Papua New Guinean Ambassador to South Korea Bill Veri underscored his nation’s commitment to making sure resource development projects in his country benefit not only foreign investors and the national government, but also traditional landowners, on Papua New Guinea’s 38th Independence Day.
Veri said the island nation was committed to ensuring everyone benefits from the enormous potential that lies in developing Papua New Guinea’s vast mineral and energy wealth during an Independence Day reception at Samcheonggak resort in Seongbuk-dong, Seoul, on Sept. 16.
“The leaders in Papua New Guinea recognized the rights of landowners and engaged them as active partners in any national resource development project, rather than mere spectators. That subsequent agreement on a major project in Papua New Guinea had a tripartite arrangement that includes foreign investors, the national government and landowners to enhance the meaningful participation of the people,” Veri said during the reception.
“The rights of traditional landowners as inscribed in the constitution and representing 80 percent of the land, waters and the sea bed, can be translated into benefits shared by the three parties,” he said.
The very existence of Papua New Guinea as a nation was put into doubt during what became known as the Bougainville Crisis, a long-term, low-intensity civil war sparked by a mining development project on Bougainville Island from the 1980s to 1997. Conflicts continued into the 2000s.
Although the country recorded some of the fastest growth rates in recent years by exploiting its massive and still-untapped mineral and energy wealth, about 40 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day.
Papua New Guinea became independent from Australia in 1975 and opened diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1976.
By Philip Iglauer (email@example.com