Bougainville News : Carteret Islands : The world’s first relocations due to #climatechange

 ” With an indigenous population of 2700 on seven small islands with a maximum elevation of just 1.5 metres above sea level, there are few other places on Earth where the injustice of global warming is more apparent than on the Carteret Islands.

The Carterets have been on the front line of climate change for decades: one of the islands, Huene, was cut in half by shoreline erosion about 1984. While seawalls and mangroves had been holding the ocean back until this period, further seawater inundation and storm surges over the past few decades had salinated crops and water supplies, intermittently shut down the island’s five schools due to childhood malnutrition, and destroyed homes.”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 19, 2017 as “Topical islands”. Subscribe here

Last month,” Ursula Rakova says, “when I returned home just to visit family and talk to the islanders about the situation, it was really, really hard to see a lot of the land being lost to the sea.”

Rakova is from the Carteret Islands, commonly known as Tulun, the horseshoe-shaped scattering of low-lying coral atolls 86 kilometres north-east of Bougainville. “More and more, palm trees are falling, the scarcity of food is becoming a real issue, and the schools close, and close for long periods,” she says.

Part of the reason the area is so vulnerable is that, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported a global sea level rise of about three millimetres per year from 1993 to 2012, the fact that water expands exponentially as heat is applied means that bodies of water that are already hot rise more swiftly. For the western Pacific Ocean, this has meant an increase of about eight to 10 millimetres a year.

“The western Pacific is a lot hotter than the water is in the eastern Pacific – hotter by about five or six degrees – and where the islands are is amongst the hottest ocean water in the world,” says Ian Simmonds, professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne. “Hence a warming of one degree there gives you just so much more of a sea level rise.”

Simmonds notes that the same is true for the severity of storms in the region: a warmer planet means more moisture, and, therefore, stronger and more frequent storms.

In response to increasingly severe events, Carteret elders initiated a voluntary relocation program in 2006, named Tulele Peisa, or “Sailing the Waves on Our Own” – outwardly a response to failed talks with neighbouring governments dating back to 2001. The group contacted Ursula Rakova, a Huene expatriate who had gone on to direct a Bougainville-based non-government organisation, to lead the initiative. After unsuccessfully applying for land through official channels, she was given four different locations by the Catholic Church in 2007, and relocation to the first of the abandoned plantation sites started that year.

Now, after more than a decade of leading the first recorded example of forced displacement due to global warming, Rakova has almost completed housing for the first group of 10 families. She has successfully established food gardens and a mini food forest, rehabilitated plantations and begun selling crops of cocoa. New education and management facilities have been set up, and both funding and food relief arranged to be sent back to the Carterets.

But the plight of the Carterets is not unique. Three other atolls within the Bougainville area are facing similar challenges with rising sea levels, and extreme weather events have caused internal displacement everywhere from Bangladesh to Syria to Australia.

The Australian government does not, broadly speaking, have the greatest track record on the issue. Not only did then prime minister Tony Abbott refuse to meet a call from Pacific Island leaders in 2015 to reduce emissions – indirectly resulting in Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s infamous “water lapping at their doors” quip – but the current budget offers the lowest foreign aid in eight years, at $3.82 billion over 2016-17.

Yet Australia has offered a range of targeted, if less publicised, initiatives in the region, largely funnelled through the Autonomous Bougainville Government, in consultation with Papua New Guinea. These have included arranging two experts to provide advice during the resettlement process in 2009-10; funding consultations for separate, reportedly fruitless, relocation efforts between the Bougainville government and landowners on Buka Island; a mission to the atolls in April 2017 to assist communities in developing economic opportunities around marine resources; unspecified support for Tulele Peisa’s education, youth and cocoa development projects; and other aid programs to the Carterets themselves, including water and sanitation projects.

“Australia believes that the best response to the impacts of climate change is preparedness through effective adaptation and mitigation in the first instance, followed by well-supported and planned internal relocation,” a spokesperson for the department of foreign affairs tells The Saturday Paper.

“We are also assisting partners to build disaster response capacities and strengthen resilience. The Australian government will spend $300 million (between 2016 and 20), on climate change resilience activities in the Pacific, including $75 million for disaster preparedness, under the Australia–Pacific Climate Change Action initiative. We have pledged $200 million over four years to the Green Climate Fund, supporting developing countries manage climate change and its effects.”

Australia was also a member of the Nansen Initiative, a program launched in 2012 by Switzerland and Norway intended to strengthen the protection of people displaced across borders by disasters and the effects of climate change. Along with 108 other countries, Australia endorsed its Protection Agenda in 2015, leading to a range of partnerships between policymakers, practitioners and researchers as part of the follow-up Platform on Disaster Displacement.

The director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Jane McAdam, has worked with Nansen and similar initiatives for more than a decade, and advocates Nansen’s “toolbox approach”. Solutions range from better supporting disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, to developing humanitarian visas in the immediate aftermath of disasters and offering new migration opportunities such as “labour visas, educational visas, bilateral free movements agreements”.

While forced climate migrants are often incorrectly referred to as “climate refugees” – a term that would require persecution – the issues are distinct in a legal sense. The first person to seek asylum on the grounds of climate change, Ioane Teitiota, of Kiribati, lost his New Zealand application in 2015.

McAdam says there is no political appetite to change the United Nations’ refugee convention definition. While there is scope to expand the definition of refoulement, governments are better suited to developing new migration opportunities.

“It’s interesting that both the Lowy Institute and the Menzies Research Centre – two think tanks, one more conservative, the other less conservative – along with the World Bank, all in the last six months or so, have each recommended that Australia enhance migration opportunities from the Pacific,” she says.

“They say this would really make a huge difference to development and assistance generally, livelihoods generally, than would humanitarian assistance – it would cost us a lot less, and it would yield a lot more.”

While Labor offered more overt leadership on the issue while in opposition in 2006, specifically in terms of training islanders for skilled migration programs, neither Coalition nor Labor governments have since restructured our migration system to the extent McAdam recommends.

“Both Labor and the Coalition [are saying,] ‘Let’s look at this as more of a development foreign assistance issue, rather than something that’s got to do with migration per se.’

“But it’s not an either/or; it’s a whole combination of different strategies that are required, and that requires a whole of government approach.”

Despite Rakova’s work, which led to a Pride of PNG award in 2008, the Carteret group is struggling to fund homes for the final two families, who are sharing houses, let alone start resettling the remaining 1700 volunteers meant to migrate over the next five years. She says the delay, exacerbated by intercultural challenges and the emotional toll of abandoning ancestral homes, is causing anxiety.

“Basically people are beginning to really think about moving back because relocation is very slow.”

Rakova points to US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord as a frustrating example of high-polluting nations declining their responsibility.

“I would really like to urge President Trump to think twice about the destruction that climate change is causing the lives of the most vulnerable people.

“Communities who have not contributed to the impacts of climate change are being destroyed by climate change. Why should we suffer?”

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 19, 2017 as “Topical islands”. Subscribe here.

Bougainville Government News : First 100 days Achievements of Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau

 ” The challenges that we face are immense. As Chief Secretary I am honoured to be able to serve Government and commit to maintaining the full degree of energy, integrity and direction required to help the Government achieve its objectives.

Whilst much has already been done, it is incumbent on all public servants, both senior and junior, to ensure we deliver the public services that all Bougainvilleans so richly deserve.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

Joseph Nobetau Chief Secretary ABG

Download a PDF Copy of this report :

Media_Statement_-_Achievements_Joseph_Nobetau_Chief_Secretary_2017

Following my appointment to the Office of Chief Secretary on 17 October 2017, I have been engaged in a process of reform aimed at enhancing the capacity of the Department of President and the BEC and the broader public service.

As Chief Secretary I have engaged extensively with key stakeholders including Ministers, Secretaries, donors, the private sector and civil society. Through this work I have gained valuable insight into the workings of the public sector and the need for change and reform.

The purpose of this statement is to provide the general public with an update of the work that has been undertaken since my appointment, outline the challenges that I see moving forward and to canvass the priorities that are ahead.

Consultations

Ministers

Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have been able to meet with all Ministers. Through these discussions I have gained valuable insight into key ministerial priorities which has in turn informed my work with portfolio Secretaries and keystake holders. These discussions have been invaluable in informing my Department’s broader reform agenda and have assisted with some critical organisational change decisions.

Secretaries

As Chief Secretary I see it as an important part of my role to provide leadership and guidance to Secretaries. Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have convened Senior Management Committee meetings and met one on one with all Secretaries.

In my discussions I have emphasised the President’s key messages around organisational capability and the need to deliver meaningful outcomes with respect to service delivery and public service reform. These discussions have been positive, and whilst there will continue to be some challenges I will continue to ensure that all public servants remain mindful of their need to be accountable and responsive to Government and the people that we serve.

Parliamentary Services

As Chief Secretary I consider it essential that clear lines of communication be in place with the Office of Parliamentary Services. To that end, I have developed a strong working relationship with the Speaker of Parliament with a view to ensuring better links between the public service, the BEC and parliament.

This work is already showing dividends through more effective coordination of public service policy development and programme delivery and parliamentary business.

Community Government

I have been working with the Secretary for Community Government to make changes to Executive Manager arrangements to ensure more responsive community government across Districts. In that context, some immediate changes have already been made to realign resources so that we can better meet the needs of local communities. I will continue to work with the Secretary to ensure that resources at the District level are appropriate so as to enable effective community engagement and service delivery.

International Engagement

International engagement is a critical part of the Chief Secretary role. With significant donor representation in Buka I have reached out to key bilateral and multilateral partners to discuss how donor activities support the work of the ABG and to explore opportunities for more effective engagement and aid coordination. This has included my work as chair of the Australian and New Zealand funded GIF (Governance Implementation Fund) and work with the Australian Funded PNG Governance Facility.

Advisory Support and Donor Engagement

The ABG continues to receive support from a range of donors in relation to the key areas of governance, peace building, health, transport, law and justice and election support. As Chief Secretary I acknowledge the value of this support with a number of key advisers providing advice to my office and across government to progress important initiatives in areas including: recruitment, legal advice and support, draw down of powers, election preparations, media and communication, strategic and corporate planning, economic development, revenue and taxation, urban planning, monitoring and evaluation, financial management and strategic engagement. While in the longer term it is my hope that the ABG will develop the internal capacity to manage these important issues independent of donor support, the support we currently receive has been a critical part of our recent progress.

