In their recent meet in Auckland, New Zealand, the ECFCB of Oceania (Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand, CEPAC- the rest of the Pacific discussed their knowledge, awareness and impacts of climate change in the region.
In a statement together, all the Bishops of the Pacific agreed that the place of the sea in the lives of the people would be a central focus of their meeting.
“We are acutely aware of the impact of climate change on island nations and some of our members have been visiting communities and recording the destruction of shorelines affecting them.
“On a happier note, we are heartened to learn of the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats.”
They state that their interest in the “Blue Economy” is to uphold a model of development that respects the fundamental importance of sustainability that looks way beyond any perceived short term economic windfall.
“Members of Parliament and local Governors and other civic authorities have a particular duty to promote long term economic and social development and to be vigilant in guarding against any attempts by international businesses to exploit our common resource.”
They applauded government, community and private initiatives to develop water ecotourism and sustainable sea fishing, adding that they are not “anti-development”.
“We look to the common good and thus advocate for an integrated approach to development where local customary practices are respected and communities are assisted to grow employment opportunities.”
Sharing similar thoughts, the conference also focused on the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua.
“We do not promote a view in regard to independence. Indeed we believe that where this question becomes a single focus, care to uphold and strengthen local institutions of democracy may be overlooked.
“We echo the call for quality education in Papua, for fair and transparent access to jobs, training programmes and employment, for respect of land titles, and for clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce.”
The large majority of indigenous people of Papua seek peace and the various dialogue groups, advocating and witnessing to peaceful co-existence, are a source of hope for all.
Representing PNG in the conference was Archbishop Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC (President), Archbishop of Port Moresby, PNG.