MEDIA UNIT | University of Queensland
BRISBANE - University of Queensland researcher Associate Professor Nick Bainton has co-written the first publicly available human rights impact assessment for a proposed gas project in Papua New Guinea.
Dr Bainton from the university’s sustainable minerals institute said the report’s publication demonstrates the slow evolution of the international community’s expectations of extractive industries.
“There is currently no legislative requirement for a company to produce a human rights impact assessment in PNG and, if they decide to, they are generally kept confidential once completed.
“The hope is that companies working in PNG’s extractive industries will build upon this example and continue to undertake impact assessments to help reduce human rights impacts,” he said.
Dr Bainton and Nora Götzmann from the Danish Institute for Human Rights were commissioned by Total Exploration and Production PNG to identify potential impacts on gender, security and conflict for the joint venture Papua liquefied natural gas project.
“In this case Total Exploration’s internal standards required an assessment to be undertaken and part of our agreement with them stipulated that a version of the report was to be made publicly available.”
The assessment involved extensive desktop research, and interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders in Port Moresby and local communities in the project’s area of influence in PNG’s remote Gulf Province.
“We met with 10 communities in the Purari River delta and coastal region, travelling between each of them by river and helicopter due to the province’s absence of roads.
“We engaged with male and female focus groups at each of the communities; first introducing them to the impact assessment and key concepts and then discussing various topics.”
The researchers met with some 400 Gulf Province community members over the course of their study, including about 160 women.
“Looking at the project’s gender outcomes was important as extractive operations often amplify existing inequalities and social divisions, largely to the detriment of women.
“To ensure the project does not exacerbate existing issues in that area, we dedicated a significant portion of the report to identifying and addressing gender-based inequalities,” Dr Bainton said.
“We made numerous recommendations relating to gender, ranging from launching proven community programs to minimise gender-based violence to suggesting Total improve the female labour market presence by using progressive targets in their contracts.”
It is expected that negotiations between the project’s joint venture partners and the PNG government will be finalised in 2019 with operations to be launched in 2024.
Invitation: Readers with expertise in this subject are invited to submit a critique of the report here or to respond using the Comment link below