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Papua New Guinea: Disaster Management Reference Handbook: February 2019

Publication date

Executive Summary

The Independent State of Papua New Guinea, conventionally known as Papua New Guinea (PNG) is located in the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ making it prone to many natural disasters including cyclones, drought, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.4 PNG ranks among the top six countries for the highest percentage of population exposed to earthquake hazards and has the highest percentage of population exposed to severe volcanic risk. Additionally, heavy rains in the country often lead to landslides and damage to road infrastructure and livelihoods.5 As a result of its geographic and economic vulnerabilities the country has implemented several longterm strategies to attain sustainable economic development and disaster risk response (DRR), disaster risk management (DRM), and climate change mitigation.

The National Disaster Centre (NDC) was established in 1984 by an Act of Parliament to provide necessary and appropriate disaster management services to the people of PNG.

The NDC operates in two divisions providing research analysis, awareness, and education and training for pro-active matters. It also provides rapid response and operations to reduce risk to communities and manage the consequences of disasters in PNG.6 Further, with over 80% of the country’s communities living in rural villages isolated by rugged mountains and dense forests, the inaccessibility of transportation networks, and poor communication infrastructure makes providing social services and disaster management key challenges.7 The country has an abundance of natural resources. As a result, almost two-thirds of PNG’s export earnings are obtained through mining.

The leading exports are commodities such as gold, copper, nickel, palm oil, cocoa, logs, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The majority of the labor force is employed by the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector.8 Subsistence farming accounts for approximately one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).9 PNG’s rapid population growth has also created challenges with providing basic health and education services to the population. The unemployment and underemployment have also exacerbated social issues such as poverty, crime and ethnic tensions.10 In 2009, PNG initiated the PNG Vision 2050 to develop a long term strategy for the advancement and prosperity of the country. This visionary document contains a strong focus on environmental sustainability and climate change. The National Climate Compatible Development Management Policy (NCCDMP) was a result of the Vision 2050 and focuses on sustainable development and key policy areas for climate change mitigation and adaptation and provides monitoring and evaluation of these activities. In 2012, the National Disaster Risk Management Plan (NDRMP) was enacted to lay out the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) architecture of the country and provide guidance for DRM interventions at all sectors and levels of government.

More recently, the Climate Change Management Act of 2015 was implemented to outline the Government’s immediate and future steps for adaptation to climate change in the country. However, the National Food Security Policy (2016-2025) is currently the only sectoral strategy to include adaptation concerns.

Additionally, the Adaptation Fund project (2012-2016) provides provincial-level adaptation strategies for five provinces with a focus on riverine and coastal populations.11 In 2016, PNG signed and became the 23rd nation member of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and has enacted the Paris Agreement (Implementation)

Act of 2016. As part of this agreement, PNG will be required to report actions it has taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change to the United Nations (UN) and chart a course for best practices with regard to national ecological and economic stability.12 Although the population’s literacy levels and educational status is fairly low, training to increase the competency, skills and knowledge of citizens has been a priority for successive governments. These priorities include using new scientific methodologies and techniques from various sectors, assessing climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options, and raising community awareness on the impacts of climate change and variability. Climate change, variability and extreme events have potential impacts on the socio-economic and environmental well-being of PNG and its people.

An integrated approach in the area of awareness, capacity building and human resources development are continued priorities for the country.