Papua New Guinea - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific
At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate change and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.
Climate change and disaster impacts in PNG
PNG is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. With 80 per cent of PNG’s population living in rural and remote communities that rely on subsistence and small-scale commercial agriculture systems and fishing, the country is highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and natural hazards.
- The 2017 World Risk Index ranked PNG as the world’s 11th most at-risk country to natural hazards, which will continue to worsen as climate change intensifies. Already high daily temperatures are projected to rise, average rainfall will increase in most areas and there will be more extreme rain events, these in combination with sea level rise, will exacerbate flooding. These events will continue to cause loss of life and significant damage to infrastructure. Australia is working with the Government of PNG to improve the resilience of its critical infrastructure to these events.
- The 2018 earthquake in Hela Province caused 160 deaths and USD140 million worth of damage to roads, buildings and electricity lines. Australia helped affected communities to repair and rebuild infrastructure and restore water and sanitation services to enable local people to re-establish their livelihoods. Australia is helping to make PNG's priority roads disaster resilient and ensure continued connectivity when extreme events occur.
- Rising temperatures and increasing humidity have led to the spread of malaria to formerly malaria-free areas of PNG. Australia is helping strengthen health systems and improve early warnings of disease outbreaks affected by climate change.
Australia has provided approximately $149.4 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to PNG since 2016. This support is delivered through many sector programs, including in infrastructure, education, private sector development, food security, energy, governance, and health and community sectors, in addition to direct investments under the PNG Climate Change Portfolio ($10-million, 2018-2022). For example:
- The Transport Sector Support Program ($85.1 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $520 million 2013-2022 project total) is working with government to ensure that roads and bridges built in PNG are more resilient to extreme weather.
- Through the Economic and Social Infrastructure Program ($5.2 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $170m 2015-22 project total), the use of renewables is being incorporated into energy sector projects, including Pawarim Komuniti – a competitive grants program for off-grid clean energy projects.
- The Health Service Sector Development Program ($9.1 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $50.4 million 2018-2025 project total) is including climate change and disaster resilience into best practice health interventions. This includes research tracking the increasing reach of malaria across PNG's highland provinces and improving the response of health services to disasters.
- The Climate Resilient Green Growth Project ($6 million, 2018-2022) is helping the Government of PNG, businesses and communities to pursue climate change resilient and low-carbon development pathways.
- The NGO Climate Change Grants Program ($5 million, 2018-2020) is supporting civil society organisations to increase community resilience to climate change and disasters.
- Australia is supporting the PNG public sector to strengthen institutions and build skills related to climate change policy management by placing an Australian climate change advisor in the PNG Climate Change and Development Authority. In 2019 Australia supported 26 Papua New Guineans to attain a Graduate Certificate in Environment /Climate Change Policy and Action from the University of Queensland.
- Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific’s (AIFFP) is financing PNG’s first utility scale solar farm, which is one of the biggest solar farms in the Pacific. Valued at $250 million, the AIFFP financing for the Markham Valley Solar Farm will support reduced costs and increased access to energy for the people of PNG.
Regional and global programs
PNG also benefits from a range of Australia’s regional and global climate change investments, both through climate change and disaster risk specific programs and mainstreaming across other sectors.
- The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the PNG Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countries to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
- The Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific Program (Gov4Res) (Australian contribution $10.4 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to incorporate climate change and disaster risk assessments in their development planning, budgeting and implementation.
- The Australia Humanitarian Partnership Disaster READY program ($50 million, 2019-2022, focus on the Pacific and Timor-Leste) supports international NGOs and their local partners to increase preparedness for disasters exacerbated by climate change. In PNG, projects focus on ensuring that women, people with disabilities and children are involved in all levels of community-based disaster risk management.