Among the five National Goals as laid in our constitution, my essay is based on the fourth Goal: “for Papua New Guinea’s natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of everyone, and be replenished for future generations’’.
The natural resources in this respect are basically the minerals (such as gold, copper, etc.), gas, oil, fish, trees/logs, and so on that are mainly exploited in the name of money.
Many people have been making comments that our country’s progress, our peoples’ development, is not picking up well despite the natural resources-base that we have in this country. Some are blaming poor governance, that is, the lack of service-delivery regardless of major revenue generating activities that are going on. It is very alarming to see our revenue generating resources are fast depleting to a level of being irreplaceable. Thus, the outcome of these activities which are supposed to be for our collective benefit are mostly benefiting only the top people up the hierarchy, contrary to our fourth national goal. And it also seems that our future generations will be missing out, if this trend continues.
You would also see that there is no proper educational awareness of cons and pros of our natural resources exploitation activities that are going on in this country. Our national goals are just lying idle, collecting dust on the shelf, without proper dissemination of this very important piece of information to every person. I don’t know if our MPs (the chief policy makers of this land) in Parliament realise the importance of our National Goals and Directive Principles? But these national goals are in our constitution as guiding principles towards the management of this nation. Likewise, it also applies to our top bureaucrats of this nation: they should also be considerate of this goal
Villagers throughout the nation should also be made aware of this national goal so that they can help conserve our environment and natural resources, rather than involving themselves in the devastating activities in the name of ‘development’ promised by exploitative mining, logging, oil palm and other companies.
I am very scared of the way our natural resources are being handled. The way these natural resources-devastating activities are going on at this time in our country is very frightening. These money generating natural resources extractive activities and bush-clearing are going on all around the country rapidly and simultaneously. We must all bear in mind that this is an island nation that we need to take extra preventative measures to safeguard our scarce natural resources that we have at the moment. We have to conserve some of it for future generations’ benefit as well, and not extract everything at one go.
We seem to be rushing out things for today’s survival and/or for personal gains only. We don’t seem to be caring about the consequences that will come upon us as a result of.
Just try to think what your home used to be in the past, say just 10 years ago: the forest that you used to see around has now gone and planting and other activities have been substituted on it. At the same time, the population of this nation is booming in every community. We must also bear in mind that we are not a continent state like Australia or USA. We are only an island nation. I strongly believe that one day there is going to be a down-turn of this nation. And that day in question is fast approaching and will collapse this nation. Our good dreams about this nation will all go down the drain, if we are not seriously considering this fourth national goal for the overall good of this nation.
Therefore, we must try to learn from other countries who once were in our shoes but their economy has now collapsed. Like for example, Nauru. History tells that it used to be very rich in phosphate extractions and used to provide donor-funding to other Micronesian nations in need. But what is Nauru like today? Now that all its phosphate is gone, it is back to zero and worse. Now it is solely surviving from receiving donor funds, and has to accept unwanted developments such as an Australian asylum seeker detention centre.
So what lesson is Nauru telling us? It is about time we need to be very careful in exploiting our natural resources because money is not always everything, nor is it the solution to all our problems. We have to think and do things that will last and sustain this nation as a whole now and in years to come.
- Yorine Inove is a Department of Business Studies student at the University of Technology, Lae.