PAPUA New Guinea will host its first Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting, the third APEC meeting of ministers responsible for forestry (MMRF3) in Port Moresby, from 27 – 29 October.

MMRF3 will provide an opportunity for Papua New Guinea to chair a discussion on the direction of the forestry sector.

Minister for Forests Douglas Tomuriesa said forestry-related economic activity makes up a vital part of PNG’s economy and it is fundamental to work towards sustaining the sector.

“A number of important issues will be discussed at the ministerial meeting including technical cooperation between economies to ensure best practices, the prevention of illegal logging and engagement with local communities,” Mr Tomuriesa said.

“As one of the world’s largest forestry producers, Papua New Guinea has an important role to play in guiding the development of the industry.”

PNG is taking a number of steps towards sustainability, which include the end of round log exports and nearing a resolution of issues relating to Special Agriculture and Business Leases, Mr Tomuriesa said.

“We see Papua New Guinea contributing to the global community in our proactive participation in the other international forums such as the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, the Forest 11 countries and multi-lateral organisations such as UNFF and UNFCCC,” he said.

Mr Tomuriesa stressed the importance of learning from the experiences of others working in sustainable forest management and conservation and to provide leadership in working to enhance PNG’s forest industry.

MMRF3 is one of up to 200 APEC meetings that will take place in Papua New Guinea in preparation for the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November 2018.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who is also the minister responsible for APEC, said the meeting and other APEC events provide an opportunity for Papua New Guinea to make an important contribution to regional policy discussion, and to gain from APEC’s knowledge and skills base.

“The ultimate outcome of our involvement in APEC is that we expand export opportunities for our businesses, increase our technical capacity and create jobs for Papua New Guineans,” Mr O’Neill said.

“As one of only 21 APEC Member Economies we have to make use of the opportunity this provides to our nation to contribute to regional economic policy development.”

“Through APEC we have access to knowledge, skills and training as well as information on product and technical standards across a broad range of sectors,” Mr O’Neill said.

“This includes APEC research on improving post-harvest processes in agriculture, the experience of other economies in strengthening their tourism sectors, and we can have APEC projects undertaken in Papua New Guinea to empower women in small business.”

The ministerial meeting has been facilitated through engagement between the PNG Forest Authority, the APEC PNG Secretariat and the Asia-Pacific Network for Sustainable Forest Management and Rehabilitation.

Hosted in Port Moresby in late October, MMRF3 will include a trade expo that will showcase PNG’s forestry products to key industry stakeholders from around the region.

MMRF3 follows two previous forestry-related ministerial meetings in China in 2011 and in Peru in 2013.