At the 12th Pacific Island Conference of Leaders in Honolulu, Hawaii from September 12-14, 2022, the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) announced a new five-year, up to $18.5 million activity to combat climate change by conserving forests in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The New Guinea Rainforest (spanning PNG and Indonesia), is the third largest in the world and a major carbon sink that is critical for global climate goals. Since 2000, PNG has lost 1.65 million hectares of tree cover, resulting in 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equal to the emissions from running 16 coal-fired power plants for 20 years).
USAID will work with the Government of PNG, Palladium International, Forest Trends, and FORCERT, a local organization supporting natural resources management, to improve forest governance, increase the environmental sustainability of the forest industry, and protect land and resource rights, thereby reducing deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions.
Of the $18.5 million, USAID plans to invest $2.5 million under the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund to support women as forestry and conservation leaders. This investment will support women’s participation in sustainable agroforestry and the development of businesses that manage ecosystem services. This funding helps deliver on USAID’s commitment at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to increase gender-responsive climate programming.
The new activity builds on other USAID conservation efforts, such as supporting the creation of PNG’s Mt. Goplom Conservation Area – one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems in the Highlands region, which sets aside more than 4,000 hectares of pristine rainforest for biodiversity conservation. The activity also contributes to USAID’s Climate Strategy goals to conserve 100 million hectares of critical landscapes – an area more than two and a half times the size of California – preventing 6 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.