Aid Coordination

In terms of aid coordination, I continue to engage with key donors regarding how we can target support to get the best possible outcomes. I am of the view that any support must be clearly aligned with ABG priorities and be based on ensuring meaningful capacity building where ABG officers are able to learn from the support provided and manage issues independently in the future. A key future priority will be developing an effective aid coordination mechanism within my Department to ensure the most efficient use of donor support.

Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement

In February 2017 my office coordinated briefing for the visit by NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon. Murray McCully. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to talk with a key development partner and friend, with the Foreign Minister committing to ongoing support to the ABG in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.

Vice President Masono hosted a visit by a delegation from the European Union which comprised of the EU Ambassador to PNG, the French Ambassador to PNG and senior officials on 20 February 2017. The visit provided a valuable opportunity to reinforce the ABG’s development priorities and for delegation members to see firsthand some of the challenges that face our young and emerging democracy.

Feedback from the visit was positive, with the EU Ambassador indicating a very strong desire to provide support to Bougainville in key areas including infrastructure, water sanitation and vocational education (amongst others). These are consistent with priorities identified through the PNG-EU dialogue and present opportunities for the ABG to partner with the EU in a number of short to medium term high impact areas. It is hoped that in the near future a delegation led by the Vice President will travel to Port Moresby to meet with senior National Government Officials and the EU Ambassador to explore how this commitment for support can be translated into meaningful action.

Community Engagement

At the community level I have engaged widely with non-Government and volunteer organisations and the education sector. I consider these stakeholders to be essential from a social development perspective.

In December I was honoured to be asked to deliver the keynote address at the Hutjena High School graduation. This was an excellent opportunity for me to deliver a key message on leadership and the value of quality education. My message was that as emerging leaders high school graduates are well placed to make a long term contribution to our economic, social and development goals.

In February I was honoured to speak at the Public Service Dedication Service. I used this as an opportunity to reinforce the need for a responsive public service, noting that planning is the cornerstone of success.

I continue to work with local mainline churches to progress aerial surveys of available land to enhance housing and community infrastructure. This work has included undertaking aerial surveys in Buka, Arawa and Buin to aid town planning, including the potential development of a teachers college in Buin and new housing development in Arawa and Buka.

Organisational Reform

Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any well-functioning public service. As Chief Secretary my primary aim has been to enhance communication within Government and to our key stakeholders. I have achieved this by chairing Senior Management Committee meetings, engaging with Secretaries and senior leaders, connecting with Districts through radio programmes and working with our civil society partners.

This process is now starting to show results. Department Heads are becoming more engaged and my office has increased visibility of key public sector initiatives.

Despite this it is clear that much more needs to be done, particularly with respect to communicating initiatives to the broader community. In that context I am working with officials in my Department, including my Deputy Secretary, to enhance our media and communication strategy. Whilst there has been some good work in this area many of the initiatives that we need to enhance community awareness have stalled. With the referendum fast approaching this is not acceptable, and a key future priority will be to enhance mechanisms to more effectively communicate with the people.

Corporate Planning

A functional public service requires well thought out policy measures that respond to the needs of Government. This has been lacking in the past. It is clear to me that the public service must be more accountable and responsive.

To that end I have commenced a process to put in place departmental corporate plans. I see these documents as being key to addressing issues of accountability and ministerial expectations. By having in place well thought out plans that reflect Government and ministerial priorities the public service has a means by which to measure whether or not we are meeting core goals and responsibilities. It is my hope that these plans will be finalised in the coming month and that they will in turn help inform the development of a longer term strategic development plan that maps our key development priorities over the years to come.

Recruitment Processes

Open and merit based recruitment processes are an essential part of ensuring that we attract the best and brightest to our public service ranks. I have therefore taken a very close interest in recent recruitment rounds with a view to ensuring that the public service fully adheres to the principles of fair, open and transparent recruitment.

Retrenchments

In late 2016, in consultation with the Secretary for Personnel Management and Administration, arrangements were made to retire a number of officers who had reached the mandatory retirement age. This process was undertaken to ensure compliance with the Public Service Management Act and as part of a broader strategy of ensuring the appropriate resourcing of the public service in the longer term.

Senior leaders Training

As Chief Secretary I have participated in the Australian Government funded senior leaders training which is being conducted by the Queensland University of Technology. I see this training as being a valuable tool through which principles of management can be reinforced, whilst providing an ongoing opportunity for senior leaders to work closely with Ministers.

Overarching MoU on Draw Down of Powers

Work is currently underway to enable the signing of the overarching MoU on the draw-down of powers by the ABG and National Government Public Service Ministers. This will be a critical enabling step in achieving further autonomy.

Financial Management and Elimination of Corruption

Financial Management Systems

In line with the President and Government’s expectations I am heavily focused on financial management and accountability. As Chief Secretary I am conscious of my role in ensuring whole-of-Government financial accountability and working with the Secretary for Finance to enhance our financial management accountability frameworks. In particular, I am actively engaged in work to fast track implementation of the new Integrated Financial Management System within the ABG.

Revenue and Taxation Summit

For some time now it has been proposed that the ABG convene a Revenue and Taxation Summit to review existing revenue raising capacity and to explore means through which the ABG can enhance and consolidate our revenue base.

I am pleased to advise that work in the area is now progressing and that I am working with the Secretary of Finance to convene the summit in the coming months. The summit will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders and subject matter experts to convene.

Referendum Preparations

Bougainville Referendum Commission

On the 24th of January 2017 I travelled to Port Moresby to co-sign the enabling agreement with my national Government counterpart to establish the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The Commission will be an essential mechanism through which the operational management of the referendum will be conducted, and importantly, through which stakeholder and community engagement can occur. I am currently working with the Secretaries for Peace Agreement Implementation and Law and Justice to ensure that all constitutional and organic law requirements have been met prior to the final charter establishing the Commission being signed off by the Governor-General.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

 

 

 

Joseph Nobetau

Bougainville Lifestyle News : Wonders of the past. Lure into the future . A world to be shared

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“We should tell our stories in the first person because this is the best way we used to share our stories and exploits as children growing up in the village. I still see and hear kids in the village doing the same today”.

Simon Pentanu

Picture 1 Above : The faithful canoe still very much in use to take you anywhere : Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

As I remember, growing up more than three score years ago, Pokpok Island was covered with a lot of primary green forest, thick jungle, dense canopy and impassable undergrowth. Along the coastal beaches the forest laden with its vines and creepers came bearing down to meet the sea.

This was before Lucas walkabout sawmills, Stihl and Husqvarna brand chainsaws, purseiner nets, and material affluence and its effluence from mining arrived and happened on Bougainville.

Growing up on the Island what we mostly liked and enjoyed was what we did, not what we had or acquired. Our idea of abundance and being happy growing up was not toys, computer games, gifts of sorts for every occasion or a treat in shops where mum and dad could get you whatever you asked for.

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Picture 2  :Children still create their own fun climbing up or sitting on tree branches above ground

Rather, and looking back, it was more about what we did with a lot of time we had like making kids bows and arrows, going up trees and hanging from their branches, getting into canoes and paddling out, staying out in pouring rain and playing in puddles or small floods, swimming a lot, or running into the bushes looking for wild fruits and nuts and admiring the pingtu (praying mantis).

Growing up in the village you couldn’t miss noticing the Island always teemed with a lot of life and innocence that was simple. Everyone then seemed more caring. The whole Island also looked bigger and taller with taller and bigger old growth trees still standing from the beaches up to the hills and mountain.

Possums, other tree climbing marsupials, and snakes roamed the island from end to end along tree tops and along the forest canopy without touching the ground. This might sound like something like a story with drawings from a children’s story book.

No, this really is true about what was then before human habitation, starting with first initial years of settlement of the Island by Chief Sarai and his son Miramira.

In the bushes, brushes and shrubs the hissing flow of pristine creeks was unmistakable for anyone walking or doing gardens or hunting and gathering that wanted to quench their thirst.

Near the ground on the small branches and vines the pingtu always camouflaged itself well but its stationary, slow motion stick dances and sways gave them away.

I used to wonder what they ate and lived on. As for the kids we could wander and walkabout most of the day feeding off the bush on wild fruits, ground tucker and tree nuts like the galip.

Birds sang as they liked, the crickets cranked, the cockatoos blah blah’d at the slightest sight of any human movement below. Other birds shrieked and whistled their unique sounds.

You could never miss the flying hornbill couples by the continuous harmonica like noise produced by the flapping of their wings.

We came to know and realise that the deep-thong gooey sounds of some birds meant it was time to make headway home before the sun set and night fell quickly.

A lot has changed since of course. And not all of it for the better. Along with many of the old growth trees have also gone family members, relatives and friends.

But those of us that are still here still remember them by the trees that still stand, the same bush tracks that we used to walk following each other, and by the familiar sound of birds though they aren’t plentiful and boisterous anymore.

Pokpok Island still supports its inhabitants in increasing numbers. The Islanders are more conscious and have increasing awareness and respect for the environment. There is less and less food gardening in the hills.

Fishing is the mainstay of food for protein as well as being the main reliable income earner.

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Picture 3  :Modernization has brought speed and progress but will not take the fun and joy away from using canoes.

To all inhabitants this is their Paradise, a safe and peaceful haven where everyone knows and respects each other.

It is an Island of peace, of peaceful people and is quickly becoming an allure for day visitors and short stayers.

Our traditions in Bougainville are founded more in sharing than in giving and taking. This is the case with most traditional societies in most parts of this planet.

We share the lavish beauty that surrounds us, the food that we grow in family or communal plots, the sunshine we allow everyone to get by sharing open spaces with no boundaries, the beachfront where we swim and play together, and staring into each other’s eyes and faces as a gesture to acknowledge we all have similar differences.

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Picture 4  : Sharing village beach with young Australian visiting Marist students.

If you venture to Pokpok Island today you can still soak some of the past but it is a stay that is more about how much time you have to enjoy what is around today.

Accommodation is available at Uruna Bay Retreat that is already catering for the quiet, adventurer short sayer type that want to be left on their own, that prefer swimming, snorkelling, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bit of surfing and other water sports. Trekking  is included in the mix.

It’s fun. Come and rejuvenate, enjoy, and leave with a clear head, as a kinder soul, and with a mindful heart. It is in places and surroundings like this that you can find peace, stop talking and listen to and understand the language of your heart.

😇 May you enjoy the rest of the remaining days of your life with joy, peace and happiness as you desire.

For more info about or book

Bougainville’s PokPok Island and Uruna Bay Retreat

 

Bougainville’s Carteret Islands worlds first climate refugees seek home

” At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides.

The grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020.

They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea.”

A grassroots group in Bougainville is scrambling to relocate the Carteret Islanders before rising sea levels swallow their land forever.

