Papua New Guinea

International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Papua New Guinea

Section 4 of Papua New Guinea’s constitution outlines protective measures for the nation’s natural resources and environment. It reads:

We declare our fourth goal to be for Papua New Guinea's natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of us all and be replenished for the benefit of future generations.

We accordingly call for:
Wise use to be made of our natural resources and the environment in and on the land or seabed, in the sea, under the land, and in the air, in the interests of our development and in trust for future generations; and
The conservation and replenishment, for the benefit of ourselves and posterity, of the environment and its sacred, scenic, and historical qualities; and all necessary steps to be taken to give adequate protection to our valued birds, animals, fish, insects, plants and trees.

Featured Legislation

1973: The Forest Industries Council Ordinance 1973 (No. 68 of 1973) was passed. This Ordinance makes provision for the establishment of the Forest Industries Council, with a view to promote the interests of forest industries in Papua New Guinea. Among other matters, the provisions of this Ordinance concern the following: (a) constitution of the Council; (b) nomination of members; (c) meetings of the Council; constitution, powers, duties, etc. of the Executive Committee; (d) appointment of officers.

1974: The Fauna (Protection and Control) Act was signed, making provisions for the protection, control, harvesting and destruction of fauna, and for other purposes. The definition of “fauna” was modified, making provision for the declaration of Wildlife Management Areas by the Minister and the establishment of Wildlife Management Committees by the Minister in Wildlife Management Areas.

1991:The Forestry Act was adopted, giving effect to the National Goals and the Directive Principles and in particular to: (a) manage, develop and protect the Nation’s forest resources and environment in such a way as to conserve and renew them as an asset for the succeeding generations; and (b) maximize Papua New Guinean participation in the wise use and development of the forest resources as a renewable asset; and (c) utilize the Nation’s forest resources to achieve economic growth, employment creation and industrial and increased “downstream” processing of the forest resources; and (d) encourage scientific study and research into forest resources so as to contribute towards a sound ecological balance, consistent with the National developmental objectives.

2000: The Environment Act was created. giving effect to the National Goals and Directive Principles and in particular: (a) to provide for protection of the environment in accordance with the Fourth National Goal and Directive Principle (National Resources and Environment) of the Constitution; and (b) to regulate the environment impacts of development activities in order to promote sustainable development of the environment and the economic, social and physical well-being of people by safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil and ecosystems for present and future generations and avoiding, remedying and mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment; and (c) to provide for the protection of the environment from environmental harm; (d) to provide for the management of national water resources and the responsibility for their management; and (e) to repeal various Acts, and for other related purposes.

2002: The Environment (Council’s Procedure) Regulation was introduced, making provisions for meetings and decision-making of the Environment Council established under section 17 of the Environment Act of 2000. The Regulation further provides for disclosure of interests of members of the Council, and yearly reports by the Council to the Minister.

2005: The Mineral Resources Authority Act was brought into force, providing for the establishment of the Mineral Resources Authority, which oversees the extraction of minerals on Papua New Guinea soil.

2003: The Protection of the Sea (Shipping Levy) Act was promulgated, imposing an annual levy on ships to which this Act applies, i.e. ships of a specified length that carry fuel for consumption or as cargo. The Minister may by Notice in the National Gazette appoint a person to be a Collector for the purposes of this Act. The owner and master of a ship are liable to pay a levy that is payable in respect of the ship. Ships that did not visit a port of Papua New Guinea during a given year shall not be levied.

2014: The Marine Pollution (Ships and Installations) Act was signed. This Act provides with respect to prevention of and response to pollution by ships and declares the MARPOL Convention and the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships 2001 to have the force of law in Papua New Guinea. The Act provides with respect to, among other things: prevention of ship-based pollution by oil, noxious liquid substances, harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, and anti-fouling systems.

2015: The Climate Change (Management) Act was approved. This Act provides a framework for the development and implementation of measures in Papua New Guinea to combat climate change in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol and other international agreements and programmes. The Act establishes the Climate Change and Development Authority, the National Climate Change Board, a Screening Committee and the Climate Change and Green Growth Trust Fund.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Papua New Guinea (PNG) features the world’s third-largest rainforest and approximately 7 percent of global biodiversity. While the Environment Act (2000) regulates everything from  marine pollution to  timber exports, the PNG’s Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) suggests that legislation lacks teeth as a result of weakened enforcement efforts and accountability measures. For example, the government is responsible for maintaining an accurate, up-to-date database of tenure for all land under state leases. Local citizens have asked that laws cover all communal land, drawing upon local information gathering instead of requests from developers. CELCOR has documented many cases of mining projects being approved without Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and CELCOR has alluded to the blight of corruption which advances wealthy developers’ interests: Quite recently, PNG ranked 135th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s latest  Corruption Perceptions Index and corporate exploitation (aided by corruption) has led to the notorious special agricultural and business lease (SABL) program. This program allows the state to grant sub-leases for cash-crop projects, the majority of which should be sustainable agriculture projects. However, reports reveal that SABLs have been a driver of illegal logging in PNG; for instance, in 2014: Illegal logging accounted for as much as 70 percent of PNG’s timber industry. Global Witness, an NGO, concluded that PNG’s SABL program is rife with illegalities, resulting in the issuance of fraudulent SABLs.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Department of Environment and Conservation: odir@daltron.com.pg