Melanesia 2000 - a Millenium Conference

South Pacific Centre for Communication and Information in Development
University of Papua New Guinea
Box 320
University Post 0ffice
Papua New Guinea

Dear Colleague

Melanesia 2000 - a Millenium Conference

Many Papua New Guinea citizens, residents and overseas supporters share a concern that Papua New Guinea needs to acquire a clearer vision and plan of action for the economic and social future of the country going into the next century. At the same time in an era of unfettered capital markets, globalization, and environmental degradation there are very disturbing trends in industrialised economies both east and west which should give Papua New Guineans cause for concern.

Papua New Guinea may appear globally as an economic and political lightweight but in terms of bio-diversity, endemism, cultural and ecological diversity and residual rainforest it is of world significance. PNG represents a phenomenon that the world needs even though they don't fully realise it yet. The following may be important emerging issues:

  • PNG was and is a huge carbon sink. What value is it to the rest of the world to maintain and expand this sink?
  • PNG has a huge slice of the worlds languages and an unparalleled ethnic diversity. What value is this in the global village?
  • PNG has a hugely disproportionate slice of the world's bio-diversity. What value is this to the world?
  • PNG has a society based on surviving small collectives closely tied to their land. In "developed" countries people are atoms in a sea of mega-molecules, big government and the multi-national corporations. People are desperately trying to reassert civil society with people-power forming a host of collectives from Internet communities to NG0s of every ilk.
  • Is it in the global interest to capitalise on the things that the nation is good at. such as conserving nature - "staying the same"?
  • "Traditions for tomorrow" - what is the role of folk knowledge as bridge and continuity?

The west is slowly realising the hidden costs of their own development and it is a very appropriate time to take stock of the potential situation. Open examination of the present trends in Papua New Guinea and the world at large should help Papua New Guineans appreciate their tremendous future benefits. Further analysis could lead to a planning a Melanesian future that is unique and the envy of many in the modern world.

To provide for the necessary discussion it is proposed to hold a national forum to bring thinkers from PNG and abroad together to consider the possibilities of a

Melanesia 2000 and Beyond
6 - l0th March 2000
Islander Travelodge, Hotel, Port Moresby

Conference goal:   To provide a forum for discussion of a vision for Papua New Guinea in the 21st Century and to develop a framework for realizing that vision.

Problems, Issues, Challenges
Melanesian past and present must project the way into the future.
Global trends and Papua New Guinea. Is there a Melanesian future? Or is there just a world future?
Sustainability from the village to the planet. How much do we need the world and how much does the world need us?
Urbanization and the modern village. Examine the basis for the slow pace of adoption of appropriate technology for village improvement.

A vision of a modern village as an attractive place to live, easily competing with the cities. Issues to include:

Self reliant management
Bottom up planning
Customary Land management using, for example, Land Groups Incorporation Act.
Appropriate technology and services
· Permanent housing from local materials, power
· Health care, water, sanitation,
· Power, telecommunications, information technology, universal literacy
· Improved subsistence adding nutrition gardening (permaculture), rabbits, ducks, hybrid tilapia.
Women, gender, and development
Information and Communication Technology
Rural employment and income generation
Eco-forestry, handicrafts, forest products, eco-tourism, Carbon trading Food crops to well planned agribusiness.

Practicalities, Outcomes
Develop a plan for a Rural Development Agency to facilitate the empowerment of village people. The Rural Development Agency would be involved in bottom up planning (Development Options Studies) and use of the Land Groups Incorporation Act. (Resource mobilization). Identify ways to assist, expand and fill gaps in agencies already involved in empowerment of village people. (Social mobilization). Identify ways to involve donor agencies.

Melanesian future and to help plan an action framework to realise the vision. This initiative can be seen as a practical follow up to Kumul 2020.

Some initial ideas for the meeting are attached. In order to refine this outline the organisers would appreciate your views on the following points (and any other ideas you may care to contribute):-

  1. Does the topic interest you as being relevant at this point in time in PNG'?
  2. Are there any changes or additions you would like to see made?
  3. It will be possible to arrange a "virtual" conference in advance of the actual event - would you like further details?
  4. Would you be interested in attending to 2000 conference:
    1. as a participant
    2. as a speaker / panelist. In this case what would be the topic on which you like to contribute.

I hope you are able to help the committee advance the idea! Please get in touch if you have the time to spare to work on the Steering Committee.


Tony Power (phone - 675- 323 5662)
John Evans (phone - 675- 326 7260; fax - 675 - 326 0127)
For Steering Committee