Panel Discussion Raises Awareness on Deep Sea Mining
- Nigel Akuani
Port Moresby: An informative panel discussion dedicated to creating awareness of the harm caused from Deep-Sea Mining (DSM) was held on Friday 13thMarch, at the Catholic Bishops Conference, Gordons.
The discussion is the 3rdtalk Series to be hosted by CBC, and had Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb, Social Communications Secretary, as the moderator. Panellists were Cardinal Sir John Ribat MSC, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby,Ms Marie Mondu, Development Secretary of CBC, Mr Peter Bosip, Director of Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, and Mr Jonathan Mesulam, spokesperson for Alliance of Solwara Warriors.
Issues raised includedlobbying for the cancellation of the “Solwara 1 Project” Mining Licence and all exploration licences of DSM in PNG,the Environmental, Economic, Legislative, Social and Cultural implications, and the current situation of Deep-Sea Mining in PNG.
Panellists began with giving their professional and personal opinion on activities currently affecting the environment and the various life forms that depend on it. Though informative, it became more intense during the ‘Question and Answer’ Session when panellists were asked a string of hard minded questions from audience members.
Cardinal Ribat emphasised the Churches’ active role in voicing the depressing concerns and silent sufferings of the majority to the government. “When industries like this operate, our people in the rural areas suffer the most because they depend primarily on the land and sea for survival. Even though they speak, no one listens to them,” he said.
“The government has to start caring, and put a stop to the selfish mentality of creating mushroom policies to make millions overnight at the expense of everyone else and the environment,” he added.
Ms Mondu spoke of the importance in self-identity and said it was key to understanding, appreciating and protecting all living things and the environment. “We are connected to everything because we are co-dependent and interrelate, and as social and intellectual beings, we are by nature the custodians and stewards of our Mother Earth,” she said.
Mr Mesulam bluntly stated the firm position taken by ASW against DSM, and said they gave the government till the end of December 2020, to revoke all existing DSM licences. “PNG is not ready for DSM and there has to be amendments made to the current legislation guiding the issuance of its licences. There is no evidence to suggest DSM is positive in any way, and the social and environmental destruction far outweighs any economic benefit it might have,” he said.
Mr Bosip explained the shocking truth behind DSM, and stressed that future contracts with international companies should only be entered into after proper consultation has been made with the people. “The waters of PNG were chosen because DSM is a first of its kind that has not been tried anywhere else. For the DSM company, our country was just another guinea-pig set to go for experimental trials,” he said.
He added, “Before the government enters into any agreement with foreign companies involving the extraction of raw material, all documents pertaining to that agreement have to be made available for public scrutiny.”
Ms Mavis Tito, Director of Caritas PNG, said CPNG was mandated by law to assist in humanitarian efforts and reassured that their social obligation to assisting the marginalised still stood. “CPNG as part of its efforts in social obligation, will continue to provide a strong voice for those less fortunate and disregarded by society,” she said.
Principal of Jubilee Catholic Secondary School, Mrs Bernadette Ove, expressed her anger of how K400M of taxpayers’ money was used to pay for something that never eventuated. She made a strong call to the government to invest more wisely huge sums of money in sectors that needed it most.
The occasion had 65-participants comprised of media personnel, representatives from various companies and NGO’s, members of Catholic Communities,students and teachers from Don Bosco Technological Institute and Jubilee Catholic Secondary School, and staff of CBC.