Protecting Papua New Guinea's Biodiversity by Building a Home for its Environmental Data

The Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal helps improves policymaking and investments while opening a pathway for communities to seek funding and technical support.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the world's most biodiverse areas, lush with virgin rainforests and minerals, and teeming with wildlife, flora and marine habitats. Sustainable natural resource management underpins most lives and livelihoods. Yet as recently as 2021, there were only 62 designated Protected Areas (PAs), covering barely 4% (or about 18,700 sq kms) of PNG's land area — Fewer than 15% of of them could access financial or technical support.

With the Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal, not only will PNG get a centralised repository for all its environmental spatial and non-data but also a pathway will open up for environment stakeholders to seek funds and technical support, and communicate about their progress towards commitments.

The Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal: A many-handed resource

The Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal (BCG) is a participatory, open-source tool set up by UNDP under the aegis of the PNG Natural Resource Management (NRM) Hub. The BCG enables policymakers, community members, technical specialists and a range of other stakeholders to access data on PNG's natural environment. Crucially, it is also integrated with the grantmaking and reporting process for the Biodiversity and Climate Fund, a channel that will make financial and technical support available to PNG landowners and PA committees.

The Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal is designed as:

A web portal for accessing spatial and non-spatial data on Papua New Guinea's environment and Biodiversity and Climate Fund projects.

An interactive resource for grantees, grantors, specialist organizations, academic institutions and local projects to upload, share and develop information as a tool for communication and advocacy

A decision-support tool for policy makers, civil society organisations and other stakeholders who are interested in data-driven planning, policies and investments in PNG's environment.

Challenges and Opportunities

Policymakers, technical teams and others working on environmental issues need reliable, up-to-date and granular local information to help them develop data-driven environment policies and investment plans for NRM. However, access to high-quality, localized analytics has been a long-standing problem. Another challenge that is finally being addressed by the BCG is teasing local insights and guidance out of the growing body of global environmental data, to strengthen PNG's environmental decision-making.

Meanwhile, opportunities are growing apace. Digitalization has transformed how we measure, map and understand our environment. Satellite imagery can track deforestation to the level of individual trees and record coral-bleaching events in real time. Digitalized environmental datasets are helping pinpoint and analyze problems as they unfold, giving new muscles to interventions.

Aggregating high-quality global datasets with locally generated data and insights also democratises knowledge by making it available to everyone, increasing the transparency of NRM. Spatial data such as maps represent a particularly engaging format for decision-making because they easily transcend language and cultural barriers.

Many of these environmental datasets are produced by premier research institutions such as the IUCN, UNEP-WCMC, World Resources Institute and more, and may be accessed at no cost. The challenge remains visualizing this data in an actionable manner alongside local insights.

The UNDP Papua New Guinea Natural Resource Management Hub

The UNDP Natural Resource Management Hub is home to a range of support tools such as the Biodiversity and Climate Geoportal, the Bougainville Natural Resource Portal and the Lukim Gather app, which PNG's policymakers, civil society organizations and other stakeholders can use to make informed decisions on policies, investments and livelihoods. Collating and aggregating data from a wide range of sources, the NRM Hub can help with project planning, reporting and the evaluation of natural resource management processes.

Visit the UNDP NRM Hub

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This web portal is based on GeoNode open-source geospatial infrastructure.