FOREST CONSERVATION NEWS TODAY
People against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism: Unheard Rainforest
Conservation Voices from Papua New Guinea
Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.
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April 7, 2003
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Forests.org
Northern environmental conglomerates and their foundation
sponsors are not appreciably contributing to rainforest
conservation in Papua New Guinea, nor elsewhere. In a remarkably
frank set of essays, People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism –
an anonymous group of environmental dissenters in Papua New
Guinea - states foreign conservation conglomerates "whitewash
effort to please donors so that the big bucks will keep flowing."
They contradict claims that these groups have had any real
conservation impact. This meshes with my experience.
"With the help of willing donors such as AUS-AID, UNDP, The
MacArthur Foundation, and The Moore Foundation, any possibility
of achieving lasting conservation of PNG’s biodiversity is being
destroyed in the here and now... The international conservation
NGOs in PNG are proving to be a model of how not to do either
conservation or development". The well financed big-boys (the
piece below names WWF, Conservation International and The Nature
Conservancy for the sake of accuracy) are accused of having
caused "the atrophy of what would have been a natural evolution
of a truly indigenous conservation movement." Corporate,
hierarchical models of conservation based upon outside foreign
experts – often with little in-country knowledge or concern –
threatens the World's rainforest as surely as logging,
The authors of "People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism" wish
to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the eco-giants
and their money troughs. The email asks that I "get this stuff
out widely and put the pressure for AUS-AID and those groups to
stop funding these foreign NGOs". They state that to come out
publicly would result in foreign conservation interests "chasing
us down and shutting our mouths like they want" and that "we got
all kinds of people helping us." This includes Forests.org, Inc.
Questions of "environmental imperialism" can not just be shrugged
off. Papua New Guineans communally own their land. Just how
integrated have international NGOs and funders been with
landowning groups? What exactly does PNG have to show in the way
of forest conservation for the millions of dollars raised and
invested in the country by foreign multi-national eco-
This hard hitting, heart-felt plea from Papua New Guinean
conservationists come as WWF is under tremendous criticism for
its practices in PNG. Internal documents have leaked to the
regional press which indicated WWF had intentions to convene yet
another "forest summit" with World Bank money, to reform the
sector, after nearly two decades of failed efforts (see
http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid= 21392 and
http://forests.org/articles/reader.asp?linkid=21466 ). The piece
below indicates WWF's model eco-forestry project in Kikori is
a sham – and has shut down – after burning through millions of
Unless international donors and NGOs are willing to attack the
root causes of forest destruction; including their own neo-
colonialist methods, they should not be tolerated. In Papua New
Guinea, endemic corruption fueled by an irredeemable foreign
timber mafia is destroying the World's third largest rainforest
expanse. Any rainforest conservation effort that refuses to
confront this reality - and call for a moratorium on industrial
log exports, a commission of inquiry into the logging industry,
and transitioning all donor support and government policy towards
supporting community based, eco-forestry and local
conservationists – is aiding and abetting the enemy.
Global deforestation continues largely because of poorly
conceived international rainforest conservation programs. The
best conservation efforts in the World are occurring around
kitchen tables and campfires by small groups of concerned people
concerned organizing to protect a particular forest area. John
Seed of Rainforest Information Centre has for years identified
such self-motivated individuals, and through a small grants
program provided modest funding to help these groups. I am quite
certain this and other similar efforts have done more for the
World's forests that all the corporate NGOs and clueless
environmental foundations in the World. Ol manmeri bilong ol
narapela kantri - maski long givim kina long ol giaman long wok,
na halvim ol asples karim kaikai na lukautim bus.
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
Title: INSTITUTIONALIZED NEOCOLONIALISM IN INTERNATIONAL NGOS
OPERATING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Source: People Against Foreign NGO Neocolonialism
Date: April 5, 2003
“Multinational Conservation Organisations: Neocolonialism To Be
Sure, But Not To Worry… The Donors Sure Don’t!”
1. The Big Boys Need Cash
2. Localisation, Tokenism, and Colonialism in PNG
3. Colonialism Checklist for International NGO Country Offices
4. Strategies for Success
5. The Always-Elusive Bottom Up, Participatory Approach
6. Annoyed Person
7. ICAD on the Wasi
8. Industrial Logging for Conservation
9. Another TNC Attempt At Humour
10. WWF’s Successful Sustainable Eco-Forestry In Papua New
11. Creating New Partnerships
12. WWF Hidden Agenda
13. Maybe Someone Should Consult The Natives
14. PNG Government Sellout To Foreigners
15. Natural Development of Indigenous Organisations Is Being
16. How To Hoodwink The Donors: Lessons From The Field
18. More Productive Alternatives If Donors Really Cared
19. Papua New Guineans Are Capable
20. Do The Foreign Conservationists Believe Such Things In Their
21. Advice to Donors
23. Country Office Predictions
“Large NGOs resemble multinational corporations in structure and
operation. They are hierarchical, maintain large media,
government lobbying, and public relations departments, head-hunt,
invest proceeds in professionally managed portfolios, compete in
government tenders, and own a variety of unrelated businesses.”
“Most [local] NGOs seem to have become mirrors of the European
or American NGOs and have a dependency syndrome that makes them
serve the interests of the parent NGOs that are sometimes
antithetical to our national ethos.” AFRICAN NEWS
“Under the banner of saving the African environment, Africans in
the last few decades have been subject to a new form of
'environmental colonialism'." DR ROBERT H. NELSON
“Is colonialism so accepted in our world today that we should
expect an African to be the first to take action before anyone
will move to purge it from the organization? Does our silence
suggest we have so quickly forgotten centuries of another form of
colonial servitude?” AFRICAN NGO LEADER
“Citizens who have become CI country directors are right in the
middle of continuing this colonial system because they refuse to
rock the boat enough so the necessary change will occur. Don't
ever trust these foreign NGOs enough of their secret memos have
leaked by now to show they always have a hidden agenda.” [NAME
WITHHELD ON REQUEST]
"Some call it ‘environmental colonialism,’ others call it plain
racism and privilege. The underlying problem is often quite
basic, revolving around historic views of who should control the
land, perceptions of Native peoples, and ideas about how now-
endangered ecosystems should be
managed.” WINONA LADUKE
“Papua New Guinea isn’t the only victim to the growing dominance
of the multinational conservation corporations, but now it’s in
the spotlight to see if local offices will remain submissive to
le nouveau colonialisme.”
DR RUUS M. MEELER
“’I do not need white NGOs to speak for me’” JAMES SHIKWATI,
“Conservation proposals show a general pattern that is very
similar to that of… folk tales in general.” DR F VAN HELDON
“Don’t start with big projects.” DR AHMED EL-SOBKY
“The only cynics I see in this room are those who witness these
modern day NGO corporations at work, burdened with abysmal
results and obsessed with spin doctoring. Who but cynics would
feel that this is something worth supporting in any form or
fashion.” [NGO WATCHER]
“As long as the pay is OK I don’t care if they control us from
RECENT COMMENT BY A PAPUA NEW GUINEAN STAFF OF ONE OF THE INT’L
1. The Big Boys Need Cash
The biggest of the big boys have arrived in Papua New Guinea.
Conservation International, World Wide Fund for Nature, and The
Nature Conservancy. Or to use their acronymns, CI, WWF and TNC.