By Lauren Beldi for Pacific Beat

Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program.

The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health.

“We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says.

“People are not able to eat what they should be eating.”

The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival.

With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves.

Ms Rakova says the relocations are also vital to give more space to those who want to stay on the islands.

“Giving justice to the elderly is the most important thing that Tulele Peisa can do. The elderly people do not want to move,” she says.

The group initially secured 25 hectares of land from the Catholic Church — enough to resettle about 100 people from 10 families.

The church has just made another 60 hectares of land available, where Ms Rakova says they’re hoping to relocate 25 more families.

But the access to safe and secure land is only half the battle.

“Building houses for the families to live in is our biggest hurdle at the moment,” she says.

“We have to keep looking for funds to build homes before we can actually move islanders to mainland Bougainville.”

Once they are resettled on Bougainville, the Carteret families are allotted one hectare each.

In addition to growing their own food, the relocated families also send food and planting materials back home to help supplement what the islanders are able to grow.

Tulele Peisa has also provided thousands of mangrove seedlings to prevent the erosion of the coastline, and helped to build raised garden beds.

But this will only stave off the inevitable for so long.

“Those are adaptation strategies, they aren’t really long-term solutions to containing the islands, because we know the islands are going, but we are looking at supporting our families,” Ms Rakova says.

She says the islanders want to maintain their independent way of living but that the international community should provide more support.

“The islanders on the Carterets are victims of what other people have caused and the international community needs to aid and support the work that we are doing,” she says.

“We have found our way forward [and] we would like to share the way forward with other people, but we need this process to be funded financially so that we can continue to sustain ourselves.”

Credits

  • Reporter: Lauren Beldi
  • Photographs: Tulele Peisa

Happy #AROB day from Bougainville News : A time for all and everything that gives meaning to life, love and existence

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“HAPPY AROB DAY – A time for all and everything that gives meaning to life, love and existence on the island and together with PNG -to celebrate together :

SG

   It is this little but grandiose star that is also among Bougainville’s live stars today. “

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House 15 June 2015- 15 June 2016

Photo Bougainville Travel

Happy Bougainville Day. Happy 11th Anniversary 2016 on this Day, in the middle of the year, the middle of the month as we find ourselves in the middle of every conceivable challenge we are faced with.

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A friend asked me the other day why my posts on FB are more so about plants, animals, creatures of the sea and land, insects, crustaceans and vertebrates, volcanoes, landforms, beaches reefs, atolls, metoras, and so and so forth.

My spur of the moment response was like: “Really!?

I didn’t realise that”.

No sooner had I said that than I realised that, it is true.

Even my timeline profile is not a photo image of me but of a paning-badora, my favourite star of the sea. But my short explanation was, and still is, and always will be, this.

We share this planet with other living things. In our busy schedule with our own kind we often forget to concede, acknowledge and realise this. Can anyone imagine Bougainville – this planet – without bird life, plant life, sea and land creatures and the heavenly bodies above?

If it were so, we’d be keeping a blank page, a planetary ledger that had zero balance in terms what else we value and care about in this world other than our own kind.

I suppose the best response is to keep doing it, keep posting and batting for others. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, as people that run charity organisations might tell you.

Some of the most grandiose creatures that co-habit, don, and decorate our seas (and on land) come in simple life forms.

At a casual glance the meaning of life, love and existence they convey to the beachcomber, a diver, snorkeler, a fisherman or a child building sand castles by the seashore can be simple but profoundly powerful.

Like this five pointed star of the sea. I see it’s used by Nusa Resort in Kavieng in its ads and pictorials, advertorials. But it is a simple, blue enamelled, innocuous creature that does its share of adding spice and colour to our world and to the business of enticing tourists to our shores.

It has no backbone but moves and crawls around as if it has five, each along its fingerlings. It’s maleable, pliable, can expand, lengthen, or shrink depending on the threat it senses.

It is this little but grandiose star that is also among Bougainville’s live Stars today.

Today is also exactly a year to the day when I assumed the Speaker’s role in the Bougainville House of Representatives.

When the House is in session, looking about and around and across the Chamber I am encouraged and enlivened by the sea of faces that I see of those that chose, for a time, the noble profession that is politics, and with it the mandate to lead Bougainville.

Outside the business of the House, there is also always time to think, even muse, about who else and what else is out there sharing this world with us.

Bougainville will be poorer if it ignores the life value to the Island of its land and sea creatures, the trees, the plants and vines that flower and animals that abound with us and as part of our make up.

This is what comprises our real capital to build and prosper on. God is Great.

And if He created us in His own image there must be a little bit of Him in all of us. Let us be godly and be responsible in caring for Bougainville and everything and everybody that makes up Bougainville. On the blue planet and the evergreen Island that defines us we must not forget what this represents:

Life other than humans that exists in all shapes, sizes, forms and representations with whom we share and co-exist on the Island.

On Bougainville Day let us celebrate at home and with PNG as we tread carefully together to deal with what lies ahead along the political path.

Bougainville News : Nisira’s Australian Lecture ” Leadership challenges for the Autonomous Bougainville Government

PN

” In summary then, the key leadership roles of the ABG include reconciliation and unification of Bougainville, using its powers and resources to make and implement policies and laws that deal with the problems and realise the aspirations of Bougainvilleans, speak for them in dealings with the PNG National Government and the international community, and act in their interests in preparing for their act of self-determination, in the form of the referendum.

While undoubtedly the ABG faces many complex and difficult leadership challenges, we are facing them honestly. We constantly explore our best options for dealing with them. Although our resources are extremely limited, we work hard to change that situation, and to face our challenges head on.”

PUBLIC LECTURE by PATRICK NISIRA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE

AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

” LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FOR THE

AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT”

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, 28th APRIL 2016

Picture above

In Canberra this week to speak at the ANU with Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Minister for International Development and the Pacific

I am pleased, and honoured, to be here in Australia, and in Canberra in particular. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to contribute to the ongoing development of positive personal relationships between the leaders and people of Bougainville and the leaders and people of Australia.

So I must express my sincere thanks to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for facilitating my visit. Thank you, too, to the SSGM Program, here at the ANU, for inviting me to make my presentation here today.

The subject that I have been asked to discuss – that is, LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FOR THE AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT – is, I think, an important one. It raises key issues about the central roles for the Autonomous Bougainville Government (or the ABG) envisaged by the Bougainville Peace Agreement (or the BPA).

Many of the ABG’s leadership challenges are inherent in the general situation of Bougainville in 2016. In a real sense it is a “post-conflict” situation – in that Bougainville’s violent, destructive, and deeply divisive nine year civil war ended almost 19 years ago now, in mid-1997. But of course, divisions, tensions and various forms of conflict (sometimes localised violence) continue. This complex ongoing and endlessly changing situation presents constant challenges for leadership at all levels, including the ABG.

There are, however, some critically important ABG leadership roles intended by the BPA. The reasons for, and the nature and significance of these roles are best understood by reference to the deeply divided conflict situation in Bougainville in the mid-1990s, in the several years before the peace process began.

CONTEXT – THE ABG & RECONCILIATION & UNIFICATION

The ‘moderate’ leadership on both sides of the main divide within Bougainville had by then become increasingly conscious of the long-term dangers for Bougainville if violent conflict between Bougainvilleans continued. Any dreams of self-determination for Bougainville would be under grave threat.

Against that background, it should be no surprise that from the very beginning of the peace process, the focus amongst the Bougainville leaders committed to the process was on unification of Bougainville. It was for that reason that the first step in the process was the extended meeting of opposing Bougainvillean leaders in the Burnham One talks in New Zealand. And of course, those talks were in fact a resumption of the previous talks between the divided Bougainville leadership held in Cairns, Australia, in September and December 1995, initiated largely by Theodore Miriung (then Premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government).

The deep drive for unification was always in large part directed to replacing the parallel and opposing Bougainville government structures generated by the conflict. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army had its associated ‘civilian’ government, the Bougainville Interim Government (or BIG), headed by Francis Ona. The BIG had its own system of local-level government – a three tier system of Councils of Chiefs. Opposing them were the Bougainville Resistance Forces (or BRF), and, from 1995, the Bougainville Transitional Government (or BTG). The BTG began establishing its own system of local-level government in 1996, the Councils of Elders. There were even separate women’s organisations associated with the BIG/BRA, and the BTG/BRF, respectively.

So it’s not surprising, perhaps, that once the Burnham One talks saw the opposing leadership agree to work together for peace, that in the January 1998 Lincoln Agreement they agreed with the Papua New Guinea Government on the need for “free and democratic elections on Bougainville to elect a Bougainville Reconciliation Government before the end of 1998”.

Through 1998 and 1999 a great deal of effort went into achieving the much sought after Bougainville Reconciliation Government. Indeed, the pursuit of that goal itself became divisive. In late 1998 efforts were being made to not only continue the operation of the PNG’s 1977 Organic Law on Provincial Government in Bougainville but also amend that Law to provide a basis for the Reconciliation Government. When those efforts unexpectedly failed, the 1995 Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-level Governments began operating in Bougainville from 1st January 1999. That should have resulted in establishing of a new Bougainville Interim Provincial Government headed by then Bougainville regional MP, John Momis, as Governor. BIG/BRA leaders, and others, saw this as contrary to the Lincoln Agreement commitment to establishing a Bougainville Reconciliation Government. As a result, the National Government was persuaded to suspend the interim Provincial Government from the instant that the 1995 Organic Law came into operation in Bougainville on 1 January 1999.

That allowed the establishing in the first half of 1999 of an elected Bougainville People’s Congress (or BPC), without a basis in legislation. The intention was that the BPC would be the Bougainville Reconciliation Government. But of course, those who’d hoped Momis would become governor were upset by the suspension action, and the establishing of the BPC, especially when former senior BIG leader, Joseph Kabui, was elected BPC President.

These problems in implementing the Lincoln Agreement provisions for a Bougainville Reconciliation Government, meant that far from unifying and reconciling, the process was itself divisive. As a result, when the negotiations for a ‘comprehensive political agreement’ (also required by the Lincoln Agreement) began on 30 June 1999, those supporting Momis and the establishing of the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government refused to participate.

It was a combination of a range of efforts from mid-1999 to achieve a reconciliation amongst the divided leadership, and a PNG Supreme Court decision late in 1999 that saw a remarkable compromise agreed. The Bougainville Interim Provincial Government would operate as the legal government for Bougainville, but would make all decisions in consultation with the ‘extra-legal’ BPC.

