in Papua New Guinea

Some answers from UN-REDD in Papua New Guinea

Some answers from UN-REDD in Papua New GuineaIn Papua New Guinea, the forest carbon trading fiasco continues, as does the logging. But you wouldn’t notice anything was amiss from the UN-REDD website. On 5 January 2010, 13 January 2010 and again on 15 February 2010, REDD-Monitor wrote to the UN-REDD programme to find out what UN-REDD has been doing to address the problems.

On 7 March 2010, I received the following email from Freddy Austli of the UNDP in PNG. “UNREDD is not yet operational in PNG,” Austli writes. Why did it take UNDP two months to provide this simple piece of information?

Another question: Why is there such a long delay in starting the UN-REDD programme in PNG? When the UN-REDD programme was launched back in September 2008, PNG was one of the nine countries that would be supported by UN-REDD. “Support will range from capacity building, to designing national strategies and to testing financing approaches and institutional arrangements needed to monitor and verify reductions in deforestation and degradation more effectively,” according to a statement announcing the launch by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Almost one-and-a-half years later, it seems that UN-REDD has carried out none of these activities in PNG.

Instead of explaining that the UN-REDD programme has not yet started in PNG, UN-REDD’s website about its programme in PNG includes misleading statements such as this:

“An early leader on the topic of REDD, Papua New Guinea is advancing towards readiness. The Office of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability, under the Prime Minister’s office, leads on the issues.”

Isn’t it about time that UN-REDD explained on its website what is actually happening in PNG? Here are three questions that remain unanswered:

  • Why has the UN-REDD programme not yet started in Papua New Guinea?
  • Which institution has caused the delay, and why?
  • When does UN-REDD anticipate that the programme might actually start?

And there are two more questions that REDD-Monitor asked, but that Austli failed to answer:

  • 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”?

From: Freddy Austli
To: Chris Lang
Date: 7 March 2010 13:57
Subject: RE: UN-REDD in PNG

Dear Mr. Lang,

Thank you very much for the questions you have raised to our office. Please find our responses below. Our answers are provided in red font under your questions:

1. As you are aware, there have been several media reports about the problems with REDD in PNG, with carbon certificates being issued and so called “carbon cowboys” have been signing up carbon trading deals with villagers, both despite the absence of legislation on carbon trading in the country. Meanwhile the government and the Office of Climate Change have issued seemingly contradictory messages about voluntary carbon trading in PNG. Could you please describe what UN-REDD has done to attempt to address these problems.

UNREDD is not yet operational in PNG. As you note, the media reports relate to voluntary market carbon certificates. The UN-REDD programme will assist in preparing PNG for implementing REDD under the jurisdiction of the UNFCCC, and thus will not directly engage with issues related to voluntary market projects.

2. According to the UN-REDD website, the UN-REDD programme in PNG has a budget of US $ 2,596 million. Could you please explain how much of this money has been disbursed and what it is has been spent on.

As UNREDD is not operational, none of this money has yet been disbursed.

3. UN-REDD’s partner organisation in PNG is the Office of Climate Change. According to a recent report by Australian Channel SBS, the Office of Climate Change has now been closed down (The Post Courier also reported this news). What does this mean for the UN-REDD programme in PNG? What happened to the money that UN-REDD paid to the Office of Climate Change?

UNDP does not have any comments on the stories in the media concerning alleged institutional changes on the side of Government of PNG. On payments to the Office of Climate Change, no such payments have yet been made by UN-REDD or UNDP. As the UN-REDD programme is designed to assist PNG in becoming “REDD-Ready”, the programme will work with whichever institutional partners (governmental and non-governmental) that the Government of PNG assesses to be best placed to achieve this result.

4. The UN-REDD programme in PNG aimed to “assist Papua New Guinea to prepare a draft National REDD Plan for consideration of the Cabinet by 31 October 2009”. Was this draft National REDD Plan produced? If so, could you please send me a copy.

Due to delays in programme commencement, the plan has not yet been produced or submitted to cabinet.

5. The PNG Signed Submission Form states “Lack of clarity concerning the OCCES process for carbon trading has been raised.” Apart from this (under)statement, has the UN-REDD made any public statements about the carbon trading scandals in PNG? If so, could you please send me a copy.

The UN-REDD Programme has not made any statements of this nature.

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”?

This is a question concerning a PNG Government investigation. The UN does not have any comments concerning the investigation.

Warm regards,


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  1. I have a vision of three wise monkeys sitting on the 14th floor of Deloitte Tower, enjoying the view over Port Moreseby for the last year, but seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and speaking nothing at all.

    Nevermind, the good tax-payers of Norway will pick up the tab…

  2. Chris,
    Great investigation. I think environmental media is catching up with the increasing number of problems REDD is facing in developing country. UN-REDD could not have chosen more complex countries to implement REDD: Bolivia, Congo, Indonesia, Panama, PNG, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam, and Zambia. If you review carefully in each pilot country there’s no an effective climate change mitigation program or a forest governance system well established ad operational. Additionally, UN-REDD in each country mainly have a “focal” point who is fundamentally, a young fellow from UNEP or UNDP who has taken responsibility of a huge REDD program. Enthusiasm will not be enough. You will see very soon young Freddy Austli-type completely drained after battling with several tentaculus and a program out of control and management.
    If I gather more info I will let you know.
    Keep the good work.

  3. B Witness.
    Very sophisticated allegory (your last comment). But you need to allow big part of readers to know your are referring to the office of UN-REDD in PNG.
    Indeed nice view they have from 14th floor…

  4. Indonesia, has been made a law related forest area alteration. The law is Peraturan Pemerintah Nomor 10 Tahun 2010 tentang tata cara perubahan peruntukan dan fungsi kawasan hutan (see:

    This regulation could change forest area to non forest area. Impact of the regulation is as basic decision making for the government change the forest area to no forest area. Furthermore, deforestion and degration will improve as an impact from the regulation.

  5. Ilya and Natasha have made the description “scandal” up to create sensations for media sales and to promote themselves.
    The UN is in opposition to Voluntary Carbon Trading.
    The people of PNG have land ownership under the Incorporated act of PNG.
    The forest Incorporations have decided that the UN is not reliable , trustworthy or experienced to relie on the management of their forests or return the best possible price of PNG carbon credits.
    The PNG Government does not make decissions for the forest owners.
    Norway pays nothing unless it can at least trble its return.
    PNG forests are being protected from Asian and other coutries from devastating logging and Induviduals and friends of the PNG Government by the forest owners themselves.
    Wake up and try and understand PNG culture and at least study the real issues in PNG.

  6. @Greenie Cap and trade: Can you give us a further explanation why UN-REDD PNG close its office?
    Where are the results of consultations?