They all say they’re gonna save PNG’s tropical forests for
posterity. They point proudly to all that biodiversity they’ve
already saved. They need money, lots of money to save even more
biodiversity and ready donors such as AUS AID, UNDP and now the
Moore Foundation have the big bucks to distribute.
There is no indication at all that these donors give a shit
whether the money achieves anything substantive or meaningful.
What seems more important is that they get rid of the money to
some organization whose PR machine has successfully painted an
image of doing good. Whether or not any good is actually done
seems almost immaterial. More important is that the donors not
end up being embarrassed later over how the money was used. No
blatent money stealing is the big rule. Beyond that pretty much
anything goes. And woe be any NGO with the audacity to say
they’re being offered too much money to accomplish their goals.
Perish the notion that an NGO might say they want to start with
less money than what they’re being offered.
Uninhabited forests that are impossible to log or destroy in any
other way are pointed out, without the hint of a snicker, as
being “forests we have saved” by these neocolonialist NGOs.
Lines are drawn on the map to show the new conservation areas.
Yes the big boys say they’re achieving a lot of conservation in
PNG and they’ve got the maps to prove it.
It’s all a whitewash effort to please donors so that the big
bucks will keep flowing. The international consultants hired by
these NGOs are eager to help PNG save itself, leaving the country
with their pockets lined in cash and their retirements secured.
All the big boy offices back in the USA, Europe and Australia
will count the overhead cash they’ll get from doing
“conservation in PNG”. Looks like they’ll still be getting
The donors swallow the whole thing like a stupid fish biting at
bait. Almost none of them have any idea at all how to dig deeper
to find out what is REALLY going on. Do they even care? Probably
not, so long as nothing will surface that is embarrassing to
them. So the donors smile when they see the slick maps and the
copious plans. They reach into their pockets, take out another
wad of cash and flush it down the same international conservation
NGO toilet. No worries, cuz they know they’ve picked NGOs that
know how to cover up or gloss over any money waste and misuse.
The donor will never be embarrassed and that’s what counts.
LOOK impressive. AVOID embarrassment. Those are the new
cardinal rules of doing conservation in PNG now that the big boys
are in charge.
2. Localisation, Tokenism and Colonialism in PNG
The international NGOs arrived in PNG as soon as some wise mind
noticed how much tropical forest was still here. They stepped in
the door in the early 1990’s and at first tried to work with
local PNG NGOs. But there were big problems. The local NGOs
moved too slow to suit them. Some were downright cantankerous
and wouldn’t do things the way the big boys wanted them done. No
local NGO had anything close to the staff or capacity needed to
handle projects of the size the international NGOs wanted to do.
Maybe even the international NGOs found money being misused by
the local NGOs.
Whatever the reason-truthfully we should say whatever the excuse-
sometime during the 1990’s the international conservation NGOs
decided to become colonialist, since of course they knew how to
do things properly. The new green imperialists stopped working
through the local NGOs except in ways that look stinkingly like
payoffs to keep quiet, or to create the illusion of partnerships
that would make the donors feel nice and squishy inside.
Donors such as The MacArthur Foundation found it far less bother
to give a bigger piece of the pie to the international NGOs
rather than mess with the growing pains of the indigenous ones.
It saved embarrassment. Armed with these new sources of big
money, the green imperialists were well poised to make the big
When they set up shop in Port Moresby, the green imperialists had
to be careful they didn’t look too colonialist. First order of
business was to find a black face to put on display. The fastest
way to do that was to steal Papua New Guineans from existing NGOs
or government agencies. These international NGOs were in a hurry
to do conservation. They didn’t want to be bothered with
investing the resources needed to build and add to the existing
capacity of PNG conservationists. It was quicker to find ready
made capacity to shift over to their corner of the room. Anyway
if the Papua New Guineans watched and listened quietly they’d
pick up how things should be done.
The neocolonialists always set up shop in town, never near the
people with whom they say they work in partnership with. That’s
because the town offices allow better contact to the powers that
be in Moresby, or the bosses in Washington, DC. Or Sydney. Or
Glanz. Communication with villagers was always secondary-the
office locations speak for these NGOs speak that in decibels.
Always secondary. But the plans never say that. No, these green
imperialists dwell on how closely they work with the villagers.
Maybe true if the villagers can find their way to the offices in
town, but that would mostly be the village spivs.
The green imperialists made sure they appended “PNG” to their
own acronyms to make their new operations look PNG born and bred.
But the timetables, the schedules, the report requirements, and
most everything else about the enterprise was most certainly not
coming from PNG. Nope. It was all being imposed from outside.
When anyone questioned this oddity, it was justified as being
something universal or a way that Papua New Guineans were just
going to have to learn if they wanted to compete in the new
world. Ignorant of their own hypocrisy, they talked about the
evils of multinational mining companies and foreign loggers while
creating their own blend of outside imposition on PNG.
Most importantly when the international conservation NGOs set up
shop they make sure they built a pipeline large enough to allow a
steady stream of foreign consultants to start flowing to PNG.
Consultants who come armed with laptops, cookbook steps to
winning the hearts of villagers and landscape ecology theory and
planning notions that make no sense at all to the villagers.
Consultants who make more money in a day than most of the
villagers they ‘help’ would make in a year. Consultants who
drown themselves in malaria prophylactics, sunscreen, dark
glasses and fancy boots, but breathe a sigh of relief if they can
keep their time in the village to a minimum. It’s a lot more
productive and faster to plan the conservation project in one of
the nicer hotels in town. That way you can sleep in a ‘real’ bed
and eat ‘civilised’ food. The whole nasty picture is fully armed
with justifications, excuses, and supporting rules and
regulations, all ensuring that the fundamental rule of foreign
aid bounceback is met. So much money for PNG conservation, yet
so little seems to stick. Besides, it would spoil the villagers.
One would think we were talking about the impeccably evil World
Bank or IMF here. Nope. We’re talking about Conservation
International. The Nature Conservancy. World Wide Fund For
Nature. They’ve all got their cadre of laptop toting consultants
and advisors ready to crank out on demand, yet another new plan
for PNG conservation. Bounceback. Bounceback. Bounceback. So
much money for doing conservation in PNG.
These international conservation NGOs will point with pride to
how well they’ve localized. But if any donor would bother to
look-and they never do-localization is constructed so that it
never threatens the NGO’s long term colonialist presence in PNG.
Jobs held by expatriates are available for filling by Papua New
Guineans, but definitely not by Papua New Guineans who stand up
for PNG and call out the colonialist deeds of the NGOs for what
they are. Such people are radicals, troublemakers, unproductive
people that must be kept out of the system. Those very few Papua
New Guineans who have dared complain that their overseas bosses
are not following the bottom up philosophy they hold so dear to
their hearts have been shoved aside from the top down the moment
their contract comes due for renewal.
You will never, ever hear any talk or see any plans that indicate
that the international NGOs have a plan to devolve into a truly
PNG, truly national NGO. Never. Like the sticky tentacles of an
octopus, the mouth of the green imperialist gets its food from
what the arms can reach in PNG, in Africa, in Asia. It’s okay to
replace white faces with black at all levels of the organization.
But just like Chevron Niugini, the first word in that NGO’s name
is expected to always remain WWF, CI, or TNC. There is no other
game plan. Globalisation in all its negative aspects begins in
PNG with the international conservation organizations.
Neocolonialism is alive and well in PNG in the form of WWF-PNG,
TNC-PNG, and CI-PNG.
