ADB Grant Helps Build PNG’s Resilience to Climate ChangeCatch of the Week
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $24.25 million grant to help Papua New Guinea (PNG) build its resilience and responsiveness to the impacts of climate change.
The project grant, administered by ADB from the Strategic Climate Fund, will help PNG’s Strategic Program for Climate Resilience integrate climate risk and resilience planning into development policies. It will also help PNG raise its development planning capacity, allowing the government to scale-up investments in climate resilience.
The program aims to mainstream climate resilience into development planning in vulnerable communities in 21 vulnerable islands and atolls in the provinces of Bougainville, East New Britain, Manus, Milne Bay, and Morobe.
“The target areas for support were identified through a participatory process considering risk factors in the most vulnerable sectors of infrastructure, natural resources, health, and agriculture,” said Marilou Drilon, Senior Natural Resources Economist in ADB’s Pacific Department.
The project activities include climate change and vulnerability assessments and preparing adaptation plans for vulnerable communities, piloting sustainable fishery ecosystems and food security investments in some target areas, and establishing a framework for climate-resistant infrastructure. An early warning system linked to PNG’s National Disaster Center will be improved and an important island wharf will be rehabilitated to become climate resilient.
The government has selected nine vulnerable islands — in Manus (Ponam, Andra and Ahus Islands), Milne Bay (Trobriand Islands: Kiriwina, Munuwata, and Kaeleuna Islands), and East New Britain (Duke of York Islands: Mioko, Utuan, and Kerawara Islands)—as suitable for demonstrating sustainable fisheries ecosystem approaches. These approaches will include (i) delineation and operation of locally managed marine areas and the development and implementation of management plans, mapping, and environmental monitoring (including fish, coral, and seaweed species) to enhance and sustain fisheries productivity; (ii) demonstrating techniques to rehabilitate protective coral reefs and degraded mangrove forests in nearby coastal areas; and (iii) demonstrating a holistic ridge-to-reef approach, which will involve stabilizing water catchment areas in island hinterlands by planting commercial tree species and carrying out other slope stabilization measures as appropriate. Pilot income-generating activities in the marine environment will also be included, such as fish farming and local processing of marine products to extend their shelf life.
PNG’s agriculture has been declining in productivity due to limited arable land, and unsustainable farming practices. Climate change-induced storm surges and coastal flooding are likely to worsen the situation, particularly in the vulnerable outer island areas where inter-island transport is a critical factor in the delivery of perishable food products to markets, and agricultural inputs for farming and fisheries. Under these conditions public health is also at risk.
The country’s ports and wharves have not previously been designed to withstand climate extremes, and upgrading such coastal infrastructure to become climate resilient is seen as necessary in view of the country’s vulnerability to climate change.
Thus, the government has identified Alotau Provincial Government Wharf for upgrading and climate proofing as a pilot activity under the project to demonstrate how engineering design of a wharf can be made more climate resilient.
Olly Norojono, Director for Transport, Energy and Natural Resources in ADB’s Pacific Department, explained that the design for the new Alotau wharf will offer replication potential in other provinces throughout PNG. “Further,” he added, “all the components of the project can provide synergies, not only within PNG but also among other countries in the Coral Triangle Initiative and the additional Pacific participating countries, Fiji and Vanuatu. All these countries share common agriculture, infrastructure, and natural resources problems that will be exacerbated by climate change.”
PNG’s economy is likely to be hardest hit by climate change among the Pacific countries. According to ADB’s Economics of Climate Change in the Pacific, report, climate change will cause severe failures in sweet potato and other agricultural crops, as well as land losses due to rising sea level, and other impacts from climate change, resulting in a loss of up to 15.2% of PNG’s GDP by 2100.
Coral reefs in PNG, as elsewhere, will be affected by climate change, with implications for recreational opportunities for tourism, coastal protection, habitat, nursery functions for commercial fisheries, and other goods and services. By 2100, some 4,500 kilometers of the PNG’s 17,000 kilometers of shoreline are expected to be inundated, affecting up to 30% of PNG’s population, particularly residents of the country’s 2,000 coastal villages that have a combined population of nearly one million. This project will help PNG minimize these impacts of climate change by showing how to improve the resilience of the country’s coastal infrastructure and natural resources.