In 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.