The Papua LNG International Advisory Panel (IAP) held its third meeting in early April, 2023. This included a site visit to the Project area in Gulf Province (April 2 and 3, 2023) followed by a 1-day meeting (April 4, 2023) in Port Moresby involving members of the IAP and key Project staff to examine several important topics on which Panel input was sought, to review information and insights gained during the site visit, to discuss key issues, and to formulate recommendations for consideration by Papua LNG.
The members of the IAP appreciated the opportunity to visit the Project site and local villages within the Project area, which provided valuable initial insight into key aspects relating to the biodiversity, environmental, and social context of the Project. It also enabled the IAP to appreciate the need to spend additional time on site in order to explore and develop a deeper understanding of various key elements that relate to the Panel’s mission.
The IAP’s discussions with Project staff were open, frank, informative, and constructive, and they covered a wide range of important and relevant topics. The members of the Panel appreciated the willingness of Project staff to discuss complex issues and Papua LNG’s interest in the Panel and commitment to give careful consideration to its comments, suggestions, and recommendations.
A glimpse in pictures
Based on the discussions held during the IAP meeting held on 4 April, the following key recommendations were formulated and presented after the session:
Recommendations Panel #3
3-B.1 Tree Clearing Program: Avoidance & Minimization of Impact
👉🏾 Prior to initiating clearing, to identify and give careful consideration to all possible options for avoidance and minimization of impacts on biodiversity and in particular with respect to Critical Habitat triggers such as the presence of threatened species.
To ensure that appropriate species are selected for planting in the cleared areasin order to facilitate and promote ecological restoration and to establish connectivity across the pipeline route to facilitate migration.
A detailed presentation was provided to the IAP of the plan for tree clearing in preparation for the establishment of the project pipeline. The IAP noted that the plan is robust and well conceived, appears to address all key issue, and is in good alignment with the project’s commitments and obligations, incl. with regard to the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standard 6 (PS6).
3-B.2 Importance of Ecological restoration
👉🏾 To favor ecological restoration over simple reforestation or other forms of rehabilitation when planning for management of areas subsequent to impact resulting from project activities, in order both to ensure compliance with the requirements of PS6 and to maximize impact mitigation with regard to biodiversity.
3-S.1 Importance of Social Dimension
👉🏾 To be very carefully consider Community Engagement & Communication with the local population
To have a dedicated session during the next IAP meeting
The site visit, and in particular the panel member’s limited initial interaction with local villages located within the Project area, as well as discussions with Project staff, enabled the IAP to develop an understanding that, while the biodiversity and environmental aspects of the Project are important and will require significant attention and investment, the social dimension is likely to be substantially more complex and therefore represents a greater risk to Project success, compliance with commitments and obligations, and ‘license to operate’.
The site visit was, however, far too short and only gave the panel members a very brief opportunity to meet with a small sample of three villages, which may or may not be representative, and did not enable us to interact w/ communities.
Consequently, the IAP is unable to formulate specific recommendations at this time regarding the social dimension of the Project. It is clear, however, that community engagement and communication with the local population needs to be very carefully considered and should be the focus of a dedicated session during the next IAP meeting # 4.
PROJECT LARGO SENSU
3-C.1 Documentation on Project History, Experiences & Progress
👉🏾 To consider developing a dedicated program to record & document project activities, data, knowledge, insights, and experiences, and that this information be utilized for communications and educational purposes, as well as for the publication of a monograph presenting the project’s history, challenges, and accomplishments.
Significant data, knowledge, and experience have been generated during the various phases of project conceptualization, design, impact assessment, and mitigation planning (inter alia), which is contained in many reports and other documents, and/or held by project staff, consultants, and other actors, both past and present.
This information is of significant value and will be important for the project moving forward, and much of it is also of substantial potential relevance to broader stakeholders within Papua New Guinea and beyond, including scientists, students, and other interested parties.
3-C.2 The Project Success: What does it look like ?
👉🏾 To provide a complete picture of how the landscape will look, incl. both the natural & human-managed environment, as well as of the livelihoods of local communities by means of a variety of forms such as a written description, a series of illustrated pamphlets or booklets, and/or an artist’s renditions & performances.
Experience from other projects elsewhere in the world has shown that it is easier to conceptualize, understand, and communicate about the value and importance of investing in a robust environmental and social program when it is placed in the context of a long-term vision that clearly describes and articulates the goals and desired outcomes – a vision of what ‘success’ would look like following closure.
This vision could take a variety of forms such as a written description, a series of illustrated pamphlets or booklets, and/or an artist’s rendition of how the landscape will look, including both the natural and human-managed environment, as well as of the livelihoods of local communities.