So from late 1999, leadership was shared, between Governor Momis and President Kabui. Though the term used in the Lincoln Agreement – the Bougainville Reconciliation Government – was never applied to this unique, ad hoc arrangement, it was truly a ‘reconciliation government’. It brought together previously opposing factions and opposing leaders in creative, flexible and highly inclusive arrangements that worked.

It was this set of arrangements for the ‘reconciliation government’ that provided leadership and government for Bougainville until the ABG was elected in June 2005. Momis and Kabui jointly led the combined Bougainville negotiating team that from December 1999 negotiated for the BPA, signed on 30 August 2001.

The successful operation of these ‘reconciliation government’ arrangements undoubtedly provided the firm foundations necessary for the ABG to become the true, long-term ‘reconciliation government’ for Bougainville.

These ad hoc arrangements were actually far more inclusive, and reconciliatory, than the single elected Bougainville Reconciliation Government envisaged by the Lincoln Agreement could ever have hoped to be. The flexible arrangements were expensive and unwieldy. They involve the elected BPC of more than 100 members, and the appointed Bougainville Interim Provincial Government of more than 30.

But the result was direct involvement of many people from multiple previously opposing groups, and a long period during which they learned to work together and to trust one another. Together they oversaw the negotiations for the BPA. They jointly took ownership of that Agreement once it was signed, and they oversaw its implementation. They worked together to establish the ABG.

THE ABG’S WIDER LEADERSHIP ROLES

Of course the BPA intends the ABG to be far more than just a symbol of reconciliation and unification. It is also intended unify Bougainvilleans and work to meet the special needs of Bougainville through the way in which it governs Bougainville, under the complex constitutional arrangements for the autonomy promised by the BPA, implemented through the changes to the PNG Constitution, and given an institutional basis in the Bougainville Constitution.

The BPA states that autonomy (amongst other things) is intended to:

“(a) facilitate the expression and development of Bougainville identity and the relationship between Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea;

(b) empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their own aspirations …

(d) provide for a democratic and accountable system of government for Bougainville that meets internationally accepted standards of good governance, including protection of human rights;”

Under the BPA, the ABG has extensive powers and resources made available to it, intended to enable it to not only develop the policies and laws needed to solve the problems and realise the aspirations of all Bougainvilleans, but also implement those policies and laws so as to make real differences in the lives of all Bougainvilleans.

In addition, under the BPA and the constitutional laws that give effect to it, it is the ABG which speaks on behalf of all Bougainvilleans in dealing with the PNG government, and also with the international community. For the ABG has a range of little known ‘international affairs related powers’ and functions. For example, it has various rights to:

  • deal direct with foreign donor governments,
  • take part in regional meetings and organisations of clear special interest to Bougainville,
  • be represented in negotiation of border agreements between PNG and Solomon Islands,
  • participate in international cultural exchanges, trade and tourism promotion, and sport.

Finally, it is the ABG that has authority, on behalf of all Bougainvilleans, to oversee the preparations for a most significant act of self-determination – the referendum on the future political status of Bougainville (which must include a choice of independence), which must be held before mid-2020.

Under the BPA and the constitutional laws giving effect to it, the ABG and the National Government must cooperate in ensuring that the referendum is conducted. Further, it is the two governments that must consult and agree on the key aspects of the referendum arrangements that the BPA leaves to be decided as the referendum date approaches. These aspects include:

  • deciding on and establishing the agency with responsibility to conduct the referendum;
  • the criteria for enrolment of non-resident Bougainvilleans as voters in the referendum;
  • the date of the referendum;
  • the question or questions to be asked in the referendum.

You may be interested to note that, in my capacity as the ABG Minister responsible for referendum preparations, in the last week I have been deeply involved in discussions with the National Government over these and related matters. Significant progress has been made.

In summary then, the key leadership roles of the ABG include reconciliation and unification of Bougainville, using its powers and resources to make and implement policies and laws that deal with the problems and realise the aspirations of Bougainvilleans, speak for them in dealings with the PNG National Government and the international community, and act in their interests in preparing for their act of self-determination, in the form of the referendum.

Finally, the Bougainville Constitution spells out these and other leadership roles of the ABG, often in detail. The draft Bougainville Constitution was developed between October 2002 and July 2004 through a highly participatory process conducted by the 24 member Bougainville Constitutional Commission. It involved several rounds of public consultation, about successive drafts of the Constitution. The final draft was then submitted – together with a more than 300 page explanatory report – to the Bougainville Constituent Assembly. It comprised the almost 150 members of the BPC and the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government, sitting as a joint body. The Constituent Assembly made very limited changes to the draft before adopting it in November 2004, and it was endorsed by the National Executive Council a few weeks later.

The Bougainville Constitution clearly reflects the views and aspirations of the Bougainville Constitution in setting significant goals for the ABG. For example, the Preamble commits the ABG to:

  • work to ‘provide for self-determination … through both autonomy arrangements and the referendum on independence;
  • ‘recognize the sovereignty of the People’;
  • ‘recognize the autonomy of family and clan lineages and other customary communities;
  • ‘govern through democracy, accountability, equality, and social justice’;
  • ‘protect the land, the sea, our environment and our cultural identity for present and future generations’;
  • ‘strive to eliminate universal problems in Bougainville of poverty, illiteracy, corruption, pollution, unemployment, overpopulation and other ills’.

A full reading of the Bougainville Constitution highlights other roles and goals for the ABG, seen especially in the detail of the Bougainville Objectives and Directive Principles (sections 11 to 39 of the Constitution). But I will not burden you with a detailed exposition of what is largely an elaboration of the main points that I have already highlighted.

I must, however, highlight one fundamentally important goal that the Constitution emphasises the ABG MUST pursue. It is the ‘aim to achieve fiscal self-reliance [for Bougainville] as soon as possible’ (section 153(1)(a)). The Constitution also directs that ‘the need to achieve fiscal-self reliance as soon as possible’ must be considered by the ABG when determining what functions and powers it seeks transferred from the National Government.

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FACING THE ABG

I turn now to the question of the leadership challenges facing the ABG in carrying out the roles given to it, and the goals it has been asked to pursue. It is to be expected that there are many challenges inherent in its remarkable range of leadership roles. I propose now to briefly survey 14 areas of particular challenge, or special importance.

  1. Factions, Divisions and Mistrust

It’s hardly surprising that, in the aftermath of such a violent, bitter and divisive conflict, that many opposing factions and divisions exist in Bougainville, and that consequentially, there is still much mistrust. Many of the issues here involve some continuity with problems that occurred during the violent conflict, 1988 to 1997. But there are also significant new development. I’ll mention just a few.

While the ‘mainstream’ former BRA and BRF elements that supported the peace process now largely work well together, at the local level there remain many unresolved divisions, where reconciliation is still required.

While the BRA and the BRF no longer exist as armed ‘militias’, since about 2010 former combatant organisations have emerged as significant political voices in Bougainville. To some extent this development reflects uncertainty for some former senior leaders about whether President Momis, elected in mid-2010, was too much a PNG nationalist, and not sufficiently committed to the holding of the referendum. While that concern has now reduced significantly, I think it contributed to a number of pressures that saw the former combatants become more politically active.

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests.

Of course, there are other sources or manifestations of significant division and tension. They include:

  • Several different Me’ekamui factions, none of which participated in the weapons disposal process under the Peace Agreement, and so remain in possession of numerous firearms. These factions include:
  • the Me’ekamui Government of Unity, based at Panguna, its leaders having links with several small, but high risk, mining investors;
  • the ‘original’ Me’ekamui, led by Chris Uma, based in Arawa, and controlling the Morgan Junction road block, still sometimes limiting access to the Panguna area;
  • Damien Koike’s Me’ekamui group based mainly at Sinimi and at Tonolei Harbour in the Konnou area of south-eastern Buin, who operates a semi-industrial ‘artisanal’ mining operation engaging about 300 young males mainly from Buin, but also from other areas;
  • Noah Musingku’s U-Vistract scheme, a fraudulent investment scheme that began in Port Moresby in 1998, but which since late 2004 has been based at Tonu in the Siwai area, and is ‘protected’ by about 100 young armed men, headed by a former Fijian soldier;
  • Former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen, Lindsay Semple, and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd (or BCL) and its 53 per cent majority shareholder, Rio Tinto.

 

  1. Weapons Disposal

The Peace Agreement contained a plan for the BRA, BRF and Me’ekamui groups to disarm, but as we’ve seen, the Me’ekmui people did not join the process and retained their weapons. The agreed plan was implemented under UN supervision, resulting in destruction of about 2,000 weapons. BRA and BRF members were give strong incentives to dispose of weapons by provisions linking UN certification of adequate completion of particular stages in the disposal process to the coming into operation of the constitutional laws giving effect to the Peace Agreement, and the holding of the first ABG elections.

But some weapons contained by BRA commanders were not destroyed, and were later put to use in localised armed conflict in Konnou, 2006 to 2011, in which scores of people were killed. In addition, some BRA and BRF members retained weapons, due to suspicion of PNG or of one another, or for the purpose of sale, or for use in criminal activities. Further, since implementation of the weapons plan ended, in 2005, additional weapons have come into possession of some Bougainvilleans. Though exact numbers are not known, they include: some weapons brought in from Solomon Islands; probably some hundreds of refurbished WWII weapons; and possibly some weapons supplied to former BRF members by contacts of theirs in the PNGDF.

Not only have such weapons been used in localised conflict, they have also been employed in several instances of violent crime. Further, a significant commercial trade in Bougainville weapons has emerged, both an especially lucrative trade into the PNG Highlands, but also a less lucrative internal Bougainville trade.

The ongoing availability of weapons undermines security, and is a constant threat to the strengthening of law and order. We also have growing fears that the presence of weapons could undermine the prospects of a free and fair self-determination process, through the Bougainville Referendum. Paradoxically, the approach of the Referendum provides us with the opportunity to encourage disposal of weapons. Many who have retained weapons claim to have done so for fear that the National Government could not be trusted to allow the referendum to be held. Now that it is becoming clearer that this fear will not be realised, we are finding that Me’ekamui faction leaders and former BRA and BRF leaders are all engaging with the ABG about agreeing a new disposal process that will make Bougainville weapons free before the Referendum is held.

  1. Law and Order, and the Infant Bougainville Police Service

We face many difficulties in improving the law and order situation. While in general it is far and away much better than it was 19, or 10, or even 5 years ago, there is still much to be done. Contributing to the difficulties is the limited understanding and acceptance of ‘outside’ law, and also ‘outside’ law and justice institutions.