It’s clearer tokenism when Papua New Guineans are hired to fill
the ranks of these local ‘branches’ of behemoths headquartered in
the developed. That’s where the strings are pulled and there is
no plan to do it any other way. The donors never bother to
question how any of this leads to true capacity, pride and
independence. Anyway, the international conservation NGOs have a
slew of buzz words and rosy prospects should the questions be
asked. They’ll also say they’ve only done this to ensure the
funds are used properly, but that shows how well they’ve bought
into their own bullshit. In one specific case, an international
NGO has become very aware that money is being misused in Port
Moresby. The story, in fact, is all over the NGO community but
fortunately those people don’t talk to the donors and the donors
wouldn’t get their trust even if they bothered to ask. The
international NGO has everything under control. They won’t sack
the fellows, that might cause uncomfortable questions and
embarrassment. Instead, they’ve found ways to keep the misuse at
a manageable level. Which beckons the question, how is any of
this an improvement over what existed before the international
NGOs moved into PNG?
While elsewhere in the world, people bemoan expressions of ‘green
imperalism’ in the context of blatant outside imposition of
nature reserves, or the laying down of western environmentalist
priorities for people with other priorities. In Papua New Guinea
the green imperialists have reached a new, much sneakier level.
Their presence has, at best, has caused the atrophy of what would
have been a natural evolution of a truly indigenous conservation
movement. The truly PNG NGOs have no ability to compete against
the big boys even if they wanted to, in fact in many ways it’s
easier to give up and just copycat the green imperialists. The
donors will appreciate this new professionalism, it makes them
almost feel like they’re back home.
The international conservation organizations pay higher salaries
than indigenous conservation groups could possibly afford, or
feel would be wise to offer. It’s not that the indigenous
conservation group necessarily want to compete to offer these
salaries. More troubling is the sabotage that these high
salaries cause to the nurturing of philosophies such as
“conviction” or “sacrifice”. In PNG, the international
conservation groups look and act little different than government
itself which is a big laugh when the former government employees
stand up at meeting and tell everyone how they’re different from
government. In 2001 the local heads of all these PNG offices had
come straight from the PNG government bureaucracy. They’ve
learned to use the right words- bottom up, participatory, one
with the community when they speak to the donors or to anyone
who’ll listen. Then at the coffee break the senior management
complain to each other about how low their pay is. The big bosses
overseas look the other way and pontificate about how dedicated
and committed their staff are on the ground. Get off it. In PNG,
the higher level staff are in it for the money, not the cause,
that fact radiates in almost any performance measure you care to
apply. So much for grassroots conservation. In PNG, we’re in the
business of conservation.
My friends, neocolonialism is alive and well today in Papua New
Guinea. It takes the shape of the multinational conservation
organizations. But the donors don’t care. They just need to get
rid of their money in a way that makes them feel good, and
doesn’t later cause embarrassment.
3. Neocolonialism Checklist for International NGO Country
Evaluating how much neocolonialism has captured Papua New
Guinea’s country offices starts with knowing the definitions of
colonialism and neocolonialism.
Definition 1- "Colonialism is a system designed to extract wealth
of any kind from the colony and transfer it to the mother in a
way that benefits the mother more than the colony."
Definition 2-“Neocolonialism is when a body that in theory is
independent and has all the outward appearances of independence,
internally has its economic and political policies directed from
outside. This relationship is detrimental whenever those ties
allow the outside party to subjugate, overrule or compromise the
best interests of the supposedly sovereign body.”
Know the signs of colonialism. Things to evaluate in the
multinational conservation NGOs operating in PNG include:
A. Transfer & accumulation of money raised supposedly for PNG
conservation activities. Detect hidden as well as upfront
overheads such as how much money spent within PNG effectively
goes back to the originating country through hiring of overseas
advisers, transfer pricing, and purchase of foreign supplies and
equipment. Foreign NGOs run like companies should pay taxes?
B. Transfer of knowledge to PNG through extensive staff training.
What percent of time do expat consultants or staff devote to
direct training of indigenous staff.
C. Laws, rules and regulations for Papua New Guineans to follow
in the organization: who establishes them.
D. Project idea and location: where does the idea first come
from, and who first called for the research that provided it.
E. Fundraising purse strings: Who is allowed to make the initial
inquiry for raising funds. What is the latitude of potential
donors who can be contacted. How well are local staff involved
in fund raising specifically donor contacts and development of
relationships with donors.
Who controls the money at the top is of highest importance since
it is the key to who will hold the most power and independence in
Specifics to assess when establishing the extent of
neocolonialism within a country office structure. Localisation
of processes is as important as localisation of staff positions.
Do an evaluation:
1. Foreign office appointment of local heads (as opposed to a
local board or management team having exclusive jurisdiction over
2. Foreign office establishment of details of policy and
procedure that must be followed by the local office.
3. Existing mechanisms promoting the flow of benefits from the
local office back to the foreign office (rules that favour the
hiring of outside advisors by the foreign office, payment of
airfares and other costs of foreign officer visitors using funds
raised for domestic programmes, etc.).
4. Impression from the overseas public that the foreign office is
more responsible for local achievements than is the local office
(e.g. publicity crediting the organisation as a whole for local
work, which tends to be assumed as work by the foreign office).
5. Foreign office uses local projects to raise a large amount of
overhead for itself in amounts that usually exceed the actual
expenses of the foreign office supporting this enterprise
(foreign office profiteering).
6. Foreign office control or overruling of local office finances
Who makes most fundraising contacts, expat or Papua New Guinean?
Who has the best handle on fundraising contacts, expat or Papua
New Guinean? Who establishes budgets, expat or Papua New Guinean?
Who takes primary responsibility on raising funds, expat or Papua
New Guinean? Does a plan or timetable exist for localizing any of
the above process? Is there any training of Papua New Guineans to
bring them realistically to that point? (“training on grant
writing is not enough”).
Learning more about foreign NGOs with PNG country offices.
Compare the organisational policies and actions against the
checklist of colonialist activities above.
Learn from the PNG director to find out how much time they spend
satisfying directives coming from outside PNG.
Learn from other staff of these NGOs a sense of whether their
input is largely limited to evaluating preexisting ideas and
plans that actually started with overseas staff, compared to
providing their own ideas and slowly working it into a programme,
with outside assistance being limited to a facilitating or
Notice if the organisation has made recent moves to stop staff
from talking after the issue of colonialism has become public.
When positions were localised was it because a Papua New Guinean
had sufficient capacity to take over the job, or because there
were insufficient funds to keep an expat?
Where is evidence for progression towards full autonomy of the
PNG office. Can the PNG office solicit funds from competing
conservation organisations (eg from WWF, TNC, CI, WCS, etc) for
their programmes? Are they restricted to getting funds only
through their papa office, or with papa office approval?
Does any timetable exist outlining a process for the local office
to graduate and become totally independent of the founding
organisation? Date deadlines are not as realistic as laying out a
series of performance measures. Localisation plans are expected
in PNG and should apply to the localisation of the entire foreign
NGO country office as well as to individual staff positions.
Does a localisation plan exist for the pikinini office and if so
was it prepared by the papa office or the pikininis?
The international NGOs will say that the way things are is the
way it has to be and if you don’t like it then leave. In so many
words, so too did the colonial masters make this same kind of
comment. Those words do not have to be accepted.
