A MEMORANDUM of Understanding (MOU) signed between Papua New Guinea and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will help address the development challenges before the nation.

PNG foreign affairs minister Rimbink Pato signed the MOU with SPC director general Colin Tukuitonga, with the parties focusing on improving service delivery and on achieving sustainable development goals.

SPC is a scientific and technical organisation based in the Pacific with a mandate of developing the abilities of Pacific Islanders.

Mr Pato said the agreement would strengthen ties to address PNG’s complex development challenges in a more holistic way, while helping Papua New Guinea to prepare for the implementation of its Sustainable Development Goals.

“This agreement is based on a genuine spirit of collaboration in which our government and the Pacific Community will seek to complement one another’s efforts more and embrace the contributions of other partners to achieve development outcomes that will assist the people who need it most,” he said.

Dr Tukuitonga said the agreement also referred to work already under way between SPC and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) concentrated on capacity building support in coastal fisheries, agriculture and development statistics.

“We’re committed to assisting Papua New Guinea to make transformational progress in achieving their national development goals by drawing upon SPC’s expertise,” he said.

“You will see much more of SPC on-the-ground in Papua New Guinea, driving a work program backed by our deep knowledge and experience of the Pacific context.”

SPC currently provides extensive technical assistance to PNG’s National Fisheries Authority for oceanic and coastal fisheries management activities, ranging from tuna tagging to data analysis training.

This is alongside aquaculture projects such as investigating the commercial potential of a giant river prawn species and improving the Nago Island Mariculture Facility.