Direct colonial administration in Bougainville began only in 1905, and was imposed with violence, and in a very uneven manner. Some areas had almost no administration contact until after WWII. Even then, colonial administration was limited to occasional patrols in many areas.

So even before the conflict, in the 1970s and 1980s, in much of rural Bougainville, most of what we might classify as crime was dealt with by local clan leaders, broadly under ‘kastom’. Such matters were often seen a causes for concern because they could damage relationships, rather than because of ‘criminality’.

After the initial withdrawal from Bougainville of PNG security forces in March 1990, there were extended periods for most of Bougainville when ‘outside’ law, and law and justice institutions, ceased to operate completely. While in some areas customary leadership continued to deal with many of the same things that they had previously managed, in much of Bougainville even that leadership was severely disrupted. In those areas the situation was close to anarchy. The impacts in terms of deaths, injuries, trauma and division were horrific.

Since the early 2000s there has been a significant effort, mainly funded by Australian aid, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, to re-establish law and justice institutions. But unfortunately these changes have largely ignored the 2004 recommendations of the Bougainville Constitutional Commission. It held extensive public consultations around Bougainville from late 2002 through 2003. This established that there was strong community demand for a law and justice system quite different from that operating in the rest of PNG. Our people wants a system reflecting the needs and special circumstances of Bougainville.

I remain committed to much more effort to develop appropriate policies and law and justice institutions. However, a major obstacle here is the limited capacity in the Bougainville Public Service and the still infant Bougainville Police Service to undertake policy development work.

That leads me to the next area of leadership challenge for the ABG.

  1. Capacity of Bougainville Public Service and Bougainville Police Service

In general the ABG faces grave difficulties because of the weakness in administration and policy capacity in both Bougainville’s Public Service and Police Service. It was one of the great tragedies of the Bougainville conflict that the remarkable capacity of the North Solomons Provincial Government administration, built up over the 15 years from 1974, was almost entirely destroyed. It could not simply be re-established after the conflict.

The very much weakened administration of the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government was taken over by the ABG in mid-2005. But during the conflict, management, planning and accountability mechanisms had been severely weakened.

The capacity of the PNG Police in Bougainville had been all but destroyed during the conflict, and a tiny group of officers concentrated in just 2 or 3 urban centres, and with very low morale, was all there was in 2003.

While significant efforts to rebuild the police, in particular, have been made, particularly in terms of recruiting training new officers, many problems remain. They include orientation of the police (more towards urban-based reactive policing than community based rural policing in cooperation with customary leaders), and grossly inadequate staffing for supervisory positions.

In terms of policy development, both the Public Service and the Police Service personnel are mainly trained to deliver existing PNG public service and police programs. They have no experience or training in policy development.

It is very difficult for the ABG to meet the BPA leadership challenge inherent in the goal of solving Bougainville’s problems and meeting the aspirations of Bougainvilleans when policy development capacity is all but lacking.

We are working hard to respond to the problems here. In 2014, all public service functions and powers were transferred to the ABG, with our enactment of the Bougainville Public Service Act. We have since established our own new departmentalised structure. In the process we have raised the seniority and remuneration of most positions to make them more competitive. The PNG Departments of Finance and Personnel Management have been fully supportive in terms of funding the extra costs when calculating the annual Recurrent Unconditional Grant (which I will touch on a little more shortly).

We have since advertised all departmental head and constitutional office positions, and made a number of new appointments. The rest of those new positions should be filled soon. The next stage will be the advertising of the senior management positions in all departments. That will be followed by more junior positions. All positions are open – all current employees will have to compete. By the end of 2016, the new and much leaner structure will be complete.

Will that result in major changes in capacity and performance? While that is our goal, there are still many serious obstacles, including the difficulties in attracting experienced and competent applicants willing to come to Bougainville when they know housing, education and health services are of such low standards compared to those available in major urban centres such as Moresby and Lae.

  1. Transfer of Functions & Powers from National Government to ABG

While the BPA and the constitutional laws make a remarkably extensive range of functions and powers available to the ABG, there is a transfer process involved. It involves the ABG initiating the transfer process by request to the National Government. Negotiation is then required to develop necessary transfer plans within a year. The plans are required to take account of the need to build the necessary ABG capacity and provide it with the necessary financial resources to take over the functions and powers in question.

The transfer process for many functions and powers has become bogged down in problems, misunderstandings and inertia. In general there’s been a failure to address ABG capacity and resources needs.

There have also been some significant exceptions, including public service powers and mining.

The much slower than anticipated progress in transfer of powers has resulted in frustration, and contributed to widespread criticism of the ABG for lack of performance, and failure to meet expectations.

  1. The Bougainville Economy, and That Fiscal Self-reliance Goal

The pre-conflict economy was dominated by the Panguna mine. Post-conflict, there are limited possibilities for dramatic expansion and development. The small-holder cocoa, and to a lesser extent, copra, sectors have been re-established. But most plantations are worked only by informal settlers, with little incentive to invest in improvements.

The only major new industry is small-scale gold mining, involving perhaps 10,000 miners (some full-time, many more part-time). They generate perhaps K100 million per year for miners.

There is undoubtedly scope for expansion of agriculture – particularly through more efficient management. But despite claims to the contrary by some critics, there are also significant restrictions. Arable land is limited. We also face significant land shortages in many areas. Such shortages are a major factor in localised divisions and conflict.

If the ABG is to achieve real autonomy, or to have independence available as a real option in the future, achieving fiscal self-reliance is essential. But the challenges of achieving that goal – so strongly emphasised by the Bougainville Constitution – are immense.

It is the need to explore realistic means of achieving that goal that has been a major factor leading the ABG to consider the possibility of permitting strictly limited large-scale mining. However, any such mining must be on a dramatically different basis from the grossly unfair conditions under which BCL operated the Panguna mine – matters that I will discuss in more detail a little later.

There are critics of ABG mining policy. The main ones are a few noisy outsiders. They include the NGO, Jubilee Australia, and close associates of Jubilee that post endless ‘anonymous’ postings on the ‘PNG Mine Watch’ and ‘PNG Exposed’ blogs. They refuse to in any way recognise the grave dilemmas facing the ABG. They have no understanding of the realities of Bougainville and the complex leadership challenges facing us.

  1. Revenue Raising – and Fiscal Self-reliance (Again!)

Fiscal self-reliance is at present nowhere in sight. Instead, the ABG is almost completely dependent on grants from the National Government – and donor support. The ABG annual budget of more than K300 million per year is nowhere near enough to deliver reasonable levels of even the most basic services to our more than 300,000 people. Yet more than 90 per cent of that budget comes in the form of PNG grants and donor funds.

The ABG raises less than K10 million per year through our own taxes (liquor licensing fees, sales tax on tobacco and alcohol, motor vehicle registration fees and so on).

Part of the National Government funding is also derived from Bougainville – for we are supposed to receive all personal income tax collected in Bougainville. At present the payment is only K5 million per year, and despite many requests for information on actual collections of that tax, we have no idea of actual figures. We are also entitled to just 30 per cent of the PNG’s goods and services tax collected in Bougainville.

The main-stays of the Bougainville economy are small-holder cocoa and copra production, and small-scale gold production. Their combined income from these sources in recent years averages K250 to a maximum of K350 million per year.

We often consider possible imposition of ABG taxation on this income. But we are deeply concerned about taking too much money from the limited income available to our people.

In addition, we have to consider costs of collection, and the difficulties likely to be created by emerging incentives for black markets.

Probably our best option will be some form of indirect taxation on consumption (perhaps a sales tax additional to the GST imposed by the National Government). But we know that there would be considerable resistance to imposition of such an additional tax. Further, even an additional 10 per cent tax would be likely to generate a maximum of perhaps K50 million – nowhere near enough to bring us anywhere close to fiscal self-reliance.

Does anyone really question why each ABG since 2005, with the clear support of many, many Bougainvilleans, has been open to the possibilities of limited large-scale mining for a Bougainville that is committed to self-reliance as it seeks real autonomy, and prepares for an act of self-determination? What responsible government in our circumstances would not explore that possibility?

  1. The Funding Arrangements in Support of Autonomy

The key aims of autonomy set out in the BPA extend beyond empowering Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems and work to realise their aspirations to recognise the need for the ABG to have the resources needed to achieve those lofty ideals. So it states that the autonomy arrangements are also intended to (and I quote) ‘provide sufficient personnel and financial resources for the autonomous Bougainville Government to exercise its powers and functions effectively’.

Unfortunately, the BPA never delivered fully on that aspect of its goals. That was largely because of the severe fiscal crisis that was facing PNG in the years when the BPA was negotiated. That crisis made it very difficult for the National Government to accept Bougainville demands for generous funding.

Of much greater concern is the failure of the National Government to deliver even the inadequate levels of funding promised by the BPA and the Constitutional Laws giving effect to it. I will not go into detail here. Instead I will highlight two of the most serious sets of problems involved.

First, the main annual grant payable to the ABG is the Recurrent Unconditional Grant. It funds recurrent costs (salaries and operational costs) of ABG functions – both those inherited from the previous provincial government, and new ones taken on in the process of transfer of powers.

Amongst many problems with calculation of the grant has been lack of attention to the costing of the expense to the ABG of transferred activities (a notable exception, however, being in relation to costs of the transfer of public service powers).

Another problem has been National Government failure to extend to Bougainville the significant benefits of new approaches to calculation of the similar grants payable to provincial governments elsewhere in PNG, as it is required to do by the BPA and section 48(2) of the Organic Law on Peace-building in Bougainville.

The second set of problems concerns calculation of the only other major annual grant payable to the ABG – the Restoration and Development Grant (or RDG). Because of the fiscal crisis of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the RDG base amount was not high – just slightly more than the K10 million PNG Public Investment Programme (or PIP) funds available for Bougainville in 2001. But in negotiating the annual RDG calculation arrangements, clear agreement was reached that when PNG’s then fiscal crisis was over, Bougainville would be guaranteed to share in increased tax revenue, as represented by percentage increases in the annual PNG PIP.

So provision was included that the annual RDG payable would not reduce below the 2001 base figure. It would only be adjusted upwards, by the rolling average of the change in the PNG PIP in each of the five years prior to the year of grant.

By 2005-06, as new resource projects came on stream in PNG and commodity prices rose, the annual increase in the PIP became large. Unfortunately, although the National Government did increase the RDG, to K15 million a year, it simply did not make the annual calculations required by the BPA and the Organic Law. RDG calculation became an ever more difficult source of contention between the governments.