4. Strategies for Success
The setup developed over the years is quietly, elegantly
effective. The NGO must first find an indigenous candidate whose
personal priorities lie more in pocketbook issues and following
the rules. Appointing such a person as country director reduces
possible problems. For example challenges from that kind of
country director will mostly deal with money matters that are
more easily dealt with, using payoffs if necessary. When those
kinds of country directors complain about process, the focus is
on procedure rather than structure which is also easier to deal
with and less threatening to the home office. If the country
director has good stature that can be used to effectively
counteract any spirited staff criticism underneath. The NGO can
point with pride to their success at localising positions yet
still retain effective control over the operation. This setup
requires only light steering behind the scenes to make sure that
country offices toe the line. Add to the mix a few external
conservationists who care nothing about whether or not their
involvement helps support neocolonialism, and the structure
slowly sets and cures into a stable form.
5. The Always Elusive, Bottom Up Participatory Approach
Lots and lots and lots of money. UNDP has been all too happy to
give millions to one of those international conservation NGOs
working in PNG. Which one? You know. It’s the group whose
founders originally split off from The Nature Conservancy over a
philosophical spat. They vehemently disagreed that it was morally
right to conserve forest in Latin America by just buying the
land, rather than taking the slower but more lasting approach of
working with the people. Those founding fathers of CI said the
TNC approach was no way to achieve lasting conservation in
developing countries. Yet without a hint of embarrassment today
they’ve about-faced in their views. Now they’re telling everyone
that the only way to achieve conservation in the developing world
is to buy land and resource rights. Ironic indeed, is this
really their only option or best way to achieve conservation in
places like PNG? Or in fact, has the organization managed to so
badly stuff up doing things the right way, that they’re eager to
take what looks like the easy way out? After all, donors only
have memories that last 3 or 5 years. After that, it’s another
donor and another project. Planning for the short term takes
No international conservation group would ever, ever say they
dictate to those local partners with whom they work. They would
smile sweetly and say they’re dedicated to the participatory
approach. They believe in consultation. In partnerships. In
working with people. They aren’t here to tell Papua New Guineans
what to do, but to simply give them the tools they need to make
their own choices.
CI probably uses the word participatory as much as anyone, yet
practices it just about as little as any other international
conservation NGO. In PNG CI has proven itself to be yet another
supposedly bottom up organization that reeks of top down
imposition, starting from the overseas directors, and winding
it’s way down to the dictates of field staff to the villagers
with whom they work. An American biologist boss proudly offers
his research experience in PNG that dates back to the colonial
days. Maybe that’s where he refined his ability to issue one
dictate after another. Hurryup may well be this fellow’s middle
name. Damn the people and their slowness, conservation must
proceed with speed. He even says outright that he doesn’t believe
in that capacity building nonsense at the village level that it
takes too much time. Social parameters be damned, what does any
of that have to do with the birds and the bees of PNG? The
agenda says that there must be protected areas by such and such
date. If the local people say no, find some that say yes. If all
of them say no, find someway to convince them to say yes. The
really important thing is to be able to issue a colourful map
that shows the new conservation areas because that’s what the big
bosses want to see back in Washington. The big bosses would
never, in their wildest dreams, think of coming to PNG and
spending enough time in the village to find out how superficial
it all is with the very people who own the land and control the
resources. It really doesn’t matter. No one gives a rats ass
whether or not any of the lofty plans and pretty maps have any
basis in reality. Nothing has to be meaningful. Or truthful. And
thank God Papua New Guineans tend to be reserved and respectful.
That is a perfect situation for the big boys. They can impose a
lot, then fool themselves into thinking that Papua New Guinean
silence indicates tacit approval. And if any dare speak out, they
PhD biologists, OBE patrons, and MBA directors are well trained
in debating. “I don’t think you understand the reality of the
situation,” they’ll say. Soon the Papua New Guinean will resume
Right now in PNG, CI is hard at work perfecting the inane. Big
bucks for giant marine projects dictate that there must be
objectives, outcomes, and performance measures presented slick as
ice on paper. The Papua New Guinean in charge has become
proficient at Microsoft Powerpoint. One wonders that in their
mental haze nurtured by life in the city, they haven’t yet
offered Powerpoint workshops to the villages. I have seen very
little indication that the Papua New Guineans feel any true
ownership in any of the plans being generated. Any expressions
of dissent that have surfaced are looked upon as problems rather
than refreshing breathes of air. Teamwork is paramount, and
people must work together at all costs. Stop complaining.
Dispel those thoughts, they don’t fit into what we’re doing.
Follow the CI policy and rules-they’ve been generated by the top
down for the good of all of us.
It would be obscene to use the word empowerment to describe how
CI is proceeding on the ground these days. Consultation at all
levels is conspicuously poor. Decision making is hardly
participatory when people are informed of the organisation’s
expectations and then cast forth to implement. The process is
never allowed to proceed at the speed that is comfortable to the
target audience. Again and again timetables are imposed from
above and outside, violating fundamental lessons of how to do
things right. Anyone who buys into this idiocy is rewarded,
while those who question it seem to be looked upon by the higher
powers as being troublemakers that ideally should be removed and
should that prove embarrassing should be acknowledged but
One of the big rules at CI-PNG is that only the big boys should
be communicating with the donors. Your role as a Papua New
Guinean is to implement, not be heard, unless you’re telling us
you agree. Above all don’t do anything that will embarrass the
donors, or embarrass us in front of the donors. We need their
money. Remember, there are lots of people in Washington DC that
have mortgages to pay. Office rent is astronomical there. The
money has to come from somewhere.
True empowerment requires leaders who create the conditions that
allow people to grow. Planning for any project that is expected
to succeed must start from the ground up, not the other way
around. There are so many lessons learnt papers on all this it
one wonders why anyone would pretend any differently. But
pretence is rampant at CI-PNG. Does the upper management
actually believe that those below them will become empowered if
they meekly follow enough orders from above? Any astute analysis
of the sinking ship CI-PNG reveals that staff and targets are
not becoming very empowered. Instead of the bells of
empowerment, one hears the racket of squabbling and complaining.
Staff are increasingly reacting to the noise by isolating
themselves and communicating less. It all seems so terribly
opposite of how we would expect NGOs to perform. Whatever
happened to the notion of bottom up planning and implementation
that NGOs are supposed to not only preach, but also practice?
The evidence is scarce indeed at CI-PNG.
The good ship CI-PNG is lurching toward sunken reefs as it
ignores the impossibility of spending huge sums of money wisely
and casts aside attempts to improve an intuitively ineffective
top down management style. If top management shows in everyday
life that they haven’t a clue what participatory really means,
how can CI-PNG possibly believe it can implement a participatory
strategy with its target audiences? After all, that’s what all
the plans say they’re doing. And will do. No, the good
ship CI-PNG is heading towards disaster. It will rip its hull
sooner or later, and rather than call for help and try to patch
the hole, instead, a coverup canvas will be thrown down, to hide
the disaster from oblivious donors. More resources will need to
be devoted towards public relations and and information desk may
have to be created.
It’s so enticing to cast aside all the headaches and challenges
that we confront when we try to do things right, learn from
mistakes of the past, and proceed on the initiative and
timetables of the villagers with whom we work. It’s so so much
easier to throttle full speed ahead, applying imposition and
dictation throughout the project, while labeling the whole thing
involvement. Forget about true participation, just buy the
land. Buy the timber - but in the case of CI-PNG, make sure you
keep the valuation papers secret so that you can underpay the
villagers for their resource. Once the land is bought or the
timber is secured, you don’t have to worry anymore. Anytime
there are problems, just call the police, or maybe even a mobile
squad to make sure that those damned lines drawn on the map in
Washington are being adhered to by the people back in PNG.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What are the international
conservation NGOs teaching us in PNG, one of the few pieces of
real estate left on earth where the indigenous people still
largely control their land and its resources? They are not
empowering the people to take full responsibility for the use or
misuse of their resources. Instead, they are disempowering the
people, by absolving them of the hardest responsibilities.
