A month ago, I wrote to the UN-REDD team in Papua New Guinea to ask, among other things, what has happened to the programme’s budget of US$2,596 million. I am still waiting for a reply. Last week, I sent a reminder, along with a new question about the PNG government’s investigation into the Office of Climate Change, the key documents of which, it seems, have disappeared.
[UPDATE: UNDP replied on 7 March 2010.]
REDD-Monitor’s email is below.
Meanwhile there have been several other recent developments in PNG. According to the website CarbonoWontok, Nupan has “severed all relationships with Carbon Planet Limited”. (CarbonoWontok® is the registered Trademark of NuPan (PNG and HK) Trading Corporation Limited.) There is no mention of this on Carbon Planet’s website. In fact, Carbon Planet appears to have removed all mention of Nupan from its website. Previously, Carbon Planet’s website stated that “Carbon Planet paid AU$1.2m in project finance to project developer Nupan Trading Corporation (PNG) Limited.” This reference to Nupan has now been replaced by the words “a project developer.” There’s a discussion about Nupan’s activities in PNG in a previous REDD-Monitor post.
The Post Courier reported on 15 February 2010 that, “A full scientific team from Australia, supported by hundreds of locals, will travel to the heart of the Kamula Doso forest in the Gulf Province this week.” The article is based on a post on the CarbonoWontok website dated 4 February 2010. Yet there is no acknowledgement in the Post Courier article that all of the information in the article comes from the project developer. The two articles are compared here (pdf file 70 KB).
Two days after running this article, the Post Courier published an article titled “Carbon trade hijacked“, which included the following statement from Jim Tame, a spokesperson of a group of local leaders:
“We the genuine landowners and leaders of East-Pangia local level government are seeking interpretation on the recent media propaganda on carbon trade in the area. We as landowners question that there has been some suspicious and fishy deals in the carbon trade.”
Yesterday, the Post Courier ran the photograph above on its front page, with the comment:
“WHO says no to carbon trading, certainly not this group of young men from the East Pangia area in Southern Highlands Province. Last week, these young men, armed with their axes and knives were out in their forest, helping a team of scientists from Nupan (PNG) Trading Corporation collect data to create a carbon trading project in Papua New Guinea.”
The Post Courier, it appears, is only capable of printing one side of a story at a time.
Australian Associated Press reports on the latest controversy generated by Kirk Roberts, the head of Nupan Trading:
“East Pangia, in PNG’s rugged Southern Highlands region, is the latest focus of various conflicting opinions that have flared as Mr Roberts promises what many villagers call ‘sky money’ – because he appears to be selling air.
PNG’s Forest Authority (FA) managing director Kanawi Pouru has taken out a newspaper advertisement reminding Mr Roberts and landowners that East Pangia has already been allocated for logging.”
This highlights a serious problem: Nupan appears to be promising income for local landowners through carbon trading, without addressing the fact that the forest is already allocated as a logging concession. In fact, vast areas of PNG have been allocated as logging concessions, as this map from the World Bank illustrates (click on the image for a larger version – pdf file 604 KB):
This highlights the real problem in PNG. While the government talks about REDD and reducing deforestation, it is doing little or nothing to actually reduce deforestation, thus creating the perfect environment for carbon cowboys. As long as UN-REDD and the other aid agencies operating in PNG fail to address this problem, they are complicit in creating Papua New Guinea’s REDD shambles. At the very least, the aid agencies need to be transparent about what they are doing to address the situation. UN-REDD could start by answering REDD-Monitor’s emails:
Dear Freddy, David and Jan,
On 21 January 2010, as I’m sure you are aware, I posted our (somewhat one-sided) correspondence on REDD-Monitor. As I have still not heard from you in response to my questions (which I first sent more than one month ago), I am resending the previous correspondence about UN-REDD in Papua New Guinea. This lack of transparency is troubling, to say the least, and I would be grateful for a response to these questions.
In the meantime, I have one more question:
6. On her blog, Natasha Loder, a journalist with the Economist magazine, raises questions about the PNG government’s investigation into the Office of Climate Change. “Everyone has been waiting for the report from this committee,” she writes, “but it looks like it may never come. I understand that all the key documents have vanished.”
Could you please let me know what exactly has happened to the government’s investigation and when the committee will release its report. Is it true that “all the key documents have vanished”?
Loder suggests that the time has come for the aid agencies (for some reason, she doesn’t mention the UN-REDD programme) involved in REDD in PNG to “read PNG the riot act”:
“It is time that the international donors, the Australians, the Norwegians, the British and the World Bank, read PNG the riot act: clean up, or we will move out. If the report never appears, and the previous head of the office of climate change is merely bumped on to a cosy job in some quiet corner somewhere, perhaps in the diplomatic service, then the donors need to be ready to walk away. The point about getting a good deal is that you have to be prepared to walk away if the other side isn’t playing by the rules. If there is no credible threat of a deal failing, then there is no chance of a credible deal.”
What action have UN-REDD and the other aid-agencies involved in REDD in PNG taken so far to ensure that a credible investigation of the Office of Climate Change is carried out? At what point will UN-REDD tell the PNG government to “clean up, or we will move out”?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.
Regards, Chris Lang
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