At the 12th Pacific Island Conference of Leaders in Honolulu, Hawaii, September 12-14, 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new five-year, up to $18.5 million activity to combat of climate change by protecting forests in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
New Guinea’s rainforest (which stretches across PNG and Indonesia) is the third largest in the world and is a major carbon sink critical to global climate goals. Since 2000, PNG has lost 1.65 million hectares of trees, resulting in 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions (equivalent to the emissions from running 16 coal-fired power plants for 20 years).
USAID will work with the PNG government, Palladium International, Forest Trends and FORCERT, a local organization that supports natural resource management, to improve forest stewardship, increase the environmental sustainability of the forest industry, and protect land and resource rights and thereby reducing deforestation and carbon emissions.
Of the $18.5 million, USAID plans to invest $2.5 million through the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund to support women as forest 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 meet USAID’s commitment at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to increase gender-biased 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 most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world in the Highlands region, which includes more than 4,000 hectares of pristine rainforest for biodiversity conservation reserved. The activity also contributes to USAID’s climate strategy goals of conserving 100 million hectares of critical landscapes — an area more than two and a half times the size of California — and avoiding 6 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.