“There, there, we’ll do it for you,” is the unspoken phrase.
6. Annoyed Person
“If international NGOs want to limit their work within
developing countries to supporting parks and wildlife already
protected and in public ownership, no problems, we’re in full
support. Just stop telling the world you’re doing a significant
thing to stop today’s destruction of biodiversity and natural
habitats because you’re not. If your aim is like Conservation
International’s and The Nature Conservancy’s to buy land or
resource rights in those countries for the lowest possible price
so you can set them aside “for the benefit of the natives”,
call yourself what you really are-a benevolent but paternalistic
colonial landowner. If by chance your goal is actually to
reverse today’s catastrophic trends, please stop pushing aside
the people in your overwhelming rush to hold up the latest animal
conservation icon. People destroy and people conserve but the
last person to understand people and develop effective strategies
for community participation is a Washington conservation
bureaucrat planner or some conservation biologist who is
oblivious to everything butthe flowers he’s watching or his
computer generated landscape ecologies.”
7. ICAD on the Wasi
Once upon a time in the not too distant past an international NGO
decided to do nature conservation in the Wasi river basin. This
was understandable idea. The place was the environmentalist’s
dream. Lots and lots of bush filled with a multitude of flying
and biting things. A diverse bunch of unwashed and scabrous
savages leading traditional lives that they punctuated with
stories and wars to give it some meaning. No industry, no
logging or mining, just a virginal tract of scrub.
Looking at the planet from a distance, curious people might ask
why this area is forested and largely intact compared to the rest
of the joint for which the impartial scientist verdict is
“stuffed”. Is it a mere coincidence that the place has been
bypassed by the modern world? No.
Short and sweet, the place is a disease ridden ditch and the
people unreasonable and nasty. No one ever lived in the Wasi
because they wanted to pass their days savouring the delights of
sago and fish three meals a day, while loosing litres of blood to
the mosquitos. No, the Wasis were refugees thrown out from the
competitive highlands by nastier people who had little land and
didn’t want to share it. Over the eons numerous groups took up
residence in the swamps and lakes of the Wasi all of whom had
only one thing in common - a mutual detestation of each other.
One must ask why the Wasis have not stuffed the place up
themselves? Are they, as some of our NGO friends suspected, the
possessors of native wisdom that has allowed them to live in
harmony with nature for an interminably long time? Unfortunately
not. Like all humans the Wasis would have wrecked the place if
they had got their hands on the technology. As the esteemed
biologist Ralph Bulmer said “If conservation is the conscious
management of resources so that yields are sustained
indefinitely, then there is little evidence of conservation in
New Guinea”. New Guineans, like the overwhelming majority of
humanity, they are primarily concerned with immediate yields of
crops, game, women and now, cash.
The environmental record of the Wasis could be better. They have
converted at least half of the Wasi forests to grassland by
cooking it whenever it has been dry enough to hold a spark. No
botanist would say that grassland is natural. It was created by
human disturbance. Later the Wasi exacerbated the local water
weed problems by covertly seeding their neighbour’s rivers with
the plants (this didn’t bode well for the NGO’s plan to organise
the tribes into weed control teams). They have openly invited
and welcomed any organisation willing to log, clear or mine
despite a clear knowledge of the outcommes. The distressing fact
is the Wasis would have destroyed the place were it not for the
malaria and other parasites that kill most of their kids, sap
their energy and make them mad. In essence, their population has
not been able to get to the level where it can push the resources
to the point of scarcity.
Given that the Wasis have been sitting around the swamps for the
best part of the millennia we must also question why they were
unable to smelt steel, ponder nuclear physics and destroy the
place like we did? Good question. The nasty environment never
gave them a break, their spare time was devoted to hostilities
with their neighbours and the rank wet climate didn’t help with
the storage of knowledge about such things, a vital precursor to
the development of that knowledge into spacecraft and the like.
There is every reason to believe that if left to themselves the
Wasi basin would still be at the same technological level in
another thousand years. You must realise however, they could not
be left to themselves. They had needs and those needs had to be
filled. (At this point we could discuss the origin of the idea of
development as not only a necessity but a moral obligation on the
part of the developed to the developing - but we won’t. I will
assume the reader has given this some thought).
The international NGOs were in a quandary when they thought of
thinking about these things, but because they had money to spend
they decided not to. They wanted to do conservation. What do
you mean by conservation someone asked “Oh we support
biodiversity and all that” so they didn’t know either.
The idea that we should hang onto biodiversity came about as a
queasy sort of feeling that struck the westerners guts when they
finished off most of their biota. As westerners looked upon
their maimed and dying land some had an inclining of their own
mortality and its dependence upon the land from which they came.
They realised a fraction late that the “biodiversity”, the
plants and animals, were actually quite important for the well
being of humans quite aside from their immediate value.
“Biodiversity” is a nice easy word that is hard to define so is
easy to defend. The western conservation effort? They put their
last 10% of bush in parks and hoped like all hell that it would
be enough. But it wasn’t.
Realising that most of the planet’s biodiversity remained in the
third world, or in new-speak “the developing nations”, the
western green movement began to explore ways of coercing the poor
into conservation. First the old game park model was tried,
mainly in Africa, but given a hurl in most places. The people
were rounded up and excluded from fenced “protected areas” and
the wildlife was managed. The parks worked for a while but soon
broke down under pressure from the hungry hordes behind the wire.
Another push came in the form of debt-for-nature swaps in which
the rich lessened the amount the poor owed them if they locked up
their biodiversity and looked after it. “Paper parks” came
into existence when poor nations put circles on maps without
really meaning it. In short nothing seemed to work. So like the
biblical prodigal son who went back to the family farm after
blowing his share, the rich having squandered their biodiversity
saw they must come back and grovel to the poor. Having seen the
rich come past in tourist buses the poor were now sick of being
poor, and said “we don’t want conservation, we want to thrash
our biodiversity so we can be like you!”.
Some bright spark, probably an American, saw the gap between the
horns of this dilemma and announced that it was possible to have
your cake and eat it too. The idea: conservation integrated with
development. It even was given an acronym (ICAD) - one of the
oldest tricks in the book to give a spurious thing unjustified
credibility. ICAD was something that grew from “sustainable
development”, that marvellous term which means many things to as
many people but in reality is quite meaningless. It is the
mantra that allows most to do what they want and feel good about
it. ICAD. Integrated conservation and development. How
ICAD is based on the assumption that if people’s basic needs are
satiated then they will be interested in conservation. This goes
against the experience and history of most of humanity, but we
will ignore that for the moment. In the village the ICAD
practitioner talks of ways to make cash from the bush without
simply flogging it off. He talks about cash from forest products
and sustainability. The locals think cash but don’t usually get
the sustainability spiel. It is a lovely idea; help the natives
along a pretty path to development that doesn’t result in the
destruction of the place. They get developmentand humanity gets
some bush. Remember by “development” we mean “things that can
be bought for cash” including things like schooling and health
services, as well as beer, dope, tinned fish women and shotguns.
Development is not primarily concerned with parameters like
happiness, social cohesion, or fulfilment - westerners know from
experience that if you have enough cash these peripheral needs
are always filled.