In 2010 and 2011, the ABG began doing what it should have done from 2005 – that is, it made its own calculations of the RDG amounts that should have been paid annually. These indicated that the annual amount payable was over K60 million (over four times more than the K15 million actually paid annually). Further the unacknowledged and unpaid arrears amounted to over K200 million.

Since 2011 there have been increasingly acrimonious exchanges over the issues here. They remain unresolved. It is true that the National Government has made other funds available, notably a Special Intervention Fund of K500 million for major infrastructure to be made available at K100 million per year from 2011. So far only K300 million has been paid. It is most unlikely to be paid in 2016 due to the current fiscal crisis facing PNG. While payments received have been a welcome additional source of project funding, it is not the grant funding available to the ABG intended by the BPA.

Without the RDG paid at the constitutionally guaranteed levels, the ABG does not have available to it the necessary financial resources that the goals of the BPA indicated were necessary. In particular, because it was always understood that Recurrent Grant expenditure would be virtually tied to meeting costs of existing services, the RDG would be the main source of ABG discretionary funds.

In the absence of the correct levels of RDG, we in the ABG could be excused for feeling that our role has been reduced to little more than oversight of basic service delivery! So much for the goal of achieving self-determination through autonomy!

  1. Accountability

Another tragedy of the Bougainville conflict was the severe undermining of the high standards of financial management and accountability that the previous North Solomons Provincial Government had developed. There is no doubt that financial management and accountability standards reduced dramatically during the 1990s. Corrupt practices crept in that are now difficult to eradicate. But their eradication is a major focus of the major reforms involved in the Bougainville Public Service. Corrupt officers will be replaced. Accountability mechanisms are being strengthened. Our new internal audit office established in 2015 is already having an impact.

  1. Deciding the Future of Panguna, or Further Large-scale Mining

A major set of issues challenging all three ABG Presidents and their governments (the Kabui government elected in mid-2005, the Tanis government elected in December 2008, and the Momis governments elected in 2010 and 2015) has involved the future of large-scale mining. There are two distinct issues here. One is whether the Panguna mine should re-open. The second is whether any other large-scale mines should be permitted.

Some Bougainvilleans completely oppose either form of large-scale mining. But my strong impression from my wide travels and consultations all over Bougainville is that a solid majority is open to both possibilities. However, all insist that any new mining that occurs must be under a totally different set of conditions than those under which the colonial regime imposed the Panguna mine’s operations on Bougainville.

Further, most such Bougainvilleans are open to resumption of Panguna by BCL. That company clearly accepts responsibility for much of what went wrong in the 1980s. There is concern that a new mine operator may reject any responsibility for mine legacy issues.

The ABG has responded to demands that mining only occur under new and fair conditions accepted by landowners. Its law provides that owners of customary land also own all minerals on, in or under their land. Such rights are accompanied by landowner veto rights over either or both intensive mineral exploration on their land, and/or the grant of licences for mining development.

As a result, neither Panguna nor any other mine will open in the future without landowner agreement. That will be determined by democratic associations. In the Panguna case, since 2011, the landowner communities in the areas of the former leases associated with the mine (and some adjoining areas) have established nine associations. The executives were elected through general meetings attended by a total of about 2,500 landowners.

No decision about the future of Panguna has yet been made by those associations. Indeed, the ABG has nor requested them to make any such decision. But solely at the initiative of a broadly representative meeting of over 50 senior landowner community leaders in July 2012, the ABG has worked with the associations towards holding a preliminary reconciliation (Bel Kol) with BCL. The aim in 2012 was to enable BCL to establish a presence in Bougainville needed to prepare for possible discussions about negotiations.

But there has been an hiatus since August 2014. ABG mining law stripped BCL of most of its tenements. It was left only with an exploration licence over its former Special Mining Lease. The mining giant, Rio Tinto, 53.6 majority shareholder in BCL, then decided to review its ‘investment’ in BCL. That resulted in most of the tentative steps towards possible negotiations being put on hold. Rio Tinto recently advised the ABG that its review may not be completed till late 2016.

In the meantime, additional complexity has resulted from a series of National Government initiatives since 2014 to purchase the Rio Tinto 53.6 per cent equity in BCL. Together with its existing 19.3 per cent equity, that would make PNG 72.9 per cent majority shareholder in BCL. The ABG is unclear why the National Government has demonstrated such determination in relation to the purchase of the equity – though that has not prevented some speculation on the possible issues involved!

The President has consistently informed the Prime Minister, in the strongest terms, that these proposals are not acceptable to Bougainville. And that indeed, if implemented, the proposals would risk conflict.

He has advised both the Prime Minister and Rio Tinto that if, as seems increasingly likely, Rio decides to end its involvement in BCL, then the Rio equity should be transferred to the ABG and former Panguna leases landowners, without payment. Further, Rio Tinto must take full responsibility for an environmental clean up and mine closure program that deals properly with the major mine legacy issues.

In relation to whether other large-scale mines should be permitted in Bougainville, the Bougainville Mining Act provides several important protections. They protect not only landowners likely to be impacted by any particular project, but also the wider Bougainville community.

One protection is the adoption under the Act of the reservation of almost all of Bougainville (other than the BCL leases) from mining exploration and development, under the terms of a 1971 mining moratorium imposed by the colonial administration. That moratorium can only be lifted, wholly or in part, by the ABG Cabinet, but only after debate on the proposed decision in the ABG legislature. With the Bougainville Mining Department getting ready to manage mining tenement applications, the ABG Cabinet decided in March 2016 that in advance of even considering a decision on the future of the moratorium, there should be wide public debate on the issues involved.

But with the ABG in fiscal crisis (because of PNG’s own fiscal crisis) we do not have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation program. So as a substitute, we decided to initiate public debate through a two stage debate in the ABG legislature. The first stage was a debate in early April. When it was adjourned, all members were asked to consult their constituents on the issues involved, with a view to a debate with expanded scope at the next meeting of the House. Only after that will the Cabinet consider a possible decision on the future of the moratorium.

The President has publicly spelt out his view. He argues that the moratorium should be only partially lifted. That would provide ongoing protection to Bougainvilleans. It would also enable us to assess how well our new tenement administration system operates.

The other major protections under the Bougainville Mining Act are first, the veto powers of landowners of any exploration or mining licence application, and second the prohibition on the operation, at any time, of more than two very large mines. But a concern expressed by the President about possible full lifting of the moratorium is that there would be no limit on the number of smaller open cut or underground mines (save to the extent that landowners veto such developments).

So I’m sure you can see the extent of the leadership challenges facing the ABG in relation to decisions on the future of Panguna and other large-scale mines.

  1. Gender Equality

While most Bougainvillean language and culture groups adhere strongly to matrilineal descent principles, this does not equate to anything like matriarchy. Males in the matrilineal societies are full members of the same clan-based landowning groups that their mothers, sisters, and maternal aunts and nieces belong to. More important, it is males that generally take on public roles of speaking for their lineage in decision-making about land – and about many other important matters at the ‘village-level’. Consequently, many Bougainvilleans tend to see little basis for roles for women in public life outside the village.

The Bougainville Constitution seeks equality for all, and fair representation of women on all constitutional and other bodies. It also seeks recognition and encouragement of women’s roles in both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ Bougainville society. It specifically seeks development of those roles ‘to take account of changing circumstances’.

It is difficult, however, to achieve rapid change to deeply ingrained cultural norms. For that reason alone, progress towards our constitutional goal of much greater gender equality has so far been slow. The first step – three reserved seats for women in the ABG House of Representatives, out of a total of 40 seats – was a welcome signal of change. But it was far from a clarion call for real equality.

A strong move has recently been made, however, in that direction. This involves an ABG Cabinet decisions on developing a new draft Community Government Act. It should be ready for debate in the House in June. It involves a new local-level government system, to replace the Council of Elders (or COE) system set up under 1996 Bougainville legislation.

Instead of the COEs, which were made up mainly of unelected traditional leaders, ,– and traditional leaders will continue their roles in village-level governments.

Each community government will have a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12 wards, and each ward will elect two members – one female and one male. Each community government will have a Chair and a Deputy Chair. If the Chair is a female, the Deputy must be a male, and vice versa. Following the second Community Government general elections, the ‘gender of the member chosen as Chair … must not be the same as the gender of the person who was Chair immediately before the … election’.

In this way, the Bougainville Community Government Bill, when enacted as law, will ensure not only that there are equal numbers of men and women elected to community governments, but also that over time, women will have equal opportunity to hold the senior ‘executive’ positions in community governments.

  1. That Referendum on Bougainville’s Future Political Status

Little more needs to be said here about the referendum, other than to emphasise that the ABG has heavy constitutional and political responsibilities in relation to the referendum preparations. It is now increasingly likely to be held in 2019. Following the conduct of the referendum, the ABG will need to shoulder even more significant responsibilities, in terms of negotiating with PNG on implementation of the outcome and managing the ensuing situation.

  1. Deeply Misleading Public Commentary

An unexpected challenge for the ABG has been the sometimes amazing extent of deeply misleading public commentary on Bougainville, the ABG, its mining policy, and related matters. This commentary began mainly in 2012 as the ABG moved to develop its own mining laws.

The main attacks have come from two sources. One involves small groups in Bougainville. The other is a closely linked external network. Their main ‘message’ is that – in some way never explained, and with no credible evidence ever provided – the ABG is under the control of, or part of a conspiracy with, Rio Tinto, BCL, Australia and PNG. This conspiracy (or so they say) is intended to force the re-opening of the Panguna mine against the united opposition of the people of Bougainville.

The small group inside Bougainville involves a few foreign ‘adventurers’ seeking control of mining resources. They do so by fostering links with Bougainville factions. The ‘adventurers’ and their local supporters, fear that ABG mining policy and legislation will limit their opportunities.

The external network centres on UK-based Australian academic activist, Kristian Lasslett. His network comprises his close associates, including: the NGO, Jubilee Australia; the two blogs run by the PNG-based Bismarck Ramu Group – PNG Mine Watch and PNG Exposed; the Bougainville Freedom Movement; a group of criminologists supposedly studying ‘state crime’, calling itself the ‘State Crime Initiative’; and an Australian activist journalist, Anthony Loewenstein.

All network elements have their own ideological positions that they project onto Bougainville. They do so with virtually no understanding of, or interest in, what is really happening in Bougainville. They do not need much in the way of evidence, mainly because they have no interest in understanding our complex reality. Rather, they pick and choose a bit of information here, an opinion expressed there, and twist what little they have to fit their own pre-conceived theoretical or ideological position.

The misinformation that they put out has very little impact in Bougainville. But the internal and external contributors are mutually reinforcing. The external network undoubtedly provides encouragement to the foreign adventurers and their associates in Bougainville.

