“Yumi Wok Wantaim” — you and me work together

As UNDP turns 50, Roy Trivedy, UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea reflects on country’s development and why working together is vital.

I am a runner. Every Saturday at 5 pm I run with the Port Moresby Road Runners Group. Almost 70 percent of the Road Runners are young unemployed people.

Most of these runners turn up every week, regardless of the weather condition. They regard the running group as the highlight of their week. They are full of energy, enthusiasm and passion. But also — they are desperately looking for jobs and opportunities for a better life. As we start our running each week, I remind myself that for all of our running group, the ‘race’ represents hope, well-being and improved prospects.

This year UNDP celebrates its anniversary. It was a long 50-year kilometre run that we did together with the governments and people from around 170 countries. We work to fight poverty, reduce inequality, empower people and — most importantly — to bring hope through peace, prosperity and sustainability.

50 years ago, one in every three people on the planet lived in poverty. Within the last 15 years extreme poverty has been reduced by more than half.

In Papua New Guinea — despite unmet MDG targets — progress is tangible.

During the past 20 years, life expectancy has increased — people in PNG now live in average 10 years more than before. We’ve seen 43% increase in the Human Development Index value for PNG (from 0.32 in 1980 to 0.49 in 2013). We now have 1 million more young people going to schools than in 2000.

We have stronger gender equality policies in place, better infrastructure and a vision for country’s future.

Leading the UNDP team in Papua New Guinea, I am particularly proud of our work with the Government and other partners.

Life in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea.

Our community-led MDG Acceleration Project helps to mobilize rural communities to come up with exciting initiatives to improve livelihoods and well-being: building a community resource centre, improving access to water, putting cassava production line in place and much more. The project demonstrates the power of local communities address their own needs and drive vital changes on the ground.

As we go to visit remote communities, which we supported within our MDG Acceleration project, we see the progress and this message.

Working on corruption issues, UNDP has pioneered and introduced innovative corruption-reporting tool, which helped to recover US $2 million of fund mismanagement from the public purse, and has resulted in a further 250 cases of alleged corruption currently under investigation.

Within our peacebuilding efforts, UNDP supported the Presidential Elections in Bougainville in 2015 and assisted the women of Bougainville to participate in the parliament elections. As a result, we saw the election of Ms. Josephine Getsi, the first woman to be elected in an open seat to the Bougainville House of Representatives.

School-girls participating in the Walk for Peace, organized by the UN in Bougainville.
Thanks to these efforts, PNG citizens are better off today than 50 years ago. But the people of the country have high aspirations and want to see further improvements.

The limited progress on MDG calls for all of us to focus on implementing the 2030 Agenda — the Sustainable Development Goals.

Working closely with the Government and development partners, I see 5 vital transformations that the country needs to focus on to advance the SDGs:

- Supporting an inclusive growth strategy that factors in climate and resource implications — through more use of ‘leapfrog technologies’ and investment in renewable technologies, that can create decent jobs and help to deal not just with the problems of today but challenges that will affect citizens in the next few decades;

- Tackling more systematically and coherently the challenges in education, skills development, health and well-being of people;

- Improving gender equality, supporting women leaders, empowering women and dealing with the high levels of gender based violence that impact on families, communities and businesses throughout the country;

- Investing more in agriculture on which 80% of citizens depend including through better irrigation, agricultural extension, improved links to markets and better use of agricultural technology;

- Getting different levels of government — national, provincial, district — to work more effectively together and ensuring that this leads to better policy and practical outcomes such as improved services and better law and order.

Thanks to UNDP’s work and partnerships over the last 50 years, we are able to use and build on our global experience and contribute to improvements in Papua New Guinea.

It will not be easy, but if we all work together or, as we say in Papua New Guinea — “yumi wok wantaim” — then we will succeed in achieving PNG’s Vision 2050 and make a real difference in the lives of citizens today as well as future generations.

Message from school kids of Papua New Guinea about the future they want.