Resource development and human well-being in Papua New Guinea

Industry, academic, civil society and government stakeholders discussed the future of resource development and human wellbeing in Papua New Guinea at a conference at the Gateway Hotel between 17 and 19 March 2015.

The keynote speech was delivered by Hon. Charles Abel, the Minister for National Planning who provided participants with an insight into the government’s plans for the next five years, and the goals for PNG as part of the 2050 vision.

The event was opened by H.E. Deborah Stokes, the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, and Roy Trivedi, UN Resident Representative to PNG. Various experts presented on a range of topics including the millennium development goals, health outcomes, measuring development goals in resource project impact areas and the collection of statistics in Papua New Guinea.

The conference was organised by the PNG Institute for National Affairs (INA), the Australian National University (ANU) and IM4DC to share knowledge on connecting natural resource wealth to broad based and sustainable human development.

The event discussed some of the issues published in Papua New Guinea’s second National Human Development Report From Wealth to Wellbeing: Translating Resource Revenue into Sustainable Human Development, which posed two problems of measurement. The first problem has to do with the national government’s measurement of progress made in the achievement of ‘sustainable human development’, especially the collection and interpretation of national data for the numerous indicators currently associated with the Millennium Development Goals. The second problem has to do with the way that companies responsible for the operation of major resource projects measure their own contribution to ‘sustainable human development’ in the areas directly affected by their operations. These two problems have often been considered in isolation from each other.

Participants in the event discussed the relationship between these two problems, considered as practical problems of data collection and interpretation, in order to inform of the development of better policies and guidelines for the measurement of human well‐being or sustainable human development, at different geographical scales or different levels of political organisation.

Participants enjoyed the event and were unanimous in their view that only the surface was scratched on many of the issues affecting resource development and human wellbeing in Papua New Guinea, and that the work must continue.

This conference was supported by the United Nations Development Programme, the Australian High Commission in PNG, the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, the University of PNG and the PNG University of Technology.