Nadi, 20 March 2013 – Pacific Island ministers and development professionals have called for bold and strong measures to ensure that the extractive industries sector in the region reaps sustainable development results.
An outcome drafted at the end of a three day meeting calls for commitment by Pacific governments to respect the environment, human rights and transparent revenue distribution mechanisms.
The “Pacific Symposium on Managing Extractive Industries in Pacific Island States to Improve Human Development,” which ended today was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and attended by more than 60 participants from Cook Islands; Fiji; Papua New Guinea, including the Autonomous Region of Bougainville; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Vanuatu; Timor-Leste; Nauru and Indonesia.
“As the global demand for natural resources like oil, gas and minerals increases, the demand for resource extraction in the Pacific will expand. The Pacific’s past experiences with natural resource extraction has been challenging and the region is now poised to benefit from the increase in demand. This is an opportune time to take bold measures to do things better and advance human development,” said UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and the Deputy Director for Asia Pacific, Nicholas Rosellini.
“By getting together ministers, government officials, CSO representatives and development partners working in the area of extractive industries, through the Pacific Symposium, we were able to identify the key challenges facing the sector and outline the way forward.”
Some of the challenges discussed included the distribution of revenue generated by extractive industries to achieve human development; the impact of resource extraction on the environment and society; as well as governance issues.
The outcome statement called for the effective management of the triangular relationship between governments, the private sector and communities. It noted that many of the issues in managing extractive industries were political rather than technical.
The outcome statement also encouraged Pacific Island countries to design their own extractive industry revenue distribution mechanisms, learning from global experiences. It called for engaging with communities and building partnerships for long-term sustainable development. The outcome statement highlighted government and businesses responsibility with regards to human rights and called for the inclusion of women in decision making in the extractive industries sector.
The Pacific Symposium was a follow up to an international meeting held in Mongolia in 2011 in which representatives from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste participated. It featured some of the key issues that were discussed in Mongolia, such as, spending and investment policies; revenue management systems; conflict prevention; governance arrangements, environmental impacts; and managing the so-called Dutch Disease.
The outcome statement from the Pacific Symposium will be released at the end of next week.