In our region, customary land – which is land that is communally owned and shared by clans – plays a crucial role in sustaining livelihoods, social security and economic development.
About 95 per cent of land in Papua New Guinea is still reportedly held under customary control and sustains the lives and livelihoods of most of the country's population. For this reason, the Constitution states that customary land cannot be bought or sold by private interests.
For decades, however, successive PNG governments, spurred on by intellectuals and "development experts" at institutions such as the World Bank, have viewed customary land as a vast untapped resource and earmarked it for mining and logging. They say that these activities will improve farming productivity, but evidence from PNG and elsewhere shows that it will not.
The current government wants to open up 20 per cent of PNG’s customary land for private tender.
We are working with our partner, Act Now PNG, to protect the country's customary land rights, support its smallholder farmers and prevent unbridled exploitation of its minerals and forests by outside interests.