Papua New Guinea and the Republic of France have established a landmark cooperation in Forest Management, Conservation, and Climate Change during a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. James Marape, and the President of the Republic of France, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, in Port Moresby on Friday, July 28, 2023.
Prime Minister James Marape expressed his satisfaction with the fruitful meeting, emphasising that it paves the way for elevating the long-standing good relations between the two nations to new heights.
The leaders mutually agreed to intensify their collaboration in forest management, conservation, and climate change.
“This is an issue that I have been passionate about, as many of you know from my interventions at the United Nations level,” Prime Minister Marape stated.
Among the key areas of intervention discussed, both leaders have agreed to:
1. Establish an office for expertise from France in Papua New Guinea.
2. Foster cooperation in energy transition initiatives.
3. Allocate funding for works at the Port of Rabaul to enhance its climate resilience.
4. Extend support for green finance in the Pacific region.
“The above interventions clearly demonstrate France’s commitment to sustaining its long-term partnership with PNG and the wider Pacific region. This step is highly welcome and timely,” Prime Minister Marape said.
During the meeting, President Macron assured Papua New Guinea of France’s readiness to allocate a funding of EUR$63 million (K238 million) for the period 2021-2024 under the Forests, Climate Change, and Biodiversity (FCCB) intervention programme in PNG. The Managalas Conservation area in the Northern Province will be one of the projects featured in this programme.
The FCCB will also encompass support for government, community service organisations, private sector, education, and research, complementing and enhancing existing programmes in the country.
On the topic of ongoing private sector engagement, both leaders discussed France’s continued investment in the oil and gas sector, particularly in Papua LNG through TotalEnergies EP PNG Ltd. This substantial investment is set to further transform Papua New Guinea’s economic landscape and boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the future.
Prime Minister Marape extended an invitation for French companies to participate in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to engage in downstream processing and add value to agriculture, timber, and fisheries products before exporting them to overseas markets.
“To conclude, President Macron and I will count on the support of our Ministers, Officials, and business community to take appropriate actions towards the realisation of these projects,” Prime Minister Marape stated.
Reflecting on the significance of the visit, Prime Minister Marape acknowledged the historical links between France and Papua New Guinea that date back to the 1800s when the first French Catholic Missionaries arrived on Woodlark Island in the Milne Bay Province, and later to Yule Island in the Central Province. He expressed gratitude for their contributions to the spread of the Catholic religion, education, healthcare, and other essential services that continue to support the country.
The visit by President Macron marks a historical event as the first visit by a French President-in-Office to Papua New Guinea, signifying the strengthening and reshaping of bilateral relations since the formalisation of ties in 1975.
“On behalf of the people of PNG, I extend appreciation to the government of France for their contributions to our development agenda, including our trade relations through the European Union. We are extremely grateful for the support rendered to developing countries like PNG,” Prime Minister Marape concluded.
The year 2023 has undoubtedly become a momentous year for Papua New Guinea, with a multitude of global leaders visiting its shores. Prime Minister Marape expressed that such visits are unprecedented since independence and contribute significantly to the country’s development priorities, particularly in the realm of Forest Management, Climate Change, and environmental sustainability.