(As an aside the ICAD idea seems to satisfy most of the hallmarks
of a religion. It is deemed a process yet cannot be tested or
verified. Debating the ideological basis of ICAD is not
permitted; and the leaders of ICAD always seem to get rich while
preaching piety to the masses.)
The Wasi and our international NGO? Well the international NGO
(let’s call them WWF for the sake of accuracy) was moneyed up to
the tune of a few million given to them by Euro-Nation who wanted
to balance their books, oh, and see some rainforest preserved in
the antipodes. But what was the NGO going to do I hear you ask?
“Sustainable development”. Yes we know that, but seriously,
what was the NGO actually going to do with the millions of kina
on the ground, day by day, to achieve conservation and happiness
on the banks of the Wasi???
One school of thought was that the NGO didn’t have enough money
to actually do either conservation or development. By the time
the staff were employed and paid with travel and living
allowances there wasn’t much cash left over, and that was needed
to pay for fax paper and inter-office memoranda. The Wasis were
just going to have to be satisfied with motivational workshops
aimed at “cultural reinforcement”.
Cultural reinforcement is a nice way of saying “you better get
to like the way you live ‘cause nothing is about to change”. It
was ironic that the NGO actually valued the Wasi’s culture more
than the Wasis did. To the Wasis it was just a way of surviving
until something better came along. The NGO saw it as another
type of diversity that should be preserved so future generations
of savages could tell the same stories and fight the same wars
while future generations of tourists could pay to watch.
Another idea was to develop a resource centre in the middle of
the project area. It would house a good library holding all
sorts of self help development materials. “How to start a
butterfly farm in three easy steps”, “A Beginners guide to
Small scale saw-milling” for instance. A place for quiet study
and idle reflection on the options available to the average Wasi
family. It would also hold cultural artefacts and biological
specimens from the area so the locals could see that others held
their things in high esteem and would conversely look upon their
lot and themselves in a new and warmer light. Some said the
Centre would also have a coffee shop and a sales outlet so the
NGO wouldn’t have to support it for too long. Some said that the
place would be robbed and cooked before it was finished but they
were miserable cynics who had spent too much time in the bush.
There was a proposal to assist the Provincial Government to plan
for the future by providing them with information about their
region. However the Provincial Government had a problem with cash
accountability. Millions of kina arrived every year but it always
left without anyone actually seeing it. The NGO believed that if
given direction and vision the Government would be revitalised,
repent and spend their money wisely. The Government suggested
the NGO could buy them computers to enable them to keep track of
The last and most treasured idea was to set up some model eco-
projects in a few select villages which would then set a shining
sustainable example to the region. Village-based saw-milling was
an obvious choice as it was seen to provide an alternative to the
feared industrial logging. Villagers harvesting their own timber
as less likely to sell the timber rights to the Malaysians - or
so the theory goes. The only difference is with one you get paid
heaps just to sit around, while with the other you get paid a
pittance to work your guts out for ever. You can see why
theMalaysians were popular. The NGO was not prepared to actually
hand over the equipment needed to start a saw-milling facility.
This of course would encourage the Wasis to become free-loaders
waiting for the next project. The Wasis didn’t know the term
“free-loader but they were certainly waiting for the next
project. There also wasn’t enough money for direct assistance
(“We are not a charity you know”). No, the NGO would help the
villagers get to the bank where they could secure a nice loan, to
buy the stuff themselves.
All this ignored the original situation. The Wasis had
unwittingly been excellent conservationists for a long time
simply by dying of malaria and killing each other. The best
thing the international NGO (let’s call them WWF for the sake of
accuracy) could do would be to simply leave the Wasis alone while
doing what they could to deter the nastier industries from
entering the region. If and I mean IF they could bring health,
education and awareness to the villages, only then would there be
a need to talk conservation. In doing Conservation our NGO was
creating the conservation problem they hoped to solve.
IF only it had worked out that way. It didn’t. Several years
later our international NGO (let’s call them WWF for the sake of
accuracy) has successfully burned through a few million dollars
and the Dutch government must be happy indeed. Staff mostly sit
in the office its too hot to go out. Frustrated by the project’s
ineptness, local government still managed to pressure the project
to dish out cargo water supplies and other handouts. The top dog
WWF bureaucrat in Moresby, a cargo thinker of the highest degree,
pushes the project to deliver even more cargo for the people.
Creating lazy, dependent people is obviously the unstated goal.
Still, as long as the money keeps burning and hardwood timber
prices stay low the international NGO can point to all that
forest they’ve saved for the Wasi people.
8. Industrial Logging For Conservation
The Nature Conservancy’s logging intent in Papua New Guinea comes
from information they provided for the internet:
“In Madang TNC and Sustainable Forest Systems (a Nevada based
logging company) have jointly acquired a permit to operate in the
forests of the Josephstaal region. Together with the local people
they will work to provide a sustainable logging program which
will provide the people with money to build schools and services.
Maya Gorrez, is heading up this program and says that ‘the very
unique bio-diversity of the area, as well as SFR's reputation for
good conservation, have allowed us to pursue this project, and
hopefully it will convince the landowners of the benefits of
As usual, it’s hype. Can one ever believe what these green
donkeys say when they promote their projects in developing
The real story is that none of this ever got off the ground.
Even worse, TNC explained that they were involved in a very
successful sustainable logging project in Paraguay so they had
success stories under the belt. This was completely false.
The Nature Conservancy now points to all the government obstacles
they came up against as reason why the whole thing failed. They
don’t tell another part of the story so we will do so. TNC has
earned its membership as a neocolonialist conservation
organization operating in PNG.
“Whereas the Lak experience had emphasized the need to collect
socio-economic information which had led to the community-based
approach… the TNC Bismarck Ramu proposal was back in the mode of
conservationists drawing boundaries on maps.” (Dr. Flip Van
TNC soon realized that the Josephstaal concession area had too
little valuable harvestable timber to support their envisioned
sustainable forestry operation. They cast their eyes upstream to
the Middle Ramu Forestry Management Area, also available for
logging which had more timber and made their project economically
viable. The problem was a PNG NGO called the Bismarck Ramu Group
already was working with communities in that area (that NGO had
begun as a project funded by UNDP, and eventually became an
independent local NGO). While TNC became completely focused on
offering the “sustainable versus nonsustainable” logging choice
for villagers, the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) was discussing
“logging or no logging” options, with the “no logging” options
being without any alternative economic incentives or promises.
What did village communities began choosing in the Middle Ramu
Forestry Management Area? They decided they wanted no logging at
all sustainable or not.
Is not that the best option to protect forests? TNC did not see
it that way. If they couldn’t secure the Middle Ramu concession,
then their entire project would collapse. A tug-of-war
developed, with TNC promoting logging while BRG continued their
community development process. The communities still decided they
didn’t want any form of logging.
The logger TNC had lost despite their best efforts to convince
villagers to cut down their trees. The logging project never got
off the ground, and the Middle Ramu area today remains unlogged.
That has not stopped TNC from moving to nearby territory in the
area and trying something else this time. The Josephstaal
communities were dropped like a hot potato they are of no
importance to TNC anymore.
9. Another TNC Attempt At Humour
TNC uses many high priced expatriate consultants as needed to
accomplish tasks that Papua New Guineans cannot possibly do.
