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  • Nigel Akuani

Extractive Industries urged to be Considerate and Sustainable

Port Moresby: Companies and organizations involved in the Extractive Industries have been urged to show more consideration in the extraction of natural resources and to uphold the principle of sustainability for the wellbeing of future generations.

The noble call was made by Grade Eleven students of St Joseph’s International Catholic College during their discussion of the topic ‘Impacts of the Extraction Industries’, on the Chat Room of Wednesday 20th October 2021

The five students had their talk focus on various aspects of the topic that dwelled on the background information of the Extractive Industry; Its Impact in developing economies and improving livelihoods; comparison of benefits and disadvantages the industry possesses; mention of local and international case studies; the reality of the industry’s operations here in Papua New Guinea; explanation of famous quotes emphasizing the harm created by the extractive industry; the essential role youth play in creating awareness, reducing adverse effects and boosting social change; ending with a firm call to the government of the day to be more transparent and accountable for the benefit of all indigenous people.

Sophia Pelayo, commenced the discussion by highlighting the overall positive impact of the Extractive Industries felt across society but implored for responsible and sustainable use of resources for future generations to also benefit from. “The industries include mining of oil and gas, logging and fishing, and of course the revenue generated contributes to stimulating our country’s economy. But if our resources are not carefully utilized and preserved, the next generation that we call ‘our future’ will not have much for themselves,” she said.

Shedding light on the advantages of the extractive industry, Salome Mongea-Kiap, noted that although the industry was one that built and propelled a country into development and prosperity, it also left reprehensible damages to the natural environment and its people. “It certainly contributes significantly to a nation’s wealth but usually at the cost of loss of environmental biodiversity and displacement of indigenous landowners. A classic example would be Australia that was taken over by Europeans and had the locals forcefully and harshly driven out from their homeland into the fringes of society,” she explained.

May Hasola, emphasized the detrimental and irreversible effects of the extractive industry and warned that if not managed carefully could trigger long-term political and economic repercussions on the lives of innocent people. “There needs to be thorough consideration when extracting resources because the methods used will undoubtedly interfere with long-established and enjoyed natural systems. A balance has to be recognized between development and preserving our natural environment. Proper management and sustainability should be the industry’s top priority,” she stated.

“A classic example of the industry’s mismanagement of wealth and the resulting adverse effects would be that of the Panguna Mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It created civil unrest and war that we have now come to know as the ‘Bougainville Crisis’ and whose impacts are still evident even today,” she added.

Clarifying the quote by Environmental Activist, Josh Fox that reads: ‘We are letting the extractive industries turn the world inside out’, Vincent Kepi, said it referred to the negative and prolonged impacts the industry poses to the environment. “Impacts start from deforestation, erosion, alteration of soil profiles, to contamination of local streams and wetlands. In the case that if the company operating in the area came to realize resources were now becoming scarce and chose to abandon the extraction site, it wouldn’t be able to reverse the damage caused to the environment. Instead, it would leave a scourging and permanent mark on the land,” he stressed.

He further stated that, “As energetic as we are, it’s our job as youths to inform our peers, friends and families, and to create awareness on these types of industries. There also needs to be a more genuine and tangible collaboration between youths and companies and organizations operating within the extractive industry.”

Bringing to a close the discussion, Xavier Pilon, urged the younger generation and the general public to be informed and to better understand the impacts of the Extractive Industry and our rights to speak on issues of such nature. “The resources being extracted are finite and if the current generation keeps consuming like there’s no tomorrow, sadly there won’t be much left for us to enjoy and benefit from. We need to start speaking up and waking our young people because there are still many of them who have no knowledge about the Extractive Industry.

“Surely, the government has to be more diligent in its handling of matters involving the industry, but we can’t wait expectantly for change to happen if we see that something’s not right, we have to go out and creatively make it happen. Embrace your responsibility to understand how you can be able to make better decisions for our country’s future,” he emphasized.

Chat Room on 27th October, will have once more students from St Joseph's discuss the topic 'Overcoming Peer Pressure and Living Healthy’.

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