While they have a close geographic relationship, Papua New Guinea and Australia each have remarkably different environmental assets – and challenges.

Environment of Australia

Photo: Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks Ningaloo
http://www.exmouthdiving.com.au/

Australia is the world’s sixth largest country with a diverse and unique environment stretching across the world’s second driest continent. Its geography is remarkably flat and made up of 20 percent desert.  Vast plains and plateaus stretch across the dry inland, with major rivers clustered near the coasts save for the massive Murray-Darling system which drains four states through the Murray River in South Australia. The continent’s remoteness has resulted in the evolution of many unusual examples of plants and animals.

Lake Hume, Victoria. (Photo: Tim J Keegan/Flickr)

Human activities in the past two hundred years have significantly altered the Australian environment, with agricultural and urban development placing demands on water and land use.  Issues include salination, overgrazing, land clearing, water scarcity, exotic species, coastal pollution, species loss and climate change.

Among 19 Australian sites on the World Heritage List are the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and K’gari (Fraser Island).

Australia’s Federal government is the primary environmental regulator. The Department of Environment oversees regulation, approvals and environmental monitoring.  Each state government also regulates environmental law in their jurisdiction, and retains direct management of national parks and other physical resources.

Environment of Papua New Guinea

The rugged volcanic land and surrounding islands of Papua New Guinea are home to the world’s third largest tropical rainforest. The forests sustain an estimated 85 percent of the country’s population with food and shelter. The mainland rises from the coast to a spine of daunting peaks, the highest being Mount Wilhelm at 4,509 metres.  The highlands are drained by major rivers to the north and West: the Sepik is the country’s longest, flowing more than 1100 kilometres along the coastal lowlands of the north; the Fly river system flows South along the border with Indonesia to the delta in Western Province. There are more than 600 islands, stretching from Manus in the North across to Bougainville and down to the Torres Strait. There are active volcanoes and the entire nation is regularly subjected to seismic activity.

Felled timber logs, Gulf Province PNG. Photo: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Greenpeace

Environmental degradation, habitat loss and mining pollution are the primary environmental challenges for PNG.  Exploitation of forestry resources, and the clearing of land for agricultural development has led to the loss of forest cover and the species that live within it. Poor regulation in fisheries has led to overfishing. Major environmental consequences have resulted from mining development including the pollution of the Fly river from the disposal of mine tailings.

The lead agency for environmental regulation is the Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency, and interaction with global climate policy is managed by the Climate Change and Development Authority.

The Kuk archaeological site in the Western Highlands has been listed for World Heritage protection, and a number of other sites have been nominated including the Kikori Basin, the upper Sepik, and the Nakanai caves in New Britain.

Links & Resources

PNG and Australia are members of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, which provides technical technical assistance, policy advice, training and research activities to assist its member countries to protect and deliver sustainable environmental development outcomes.

Australia and PNG collaborate in marine environment conservation such as the Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and Torres Strait Treaty Environmental Management Committee.

Australia and PNG are both parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Australia’s Environment Department is the lead agency overseeing national environmental law, regulation and management of national environmental resources.

The Australian Government has this summary of the country’s natural environment.

Geoscience Australia maintains extensive resources on Australia’s geography and natural resources.

The Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority is PNG’s primary agency for environmental regulation and management.

The Climate Change and Development Authority manages PNG’s engagement with international climate policies and regulation.

PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority maintains online data about mining leases and projects.

The PNG Forest Observatory maps the country’s forest resources.

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Emerging Leader Participants

Brandon John - Field Environmental Coordinator, Inter-Oil Corporation - Lowy Institute

Brandon John

Field Environmental Coordinator, Inter-Oil Corporation

ELD Year:
2015

Country:
Papua New Guinea

Current Location:


Zha Agabe-Granfar - Non-Executive Director, Solartec Global Limited - Lowy Institute

Zha Agabe-Granfar

Non-Executive Director, Solartec Global Limited

ELD Year:
2016

Country:
Australia

Current Location:


Nicholas Metherall - Policy Officer, Department of the Environment and Energy - Lowy Institute

Nicholas Metherall

Policy Officer, Department of the Environment and Energy

ELD Year:
2017

Country:
Australia

Current Location:


Jeffrey Noro - Director for Policy, Papua New Guinea Science and Technology Council and Secretariat - Lowy Institute

Jeffrey Noro

Director for Policy, Papua New Guinea Science and Technology Council and Secretariat

ELD Year:
2017

Country:
Papua New Guinea

Current Location:


Nicholas Papas - Architect - Lowy Institute

Nicholas Papas

Architect

ELD Year:
2018

Country:
Australia

Current Location:
Sydney

Nicholas Papas is a full-time architect based in Sydney who has extensive experience with research, technical support and volunteering in Papua New Guinea. He is studying a postgraduate degree by research looking at sanitation in Barakau village in conjunction with the community development organisation Sago Network. In addition, Nicholas holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Architecture from the University of New South Wales.


Linh Do - Country Director Australia and the Pacific, The Climate Reality Project - Lowy Institute

Linh Do

Country Director Australia and the Pacific, The Climate Reality Project

ELD Year:
2018

Country:
Australia

Current Location:
Melbourne

Linh Do is the Country Director, Australia and the Pacific for The Climate Reality Project, an organisation founded by former US Vice President Al Gore to bring everyday citizens together to deal with climate change and to promote sustainable development. Linh is a social change advocate and is responsible for fundraising, facilitating leadership journeys for Climate Reality ambassadors and developing partnerships for the organisation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Political Studies from the University of Melbourne and has undertaken executive education programs in leadership at Harvard University.


Ninning Jal - Safety and Risk Graduate Advisor, Oil Search Ltd - Lowy Institute

Ninning Jal

Safety and Risk Graduate Advisor, Oil Search Ltd

ELD Year:
2014

Country:
Papua New Guinea

Current Location:


Lyn Léger - Principal Environmental Consultant - Lowy Institute

Lyn Léger

Principal Environmental Consultant

ELD Year:
2013

Country:
Australia

Current Location:

Lyn Léger is a Principal Environmental Consultant at BMT. She has over 18 years’ experience and a background in environmental science, management and law. Lyn was previously an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Papua New Guinea, where she worked with the Milne Bay Community-Based Coastal and Marine Conservation Project. She has extensive professional experience as an environmental consultant in Papua New Guinea, where she has worked with a variety of government and industry groups.


Sisa Kini - Social Impacts Manager, Esso Highlands Ltd. - Lowy Institute

Sisa Kini

Social Impacts Manager, Esso Highlands Ltd.

ELD Year:
2013

Country:
Papua New Guinea

Current Location:
Port Moresby


Felix Kipalan - Consultant and Learning Facilitator - Lowy Institute

Felix Kipalan

Consultant and Learning Facilitator

ELD Year:
2013

Country:
Papua New Guinea

Current Location:
Port Moresby


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BMT WBM - Lowy Institute

BMT WBM

BMT WBM is a specialist environmental and engineering company and has been providing services to PNG since the early 1980s. BMT WBM delivers practical engineering and scientific solutions to many of the challenging problems being faced by Governments and industry today. Our strength lies in the intelligence and experience of our people, supported by advanced analytical tools and instrumentation. BMT WBM has a third-party accredited Integrated Management System which includes Quality Assurance (AS/NZS ISO 9001), Environmental Management (AS/NZS ISO 14001) and Safety (AZ/NZS 4801; ISO 18001).

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Kokoda Spirit - Lowy Institute

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