The misleading commentary does also perhaps influence perceptions of Bougainville by uninformed observers outside Bougainville. So while not a major leadership challenge, it is certainly one that we would prefer to do without.

  1. Information, Awareness and Public Consultation

The final leadership challenge I will mention involves the grave difficulties we face in providing accurate information to the people of Bougainville.

Perhaps 90 per cent of Bougainvilleans live in mainly small, scattered hamlets in rural areas. Many are in remote areas, completely inaccessible by road or air. In our post-conflict situation, as we seek to implement the complex BPA and constitutional arrangements, it is very challenging indeed to get accurate and balanced information to our people.

The misleading commentary – especially what we might call the Lasslett network – regularly attacks us for inadequate consultation on mining policy and laws. Yet we have allocated far more effort and resources to consultation on these issues than has ever been done in PNG – with the one, and truly remarkable, exception of the consultation by the pre-Independence consultation by the PNG Constitutional Planning Committee. That was under the leadership of current ABG President, John Momis, a truly committed advocate and practitioner of public consultation.

What our uninformed critics fail to acknowledge is the grave challenges involved in carrying out effective consultation in Bougainville’s situation. Radio coverage extends to about 30 per cent of Bougainville. Newspapers have limited reach. The cost of carrying out broad-based face-to-face consultation is astronomical.

We are, however, working hard to improve our capacities in this regard. We are doing that with a particular eye to what we know will be the need for extensive public consultation on many aspects of referendum preparations and post-referendum decision-making. We have commissioned research on the ‘communication landscape’ in Bougainville. It involves a Bougainville Audience Study. That has included a survey of over 800 people in all our 13 districts. It is providing data on how people gain access to information, what sources they regard as most reliable, their knowledge of key issues or concepts such as autonomy, independence, referendum. We expect the final report in May.

With the help of the information and analysis provided by the report, we will analyse the possibilities. We will seek PNG Government and donor support to assist us in improving our consultation capabilities in advance of the referendum preparations.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen:

While undoubtedly the ABG faces many complex and difficult leadership challenges, we are facing them honestly. We constantly explore our best options for dealing with them. Although our resources are extremely limited, we work hard to change that situation, and to face our challenges head on.

I can say little more than that.

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you a little of our experience so far in meeting those leadership challenges that my topic today asked me to address

Bougainville expedition seeking rare species in ‘the Galapagos’ of the Western Pacific

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Photo: Baby hornbill at the conservation site on Bougainville, PNG. (Supplied by Dr. Jeffrey Noro) Dr Jeff Noro, who will be in charge of the Bougainville leg of the expedition.

Dr Noro, a molecular scientist who did his PhD at the University of New South Wales, is director of The Kainake Project — a community cultural and conservation organisation based in his home village in prime giant rat habitat in virgin rainforest on Bougainville.

From The ABC

Contact Bougainville Experience Tours for all tour options

An expedition to find rare and new species of mammals in a region dubbed “the Galapagos” of the Western Pacific will be the first of a series of expeditions mounted by the Australian Museum in its new Trailblazer series.

Scientists are heading to Papua New Guinea’s island of Bougainville, as well as the Solomon Islands, to look for animals such as monkey-faced bats and giant rats.

Bougainvillean scientists say they are excited to have been put in charge of the expedition by Tim Flannery, in what has been seen as Professor Flannery working to build leaders in conservation.

Professor Flannery, who has just been appointed as “Trailblazer-in residence”, will work with indigenous biologists and communities.

“The flora and fauna of the Solomon Islands is very much underappreciated for its diversity and special nature,” Professor Flannery said.

“Giant rats and monkey-faced bats are the Solomons’ version of … charismatic megafauna.

“These rats are some of the most spectacular rodents on earth.

“They are incredible things … two kilograms in weight and the best part of a metre long.”

Professor Flannery said the monkey-faced bats were an ancient lineage of bats.

“They have such enormous teeth they are capable of cracking green coconuts,” he said.

“They evolved in the Solomons because there were no land mammals apart from the rats competing with them.”

The Bougainville giant rat has not been seen by scientists since 1937 and another species on the island of Malaita has never been recorded.

The expedition’s innovative partnership with indigenous biologists and communities is already paying dividends.

A skin of the Bougainville giant rat has been found by Dr Jeff Noro, who will be in charge of the Bougainville leg of the expedition.

Dr Noro, a molecular scientist who did his PhD at the University of New South Wales, is director of The Kainake Project — a community cultural and conservation organisation based in his home village in prime giant rat habitat in virgin rainforest on Bougainville.

The teams on the ground on each island will set camera traps, test mammal DNA, listen to local people’s experiences and stories of the animals, and examine their hunting trophies.

With feral cats and logging adding to the threats to the mammals, the expedition has been labelled timely.

Junior Novera, a Bougainvillean who is about to start a PhD in zoology at the University of Queensland, will be the onsite science manager on Bougainville.

After years of being part of gruelling field trips in other parts of Papua New Guinea, Mr Novera was delighted to be working at home where the civil war of the 1990s had kept loggers away and habitats relatively intact.

“It [this project] gives us this huge opportunity to go and rediscover, and hopefully discover species are still out there and unknown to science,” he said.

Australian Museum chief executive Kim McKay sees the results being produced by the PNG and Solomon Island cultural and scientific partners as vindication of the decision to put indigenous people at the heart of the project.

“We are actually learning from the local community and working with them, and that’s the point of them being here at the museum this week — to share that experience,” she said.

As one of the world’s leading experts on mammals of Melanesia, Professor Flannery’s decision to put the Bougainvillean scientists in charge is not being taken lightly.

“For him to actually trust us, to say ‘you guys go and take the lead’, I think that is huge for me,” said Dr Noro.

“I think he is really trying to build leaders in conservation.”

Bougainville’s Carteret Islanders home to the world’s first climate refugees to Benefit from US $30 Million

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Good news for the people of Carteret Islands in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The Carterets, home to the world’s first climate refugees, will benefit from US $30 million in development funding (approx. K88 million).

These funds have been made available through a partnership program between the PNG government, Asian Development Bank and Climate Investment Fund.

Carteret Islanders, as beneficiary to these funds, was made known, following series of questions from North Bougainville MP, Lauta Atoi, on the national government’s commitment to climate change affected island communities in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

While others have faced the challenges, Carteret Islanders, although being declared as first climate change refugees of the world, for far too long have silently suffered.

“Has the government got plans to address the specific needs of the Carteret Islanders and other atoll islands that are equally affected,” Atoi asked.

Minister responsible for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, John Pundari, told parliament that the national government through the Climate Change Development Authority signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank for funding support.

“I want to confirm to the member and the people of Carterets and other islands, that Bougainville has been identified as a pilot area. They will benefit from the funds,” he said.

Minister Pundari said funding has always been a challenge for the national government and thanked international partners such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for their continued support.

“IOM are already at Carterets, working there, following a Memorandum of Agreement with the Climate Change Development Authority,” Pundari said.

Bougainville Chocolate Festival- A boost for Bougainville’s Cocoa Industry

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Bougainville’s cocoa industry will be expecting a huge boost following the recent announcement by the ABG Minister for Primary Industries Honorable Nicholas Darku, on the Inaugural Bougainville Chocolate Festival.

The event which is a first of its kind in the autonomous region will be held in Buin and Arawa from the 4th to the 8th of July this year.

Minister Darku says this project aims to encourage good cocoa farming practices, while at the same time, raise awareness of the efforts put in by the ABG and its stakeholders to develop this industry. It will also give Bougainville the chance to showcase its cocoa farmers to the international chocolate community and create opportunities to build better market links.

“The cocoa industry represents the economic sector with the greatest immediate growth potential in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It can, and will into the near future, provide for sustainable rural employment, generation of government revenue and contribute to household incomes and improved livelihoods”, he said.

One of the highlights of this event will be the Chocolate Competition which involves international judges tasting and providing feedback on chocolate made from Bougainville Cocoa.

“Growers from across Bougainville- twenty from each region, North, Central and South will be invited to submit twenty kilograms of dried cocoa beans, and each sample will be made into chocolate by Paradise Foods.

Chocolate samples will then be distributed to the judges well in advance of the festival to enable a thorough appraisal and judging”, explained Minister Darku.

There will also be agricultural showcases, business stall displays and entertainment during the three day festival. The opening of the Primary Industries Field Station in Buin will also coincide with this event.

This festival is an initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, led by the Department of Primary Industries in partnership with the Australian government.

From 2014

A small New Zealand business is demonstrating how Bougainville can have a future without a return to large-scale mining and the reimposition of colonial-style dependence on foreign powers like Rio Tinto… (Mine Watch)

Source: PNG Mine Watch

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage

A voyage to make a unique artisan chocolate bar and a better tasting world. This is the new chocolate revolution.

Can you imagine the most beautiful tropical paradise on earth?

And the most mouthwatering, delicious chocolate you’ve ever tasted?

We’re going to bring them together and help make a better tasting world. 

We are Gabe Davidson & Rochelle Harrison, co-founders of New Zealand’s Wellington Chocolate Factory, and international development worker Sera Price.

We are Kiwis with mad passions and big hearts. 

We’re going to make a delectable artisan chocolate bar with rare cocoa beans from Bougainville, a South Pacific region devastated by civil war. The bar itself will be a unique taste experience of the highest quality: the voyage of making it will connect us and you with a cocoa-farming legend, a better way of doing business, and a sailboat journey across the mighty Pacific. Plus you can get chocolate!

We see this as part of a new chocolate revolution, and we want you with us on the adventure.

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage will: 

1. Upgrade a South Pacific cocoa plantation– a farming community in Bougainville, led by legendary grower James Rutana, will be able to improve their drying sheds and grow a high-quality crop of unique Criollo varietal cocoa.

2. Buy a tonne of beans– literally. The Wellington Chocolate Factory will purchase 1 tonne of the resulting bean crop at a fair, premium price.

3. Sail the sparkling seas– in the tradition of legendary ocean voyages and historical trade routes, we will transport the beans from Bougainville to Wellington harbour ourselves via sailing ship!

4. Make amazing chocolate – once the beans arrive, we will use our master chocolate-making skills to produce the ‘Bougainville Bar’, a highest quality artisan treat with a unique flavour.

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage combines everything we’re passionate about: making great food, supporting ethical development and trade, connecting with people across the globe, and going on an adventure. We see this as part of the new revolution in artisan food, where mega-industrialised production takes a back seat to skill, care, and people.

