COVID-19 may have impacted the progress of Papua New Guinea’s rollout of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but Prime Minister James Marape has made it clear that sustainability and progress go hand in hand, and business must play a role.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to help developing nations grow in a safe and sustainable fashion. The 17 goals are linked and include: vaccination, education and empowering women.
With the release last week of PNG’s Voluntary National Review (VNR), Prime Minister James Marape has made sustainability part of his national agenda and outlined the first sectors he plans to focus on.
‘The Business Council of Papua New Guinea (BCPNG) is leading and championing the private sector’s engagement on SDGs.’
‘Our immediate concern is driving sustainable economic progress through the targeted sectors of agriculture and livestock, forestry, fisheries, tourism, the extractive industry and by supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises,’ Marape announces in the VNR document.
‘This is the priority of my Government to create wealth for PNG, ensuring greater benefits to our people from mining and petroleum resources, and generating revenue to fund development programs.’
So what does the VNR and the UN’s sustainable goals mean for business?
Getting the word out
One of the biggest challenges is for business to understand what is expected of them. The review was set to follow four phases this year, the second being a series of stakeholder engagements. But the State of Emergency meant many of these talks were cancelled, setting the project back.
But with the release of the VNR, the Government is nevertheless keen to get private sector engagement to help drive some of the reforms, which provide opportunities for businesses that can assist in the key areas.
‘The Business Council of Papua New Guinea (BCPNG) is leading and championing the private sector’s engagement on SDGs,’ the report notes. ‘BCPNG has provided a strategic SDG Advisory Group and implements strategic SDG projects as part of its corporate social responsibility activities. The Government will work closely with BCPNG to support the scaling up of interventions in the renewable energy sector, particularly the widespread use of solar power and other renewable energy technologies.’
The council will also help with the set up of an SDG Delivery Fund that will collect together social responsibility donations from the corporate sector to help fund priority SDG targets.
Opportunity for SMEs
Small businesses are encouraged to keep the SDGs in mind when looking for assistance and funding. One such project was the Sago Project, which was produced in line with the UN’s SDGs and helped local women in particular by making them a key part of the project.
As reported by Business Advantage PNG, the project had women front and centre. It also considered the renewable nature of sago, a product that is under-utilised in PNG but has the potential to provide a strong new revenue stream.
Marape makes clear that this sort of small-scale, sustainable model is one of the key tenets of his road to independence.
‘These elements form an integral part of the flagship agenda of the Marape-Steven Government: to make PNG “the richest Black Christian country”, that will become economically independent by 2030, he says. ‘Thus, the SDGs are incorporated into PNG’s Medium Term Development Plan III 2018-2022, and the succeeding Plans in the coming decades. ‘
To understand more about what the UN’s SDG’s might mean for your business you can view the whole document here.
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