Recently TNC drafted a new law that promotes conservation in
collaboration with the local level Almami government in Madang
Province. Local level government is made up of local leaders
that operate in a more informal government settting below the
district level. The entire text of the draft law is much too
long to reproduce but a few excerpts will give the overall
flavour. Note that this draft was the first one offered for
public consumption, there is no alternative more simple version
available to local people nor any version written in pidgin or
local language. Within the area in which this Local Level
Government operates, English is never more than a second
language, and the majority would not be functionally literate in
English. Leaders within the Local Level Government would have a
higher level of formal education but English would still be their
“ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION LAW 2002
Being an Act to provide for the safeguarding of the environment
and the flora and fauna in the Almami Rural Local Level
Government area in reinforcing the national laws on the
environment as permitted by Section 44 (1) (p), (s) and (z) of
the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-Level
Governments and Section 25 of the Local-level Governments
MADE by the Almami Rural Local-Level Government to come into
operation in accordance with Section 141 of the Organic Law on
Provincial Governments and Local-Level Governments.”
The objectives of this Act are -
(a) to protect the environment while allowing for compatible
economic development in a way that improves the quality of life
and maintains the ecological processes on which life depends;
(b) to sustain the potential of natural and physical resources to
meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations, and
safeguard the life-supporting capacity of air, water, land and
(c) to ensure that proper weight is given to both the long-term
and short-term social, economic, environmental and equity
considerations in deciding all matters relating to environmental
management, protection, restoration and enhancement; and
(d) to avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse effects of
activities on the environment by regulating in an integrated,
cost-effective and systematic manner, activities and substances
that cause environmental harm; and
(e) to regulate activities which may have a harmful effect on the
environment in an open and transparent manner and ensure that
consultation occurs in relation to decisions under this Act with
persons and bodies who are likely to be affected by them; and
(f) to provide a means for carrying into effect obligations under
any international treaty or convention relating to the
environment to which Papua New Guinea is a party.”
“13. ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION AREAS
The Monitoring Committee shall, as soon as practicable after the
end of each year and before the end of March in the following
year, furnish to the President of the Local-level Government a
report on its operations during that year.
PART 3 - TAKING AND KILLING OF FAUNA
14. RESTRICTION ON COLLECTING OF FLORA AND TAKING, AND KILLING OF
(1) Subject to Subsection (5) a person, other than a person who
has customary rights to collect flora and take or kill fauna in a
environment and conservation area, shall not collect flora or
take or kill fauna in the Area.“
“16. PROHIBITION ON LIGHTING OF FIRES
A person shall not light a fire in the Area other than in
accordance with the management plan of the Area.
17. PROHIBITION ON DISPOSAL OF REFUSE, ETC
A person shall not dispose of any refuse, litter or garbage in or
into the Area.
18. PROHIBITION OF CAMPING
A person shall camp only in designated places as specified in the
management plan of the Area.”
One reader of the entire document had a first impression: “This
must be some kind of joke!” A joke indeed, for never in the
history of PNG has such a document been created, supposedly for
and by local landowners. Anyone who has spent anytime in PNG, and
read those last sections quoted above, is in danger of exploding
in a fit of hysteria. Those international NGOs should not
complain about the nontransparent and devious documents that
loggers push in front of villagers noses when they engage in the
same practice. However, it is a good way to find work for high
priced expatriate consultants to carry out.
10. WWF Successful Sustainable Eco-Forestry In Papua New Guinea
The Giant Panda WWF does a fine job of writing up its projects
for the internet so that many thousands can read the good news.
We found their description of what they were doing in the Gulf
Province, near the settlement of Kikori. It sounds like a really
wonderful activity, very beneficial to the local people, and a
great contribution to conservation of tropical forests as you can
read for yourself:
“Eco-forestry (Kikori Integrated Conservation and Development
Project, Papua New Guinea)
The project is promoting ecologically and socially sensitive,
community-based forestry enterprises with the aim of achieving
independent certification. This is known as Forestry Stewardship
Council (FSC) <http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/forests3.htm>
certification. WWF has established an eco-forestry umbrella
company, Kikori Pacific, which acts as a marketing agent and
provides training for community-based eco-forestry groups in the
Lower Kikori area.
Kikori Pacific is buying, milling, and selling timber on a
sustainable basis and continues to export timber to an
international buyer in Australia. Kikori Pacific is working with
18 clans and more than 120 landowners. Inventory work and clan
boundaries are well established and an increasing number of
forest resource owners are requesting the assistance of Kikori
Pacific. Among the local landowner companies working with Kikori
Pacific, the most successful is Iviri Timbers. Iviri Timbers
initially operated with a mill they had borrowed from WWF and
with the money they generated, they bought their own mill.
Kikori Pacific and WWF are also working with the New York
Botanical Gardens to do post-harvest assessments and a forest
inventory. WWF’s biodiversity monitoring of Kikori ecoforestry
has shown that there has been minimal environmental impact in
harvested areas. Very few trees are cut per hectare, logs are
floated on waterways, no roads are constructed and no heavy
machinery is operated.”
The above information is remaining on the web site of WWF South
Pacific (Fiji) Office at www.wwfpacific.org.fj/kikori.htm
<http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/kikori.htm., although maybe it will
be soon be removed now that we call attention to it.
After speaking to the WWF Country Director and politely asking
some questions in not too direct a fashion, we were sorry to see
that a few pieces of information were accidentally left out of
this description. Perhaps it was in a moment of forgetfulness.
To help out this informative story which you can read today on
the internet, we would now like to add several pieces of recent
and verified information that has come from the WWF staff in
Papua New Guinea:
* Kikori Pacific offices and operations are now completely closed
* The Australian manager left behind heavy debt to a local
company when he shut the doors.
* WWF, which in one breathe tells us that Kikori Pacific is
theirs and their initiative, in more recent panting has distanced
itself from the company. Yet, most recently WWF is reported to
be arranging to settle the outstanding debt, probably purely out
of kindness and not because there is any connection.
* The controversial mangrove areas that Kikori Pacific was buying
logs from had not been touched by the large Malaysian logging
company operating in the area, even though that company is
cutting everywhere in the vicinity. We have confirmed that the
Malaysians were leaving these areas alone was because the logs
came out of swampy ground. That’s why it’s called mangrove
swamp. It seems that the WWF project was an alternative to
villagers to selling their timber to the Malaysian company TFI
but a supplement. It gave local people the chance to log out the
last, previously untouchable patches of forest.
* There is no evidence that Kikori Pacific or WWF has achieved
any forest conservation where the loggers have interests.
* WWF has failed at getting hardly any local clans not to sign
with the TFI loggers even though WWF was present and spending
several million US dollars to help the people of this area.
* The first manager of Kikori Pacific came straight from the WWF-
USA building in Washington an individual Hank Cauley. He paid
himself very handsomely in salary and expenses even though the
company was not making profit. This follows the common American
* Mainly Ivir Timber sawmilling operation was selling regularly
to Kikori Pacific. Although mentioned as being community owned,
reports are stronger that it is run by a local strongarm
businessman who pockets most money and shares little with his
* Even though local villagers would make more money sawing their
own timber, Kikori Pacific encouraged selling round logs. This
let Kikori Pacific earn more money from that timber, a foremost
consideration for any profit-making company that puts people in
We were glad to be able to play a role to help fill in those well
known but overlooked details on WWF’s highly successful and
beneficial eco-forestry project in Papua New Guinea. Maybe WWF
would like to revise their web site and include the above factual
When a reporter brought up the mangrove logging issue to a WWF
USA director, Dr Jared Diamond in 2000, we can credit a lack of
sleep for Dr Diamond’s truthful response. When asked if WWF
should be doing such things as illegal mangrove logging in Papua
New Guinea, he told a reporter that regardless of whether it is
illegal "if it can be done on a sustainable basis then by all
means do it". Naturally, Dr Diamond took back his words as soon
as he woke up, and many layers of WWF replies followed to cover
up Dr Diamond’s first words.