By backing us you will be part of:

Supporting Bougainville and a local legend– recovering from a 10 year civil war, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea is trying to develop its own economy and future. James Rutana helped build Bougainville’s cocoa industry only to see it get destroyed by war and neglect. He is committed to rebuilding and we want to help him.

Making truly great food– the Wellington Chocolate Factory are a values driven company who make highest quality bean-to-bar chocolate. You’ll be invited into our world and get to share the inside story of creating the Bougainville Bar. Then you’ll get your very own bar to try or share or hoard!

Nurturing unique cocoa varieties–  rare and unique cocoa varieties are being lost to the dominance of lower value industrial strains. We’re encouraging farmers to grow higher quality crops and earn a premium price for their effort.

Doing it by sailboat!– Sailboats are fun and romantic in all the right ways, and there is a proud tradition of great Pacific sea voyages throughout history. Imagine being in Wellington Harbour as the first sail-driven shipment of cocoa beans in over fifty years arrives. If you’re super-keen, imagine coming on the boat with us!

Wouldn’t it feel good to be part of a better tasting world?

 What’s the Wellington Chocolate Factory?

We’re snuggled in the heart of Wellington city in New Zealand. We have 11 staff and are open to the public. We make organic, ethically traded, bean-to-bar chocolate of the highest quality.

Why Bougainville?

Bougainville is a beautiful tropical island cluster just north of Australia, with a troubled history. Geographically part of the Solomon Islands but politically part of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is now an Autonomous Region with its own government and economy.

In 1970 Bougainville had the world’s largest open pit copper mine. The mine contributed significantly to the development of the region, but also to its collapse. A civil war followed that lasted 10 years from 1989 – 1999 and killed 20,000 people.

The Bougainville people brought about peace with assistance from the New Zealand and Australian governments, and the new Autonomous Region hasn’t looked back! There are many challenges in rebuilding the economy and raising business confidence: cocoa growing, for which Bougainville was once internationally renowned, is a way forward.

We want to help put Bougainvllle cocoa back on the map! Making the world class artisan Bougainville Bar will help shine a positive light on the region’s potential, and demonstrate that this is a great place to work and do business.

Bougainville News : A tribute to the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma MP

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“The loss of a member of a family, especially the head of a family is a painful and devastating experience for any family, in any family anywhere. 

The loss of a leader among us and in our midst when there is still so much to be done is untimely.

The loss of good, honest and committed national leaders mandated by popular choice in democratic and free elections such as we have and value in this Region and in the country, is a tragic loss.

AS we mourn the passing of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma and as the people of South Bougainville and the rest of Bougainville realise and acknowledge he will no longer be with us, it is a time too that we look back at his personal achievements and his marks and contributions in life.”

TRIBUTE BY THE SPEAKER SIMON PENTANU MHR

ON THE OCCASION OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO HONOUR AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THE LATE HON. STEVEN PIRIKA KAMMA MP

On Wednesday 03 March 2016 the casket containing the remains of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma MP was laid before the House of Representatives at Kubu, Buka, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The casket was accompanied on two flights from Port Moresby to Buka by a parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the PNG National Parliament Hon Theodore Zurecnuoc. In the delegation were also United Resources Party stalwarts led by Member for Usino Bundi (Madang) Anthony Yagama MP. Stephen Kamma was a loyal member of the Party.

At the time of his passing Steven was Minister for State assisting the Prime Minister on constitutional matters. He was first elected as member for south Bougainville in 2008 and was serving his second term, 2012-2016, in the National Parliament

The Speaker Hon Simon Pentanu MHR led the tributes for and on behalf of the House of Representatives and members of the House. The President, Hon Chief Dr John Momis MHR also paid tribute on behalf of the People of Bougainville. The casket with the remains of the late Stephen Kamma was formally handed to ABG in a short speech on the floor of Parliament by The Speaker of the PNG National Parliament.

Following is a Tribute given by Speaker Simon Pentanu MHR in the House of Representatives.

The Hon the President, and Hon Members of the House of Representatives.

The Speaker of the PNG National Parliament Hon Theodore Zurenuoc MP

Member for Usino-Bundi Mr Anthony Yagama MP

Member for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Mr Joe Lera MP

Member for North Bougainville, Mr Louta Ato MP

The family and relatives of the late Hon Steven Piriki Kamma MP

People of Bougainville.

The loss of a member of a family, especially the head of a family is a painful and devastating experience for any family, in any family anywhere.

The loss of a leader among us and in our midst when there is still so much to be done is untimely.

The loss of good, honest and committed national leaders mandated by popular choice in democratic and free elections such as we have and value in this Region and in the country, is a tragic loss.

Honourable Members,

At this juncture, when Bougainville is still faced with many challenges , quite often precarious and trying moments of maturity in its leadership, politics and direction;

At this time when unity and our unification is the clear and loud clarion call from the ABG leadership to all Members of this House, to our four Bougainville MPs in the National Parliament and to the People of Bougainville;

At a time when the people across all communities are seeking more awareness and efforts of all their  elected leaders as the clock ticks down to Referendum;

At a time like this when we lose leaders  in the prime of their political and other public life;

AT ALL THESE TIMES AND MORE, I dare say that death is a cheat on Bougainville.

Honourable Members,

Your life is a priceless gift to you. You cannot re-invent it. You cannot recreate it. You cannot copy it. You cannot clone yourself. Your Life is a gift from God. From Nature. From the Universe. From Mumira. From Tantanu. From Sunahan. Kumponing. All you have do is be mindful and look after it, take care of it. We must all spend some down time on our Health and Wellbeing. This is a message we must all store and carry in our hearts and minds as leaders all the time. It is your duty of care to do so. We owe this to the people who elected us to represent them as we go about our responsibilities to rebuild Bougainville. The state of any nation, any country is judged not only by its wealth and avarice but by the health of its citizens, especially its leaders.

AS we mourn the passing of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma and as the people of South Bougainville and the rest of Bougainville realise and acknowledge he will no longer be with us, it is a time too that we look back at his personal achievements and his marks and contributions in life.

This is also an occasion we pay tribute to the late Member’s life and recognise his successes, contributions and the legacy he leaves behind.

Stephen Pirika Kamma had a lot of heart and spent a lot of effort to go ahead in business. He had a lot of heart and worked hard to get into national politics. He did very well on both scores.

Steven also had a lot of heart and faith in himself that it was his responsibility to work hard for his family so they could get ahead in life. He also did very well on this score.

The late Stephen Kamma faced up to and moved on from the Bougainville crisis to gather himself in Rabaul, East New Britain province. A devastating natural disaster, the volcanic eruptions in Rabaul in September 1994 was another blow to his budding business. But instead of dwelling on the misfortunes,  this gave him more determination to lead his family from the front, and not complain and make excuses to fold up. Through all of this and at all times Stephen maintained his family intact.

With an eye for opportunities and contempt for failure after the hard years at home and a natural disaster in Rabaul the late Stephen Kamma headquartered his signature business in pest control in Port Moresby.

I believe from sharing times and moments together as a good friend that it was his control at the helm and determination move on and his personal trials and tribulations in the face of adverse and un-mitigating disasters that made him thinking about public life in politics.

The late Steven’s idea of politics was driven not necessarily by the notion of representation of people per se but rather by his idea that a representative is chosen, among other things,  to bring about practical, visible and tangible results competing in an arena where leaders are vying  for resources and where a leader’s worth and ability is judged often by what developmental changes and improvements he or she can effect to the lives and well-being of the people.

This country is a very rural society where the majority of our people still live in villages. The best evidence of a meaningful link by an elected leader in many ways is a residence among one’s community in the village. The late Mr Kama had a home in his village in his community where he spent considerable time, relatively speaking, with his people.

His record of contacts, links, discussions and offers of advice to the President, some Ministers and members of this House, especially from south Bougainville  is a record he can be justifiably proud of as a national MP. His presence and visits and projects is what did the talking for him.

On the ground in Bougainville as well as in Port Moresby from to time his direct approach to our President on many occasions when matters of interest to Bougainville needed to be explained or when differences and confusion between Kubu and Waigani needed moderating the Hon Member often appeared when he would make  the judgment that his help and arbitration was called for to maintain dialogue between the National Government that he was an integral part of and ABG leadership. His quiet interventions did not always become news stories.

The late Hon Member always keenly followed the ABG elections and the formation of Governments after elections on the ground in the Region. To this end he maintained contact with members from his region and electorate in the south.

Hon Members,

This House recognises and places on record its grateful appreciation of the service and duty of the late Honourable Member as one of the 4 elected Members in the National Parliament. Under the provisions of the Bougainville Constitution our 4 Bougainville MPs in the National Parliament are also Members of this House.

Stephen Kamma, you are laid on the floor of this House as a member of the House. It is not only right but also fitting that this is the case because while our three national MPs each represent the three regions and the regional members represents the whole island, collectively you all represent the People of Bougainville.

The honourable member passed away in office as a Minister of State. Despite issues with his Health the Steven Kamma never winced or blinked his eyes about the duties and responsibilities of a Minister. He stayed on the crease batting to the last innings without getting out. There is no doubt he wanted to see his second term in Parliament right through to the end. Unfortunately this was not to be. While some people may criticise this, the late Minister always kept in touch and abreast and still took decisions right to the end. He valued and knew that two voices for Bougainville in Cabinet was better than one.  He was  loyal to the Government he was a part of. He was a loyal member of his Party.

The Hon late Stephen Kamma is the first Bougainvillean since elections started in PNG in 1964 and since Independence in 1975 to die in office as a serving member and Minister of State.

We have lost a self-made businessman, a proud Siwai entrepreneur  like many other Siwais that are the heart-throb of business and commerce in many areas in Bougainville. He was a kind hearted philanthropist to those that he helped and that knew him well personally.

He found assurance and confidence with his peers in Parliament regardless of the changing and tumultuous times PNG is going through . Bougainville has lost a leader, a proud carrier of our mantle at the national political level. Hon Stephen Kama is a big loss to Bougainville at a time we can least afford to lose our elected leaders.

This House extends its deepest sympathy and condolence to the family of the late Steven Kama, Anna and her children Michael and Pamela and their adopted children at this difficult time in their bereavement. You have a lost a loving husband and father.

May God bless his soul as he rests in His Kingdom. May he rest in Eternal Peace

To conclude, may I on behalf Members assembled here this morning and the People of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to you, the Hon Speaker of the PNG National Parliament and your delegation for accompanying the remains of the late Honourable Stephen Kamma and gracing us with your presence on this occasion. Thank you for handing him back to Bougainville, especially to his people in south Bougainville through  this House.