Papua New Guinea is the most populous and culturally diverse of the Pacific island nations. It has a population of approximately 7.7 million speaking over 800 languages. More than 80 percent of the population live in rural areas, many organised in tribal and language groups.
The country faces several critical development challenges, including achieving and maintaining fiscal sustainability, redressing income inequality, reducing the high incidence of family and gender-based violence, enhancing the business environment, and bolstering the fledgling private sector.
New Zealand has a long history as a trusted partner to Papua New Guinea. The Joint Commitment for Development for 2015-2018 concentrated on increasing economic and food security benefits from agriculture, expanding access to affordable and sustainable clean energy, strengthening law and justice systems, scholarships to study in New Zealand, strengthening public sector economic governance and building partnerships to deliver sustainable development. Since 2012, New Zealand refocused on economic growth with increase in bilateral aid between 2015/16 and 2017/18 from NZD $13.7 million to NZD $27.7 million. We committed NZD $70 million in bilateral aid between 2015 and 2018.
In general New Zealand’s development cooperation activities were relevant and valid. A focus on agriculture, energy, gender and support for Bougainville should continue to be strategic investment areas for New Zealand. Papua New Guinea is characterized by a high level of political, economic, environmental and social volatility. A high degree of flexibility and adaptive management is required at the activity level and deep knowledge of constraints in the various sectors is required to design effective activities. Gender equality is a fundamental development issue requiring strategic attention. MFAT needs to become better at capturing the impacts of activities on different groups of people including women, men, youth and different marginalised groups.