PNG and Fiji sign up to carbon offset scheme

In Glasgow, on the sidelines of the COP26 negotiations, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have signed up to the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offsets Scheme. It is an Australian initiative and part of the government’s plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

This scheme will allow for the continuing extraction, burning and export of fossil fuels by offsetting some of the emissions through projects elsewhere such as reforestation.

Fiji and PNG are the first two countries who have signed up to this scheme and this has been publicised by the Australian government as part of how they can assist the “Pacific family” in addressing the challenges of climate change.

However, there are concerns that by joining this scheme, Pacific countries may be constrained in how much they can push for Australia to transition away from coal as they will be deriving an economic benefit from the scheme.

West Papua’s “government in waiting” issues a “Green State Vision” in Glasgow

Also in Glasgow, independence leaders from West Papua have launched their “Green State Vision”.

Among the objectives of this initiative are to make ecocide a “serious criminal offence” and “restoring guardianship of natural resources to indigenous authorities, combining Western democratic norms with local Papuan systems”.

In addition, resource extraction industries will be downsized and possibly halted altogether. Currently, West Papua is home to the Grasberg mine. It is the largest gold mine in the world.

In linking environmental protection to self-determination, Benny Wenda has declared the Green State Vision as the means by which the world’s third largest rainforest can be protected. Wenda is the leader of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. In December of last year, he was declared to be the President in waiting of an independent West Papua.

Australian government launches campaign to prevent absconding from farms

The Australian government has launched a campaign to warn Pacific seasonal workers of the consequences of absconding from their places of employment.

Official figures reveal that more than 1,000 workers left their employers during the last financial year. Some subsequently returned to continue their contracts. The terms of the visa on which seasonal workers are employed in Australia include that they are tied to one employer for their stay.

The campaign threatens workers with consequences such as preventing their families and communities from being employed as seasonal workers, and damaging relationships between their countries and Australia. It echoes language that has been used in Samoa and other Pacific island sending countries.

However, several commentators have argued that more attention needs to be paid to what is causing workers to walk off farms and ensuring there are appropriate mechanisms for them to raise concerns.

Tahiti wins 2027 Pacific Games

Over the weekend, it was announced that the 2027 Pacific Games will be held in Tahiti.

The French Polynesian bid was enough to overcome the only contending proposal, which was from Vanuatu.

This will be the third time that Tahiti has sought to host the high-profile event, in which 24 countries are expected to participate. The French territory last hosted the Pacific Games in 1995. It had previously bid to host them in 2019 and 2023, and had lost out to Tonga and Solomon Islands respectively.

The 2027 Games are expected to attract 4,500 athletes. In 2024, Tahiti will be the venue for the surfing events that are part of the Paris Olympics.

Vanuatu had hoped to be successful based on its hosting of the Pacific mini-games in 2017. The country has yet to be given an opportunity to host the Pacific Games. It previously lost out to Papua New Guinea in 2015.


Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.