THE  United States and the Papua New Guinea Government have signed a new bilateral assistance agreement that will provide US$1.5 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen PNG’s environmental resilience.

This is the first tranche of an estimated US$7.5 million package over five years, subject to the availability of funds, to support PNG’s priorities in biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, and climate change adaptation.

The new agreement resulted from close consultations between USAID and the PNG Government’s Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, and the Climate Change and Development Authority.

“This new agreement demonstrates the commitment of the American people to invest in the security and sustainable economic growth of Papua New Guinea. The U.S. Government and the American people are proud to stand with the Government of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea as partners in strengthening the country’s environmental resilience,” said U.S. Ambassador for Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu Catherine Ebert-Gray.

Ambassador Ebert-Gray said PNG has become the 23rd nation on our planet to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“This sends a powerful signal to the citizens of Papua New Guinea and the world of your commitment to preserving your environment.

“The wealth of Papua New Guinea’s biodiversity is globally recognized. Papua New Guinea’s forests represent the third largest expanse of tropical rainforest in the world, and the country’s adjacent seas form part of the Coral Triangle region, which has the world’s highest level of marine biodiversity

“Papua New Guinea’s rich and unique biodiversity resources, however, are also among the world’s most threatened. Major threats to Papua New Guinea’s biodiversity include rapid and substantial deforestation and forest degradation; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; pollution; industrial activities; and climate change. And it’s the poor – whose livelihoods depend directly on the natural world – who are impacted the most from these environmental threats.”