On the 30th of September 2019 to the 02nd October 2019, eighteen participants from fifteen (15) environmentally focused Community Based Organizations and church groups, gathered at the Miles Lodge at 12 Mile, just outside of the city of Lae, (Morobe Province), for a three-day workshop of learning, relationship building and networking. This workshop was facilitated by the Center for Environmental Law & Community Rights Inc. (CELCOR), under its Community Legal Education program, that aims to bring legal education and awareness on environmental and land rights to local communities affected by industrial developmental activities.
This workshop, the Momase Regional Workshop: Land Rights and Sustainable Resource Management as an Approach to Address Environmental Issues “Yumi Wok Bung Wantaim”, was aimed at bringing together CBOs/ Church Groups/Local NGOs working in the environmental /land/development projects issues space, to learn from one another and to create a larger and strengthened network of like-minded community groups whom most times work in isolation from, one another. This was a gap that CELCOR identified and sought to address utilizing the pre-existing legal education framework, with a slight adjustment on the audience its usually presented to and the sessions presented.
The eighteen participants came from a variety of community-based organizations and NGOs and church groups such as 350.PNG, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG, Bismarck Ramu Group, Project Sepik, Turubu Eco-Forestry Development Program to name a few. These organizations and groups focus on addressing environmental issues such as climate change, deep sea tailings, illegal logging, Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) abnormalities, mining & production development, conservation and REDD+.
CELCOR presented informative sessions of Land Tenure History in PNG, Special Agriculture Business Leases, Forestry in PNG, Land Grabbing, Mining and Deep-Sea Mining, Climate Change, Deep Sea Mine Tailings, Oil Pam industry in PNG and Coal Mining & Production and usage, all from a national and legislative perspectives. This enabled the participants to have a national/ regional and world view of the issue as well as have a better understanding of the national laws and policies in place in PNG that govern certain industries and systems.
Sessions were facilitated by the Community Legal Education and Awareness Raising (CLEAR) staff and in-house policy lawyer, as well as NGO partners, the Bismarck Ramu Group and Madang Resources Owners Association.
In addition to the information sharing sessions, a CBO mapping exercise was carried out to identify where respective organizations were based and keeping in line with the theme of the workshop ‘Yumi Wok Bung Wantaim’, participants went through a series of exercises that enabled them to strategically look at their area of focus and how best they could be able to strengthen their existing and potential networks as well as identify particular way forward actions that could be taken to assist in addressing the issues they are working on.
The participants and the facilitators of the workshop also had the tremendous honor of visiting the local Lae urban area coastal villages, Labu # 1 and Wagan Village, organized by the participants from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea This was an honor as the Evangelical Lutheran Churches recent Youth Synod in August 2019, saw the building and launching a traditional canoe in the Labu village as a way to raise awareness up and down the Momase Coast on Sea Bed Mining that was proposed by Nautilus
Minerals Ltd (which was deregistered from the Canadian Stock Exchange) for the Solwara 1 Project and Deep Sea Tailings that Waffi Golpu , owned by Newcrest Ltd, will be planning to pipe into a underwater trench in the Huon Gulf, which will threaten and negatively affect the livelihood and health of the population living within and along the Huon Gulf and Solomon Sea coast. The community members of Labu and Wagan deeply appreciated the visit of the group to their respective villages to see firsthand as to what they are fighting to conserve and their advocacy measures.
The CELCOR staff at this time with 350.PNG representatives took this time to also talk about the proposed Coal Plant which is to be developed less than 1kilometer away from Labu # 1 village and its detrimental effects on the environment and health of the nearby communities.
The workshop ended on a high note that saw the participants identify a communal way forward to addressing environmental issues within the Momase Region and to enable a collaborative and collective effort to ensure environmental best practice is upheld at all times, with the best interests of the people of Momase and the greater Papua New Guinea at heart.