Home to the world’s third largest rainforest, Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a biodiversity as well as a cultural and linguistic diversity that is as great as any region on Earth.
PNG’s biological and cultural diversity is under assault by the global economy. PNG’s economy is dominated by foreign corporations engaged in resource extraction that plunders PNG’s wealth while leaving little for PNG’s ordinary people. This resource colonialism destroys habitat and quickens global warming. It is accelerating the sixth mass extinction of species in Earth’s history.
Global logging companies have deforested over a third of PNG, often replacing rainforest with palm oil plantations. Corrupt logging deals between the PNG government and foreign corporations have left indigenous landowners economically and culturally impoverished by the destruction of their traditional means to life in the rainforest.
Ecological Debt to PNG
We in the U.S. are linked to and ultimately harmed by this destruction of biodiversity in PNG. Rainforest destruction increases atmospheric carbon and global warming. Biodiversity maintains the stability and productivity of ecosystems upon which we all depend for food. Biodiversity provides the raw materials for new medicines. As habitat and biodiversity are destroyed and replaced with monocultural plantations and factory farms, pathogens like Covid-19 more frequently jump from animal hosts to humans with deadly consequences.
U.S. consumers are linked to this destruction by the globalization of trade that drives this destruction of biodiversity and impoverishment of people. The ecological unequal exchange in this trade exploits the rainforests of countries like Papua New Guinea in order to provide wood, palm oil, and other products to the U.S. and other rich countries. The U.S. is the world’s biggest importer of tropical products, which under today’s economy means the U.S. is the top destroyer of biodiversity. Papua New Guinea is the world’s third largest exporter of tropical products that destroy biodiversity.
The U.S. and other rich countries now owe PNG and other exploited tropical countries an ecological debt. The rich countries expropriated their resources, destroyed their habitat and biodiversity, and impoverished their people. We must push the U.S. to lead a Global Green New Deal that invests in the habitability of the whole planet by paying these countries for reforestation, habitat restoration, and revenues lost from cutting the international trade that drives biodiversity destruction.
Papua New Guinea Greens engaged in a community clean up.
PNG Greens Party
Within PNG, the Greens Party is standing up against this ecological and social devastation. It is the alternative to the dominant political parties in PNG that are based on more personal advancement than political principles and represent PNG elites who have enabled this plunder and taken a cut for themselves. The PNG Greens Party is the alternative to the political corruption and ethnic patronage systems that now dominate PNG politics.
The alternative that the PNG Greens represent starts with their commitment to respect for diversity that honors the biological, cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity of PNG and upholds the rights of indigenous people, ethnic minorities, women, and LGBT people.
The PNG Greens call for a participatory democracy based on grassroots community control of local affairs and electoral reforms in the national political system, including proportional representation, public campaign funding, and full disclosure of private campaign funding.
The PNG Greens advocate an alternative model of development based on ecology and social justice. They want an economy featuring the sustainable use of the renewable resources of the rainforest and ecological agriculture and an equitable distribution of income and wealth.
2022 PNG Parliamentary Elections
The PNG Greens are now preparing for the 2022 parliamentary elections. They recently acquired their first member of parliament when Richard Masere switched to the Green Party. Their goal for 2022 is to run candidates for 30 of the 111 parliamentary seats with slate that is 75% female to underscore their commitment to gender equality.
The PNG Greens Party is required by law to establish a party office, which they have budgeted at $26,000 for the year and a half leading up to the election. That budget includes a vehicle for security reasons. Andrew Kutapae, the party’s General Secretary who will run the office, lives in the dangerous Maratta squatter settlement in Port Moresby, the capital city. He is a member of the Engan ethnic group, as are the leaders of the two largest political parties, who the Greens criticize for corruption. Tribal warfare and clan-based political violence have marred previous elections. The vehicle is a necessity for the safety of Kutapae and other Greens who come to Port Moresby for party and government business.
In addition to covering the costs of the required party office, the PNG Greens need to raise additional funds for party activities, including their election campaigns.
The party is partly funded by membership fees. About 4,000 members pay 10 kinas per year, which equals $2.80 per year. That is about 1/10th of 1% of PNG’s per capita income of $2,900. For comparison’s sake, 1/10th of 1% of the U.S. per capita income $66,000 would be dues of $66/year in the U.S.
The PNG Greens also raise money from activities like BBQs, cleaning business’s yards, and car washes.
The PNG Greens Party is a member of the Asia Pacific Greens Federation (AFPG) and the Global Greens. They hope to be able to participate in the APGF and Global Greens concurrent congresses in Seoul, South Korea in January 2022.
How to Contribute to the PNG Greens Party
To meet their needs for the 2022 elections, the PNG Greens Party are asking for support from Greens around the world. Australian Greens have helped. I urge U.S. Greens to step up and make contributions as well.
You can transfer money to the PNG Greens Party via the General Secretary’s Bank Account.
Account Name: Andrew Kutapae
Address: 8Mile Ridge Port Moresby North East, PNG.
Bank Name: Bank South Pacific
Address: Waigani Drive, Port Moresby, NCD.
Account Number: 7014647122
BSB Code: 088-968
Swift Code: BOSPPGPM