WWF handling of the mangrove logging scandal in Papua New Guinea
has been so outstanding that it received an award, being named
one of the “Issued Without Good Sense (IWOGS) Medal of Dishonor
Organization” on the internet (www.wwwco.com/~dda/iwogorgs.php
<http://www.wwwco.com/~dda/iwogorgs.php>). WWF received this
honor “for their handling of an eco-forestry project they run in
Papua New Guinea.”
Although as we read in the WWF pages that the Kikori Pacific
project is of rousing success, after the mangrove scandal became
widely known, Kikori Pacific replied to the press in response to
the controversy following the revelations that it would slowly
phase out its logging operations in PNG. Sometimes this is
another way of saying that the company would leave town quickly
before further embarrassments surfaced.
An article by David Orr Jr published by the organization
Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org <http://www.counterpunch.org>)
on the internet, has taken WWF statements such as that the
original story was “so grossly misleading and distorted as to
represent sloppy journalism at its worse,” and provided enough
information to make us now understand that when WWF makes such
complaints it probably means that another journalist has happened
on to the truth.
Such statements in these modern times must lead one to be very
suspect of what might be going on behind the scenes. However in
the case of the highly successful Kikori Pacific eco-forestry
project, we are happy to report that absolutely nothing is going
on behind the scenes today. This highly successful operation (as
reported by WWF) is no more, leaving only a cheerful sign in the
village of Kikori as its memorial.
We hope to help WWF further in the future and provide many
missing details to their press releases and web sites. We send
our warmest greetings to the Giant Panda.
11. Creating New Partnerships
WWF PNG has always seen the importance of working well not only
with people in the community, but government as well and has
recently achieved new standards of excellence in a developing
In recent years, Dr Wari Iamo, an anthropologist by profession
who seems to know little about conservation, yet is the managing
Secretary for the Office of Environment and Conservation, has
become well known to the public in PNG. This is not so much
through his speeches and activities in conservation but through
occasional articles in the newspapers that have reported on
various strange uses of funds or apparent deals under the table
which involve him. While some of the worst allegations have now
been confirmed by the PNG Ombudsman in a report highly critical
of Dr Iamo and recommending his termination, Dr Iamo denies
everything and remains the top conservation government officer in
the country. Allegations of kickbacks for environmental impact
assessments, logging permit approvals, mis-use of funds for a
global warming program, and other strange doings are small
footnotes in Dr Iamo’s street CV.
However, Dr Wari Iamo is of some importance to WWF because he
severely criticized the mangrove logging and commissioned a
government investigation into the practice. The WWF PNG offices
are former OEC offices for which they pay no rent. WWF requires
Dr Iamo’s services for various ceremonies and rubberstamps for
some WWF activities. It is in WWF’s best interest to support an
official of even dubious character and tarnished reputation.
Conversely it is in Dr Iamo’s interest to put WWF in a position
where Dr Iamo can put pressure on WWF to do his bidding. This
kind of relationship between corrupt official and international
NGO can be described as a synergistic or mutalistic partnership.
Recently WWF needed Dr Iamo’s support for its Ecoregion office in
Madang, an interesting place full of little understood words and
concepts available to be taught to villagers. Quite by accident,
Dr Iamo was called by WWF to accept a special award on behalf of
PNG. This happens to be WWF’s highest award, the "Earth
Certificate” of its "Gift to the Earth" programme. PNG was
awarded this prize for efforts to protect important and
threatened wetlands, although the actual efforts being awarded
might be undermined by light analysis. It was essential that a
PNG government conservation representative be present to accept
Dr Iamo enjoys overseas travel, despite a long standing financial
crunch in the government, and recently was in the newspapers
again for the disaster that befell him on the way to an important
South African conference where he was to make a presentation.
For reasons completely beyond his control, he became stranded in
Singapore where he managed to salvage the disaster by going on an
expensive shopping spree, documented later by immigration
officials inspecting Dr Iamo’s baggage. The extensive travel
allowance he brought for his South Africa expenses, was, of
course, not returned. Despite many efforts, he was unable to
claim a seat on any of the many planes headed for Africa, so that
he might attend at least the closing ceremonies.
WWF has been able to accommodate Dr Iamo’s travel itch by paying
his way to Bali, Indonesia to accept the prestigious WWF award.
Although during my trip to Bali, the biodiversity rich forests in
the area escaped me, it was fitting that WWF meet in such a
location and bring its award recipients to sample the Bali
wildlife first hand.
I believe a good time was had by all and would like to take this
opportunity to offer my personal salute to WWF PNG and Dr Wari
Iamo for forming such a fruitful relationship.
12. WWF Hidden Agenda
Land is life to Papua New Guineans and the country’s unique laws
protecting customary ownership has had resource and land
exploiters searching for underhanded ways to take the resources
without technically taking the land. Land mobilization has
become the cry of government and big business to develop the
mechanisms necessary to wrest control of PNG’s resources from the
customary landowners. WWF follows the sneakiness of the foreign
conservation NGOs in general in PNG with deception and lies, as
can be seen in the leaked memo discussed in this recent article
Papua New Guinea Groups Split with WWF Over Forests
By Bob Burton
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, April 1, 2003 (ENS) - Protests
from five Papua New Guinea environmental and legal groups have
prompted the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to reconsider
support for the controversial land mobilization policies of the
World Bank and a proposed high level forest summit on forest
A leaked WWF South Pacific proposal revealed the organization
wanted World Bank funding for a proposed forest summit aimed at
building support for eco-forestry and better forest management in
PNG, the Solomon Islands and the Indonesian province of Papua,
but intended to keep the source of the funding secret.
The eight page memo proposed seeking funding from the World
Bank’s Forests of Life program, which was jointly established
with WWF five years ago. However, WWF proposed that the role of
the World Bank referred to by the acronym ‘WB’ should be
“The WB alliance logo or name be kept out completed [sic] from
the communication and other media that is released by WWF offices
both in Papua, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands,” the memo
13. Maybe Someone Should Consult The Natives
The only Papua New Guineans working for WWF, CI and TNC who still
think they’re in charge are either puppets or fools. Another
leaked email showing hidden agendas:
From: Rodney Taylor
Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 8:49 PM
To: Biringer, Jennifer
Subject: Re: additional funding for USAID Indonesia project
We had always imagined that the PG model would extend to Papua in
future years. We are also extending the forest conversion
initiative to Papua and plan to do HCVF mapping, partnerships
with oil palm companies to develop BMPs etc. Also DIFID will fund
WWF Indonesia to do forestry stuff in both the Birdshead and
Lorentz From the PNG side the Ekofrestri forum has been involved
in some missions to Papua to see if their approach could be
extended to the Papua side of the border. The Ekoforestri forum
have also done a lengthy feasibility study for a certification
extension service. If prospects are good we could develop a
simple concept for a Papua Leg to the Alliance - essentially
extending the PG membership there (like Java teak part of current
proposal) and some dialogue with investors etc (like current Riau
leg of the project). We may be able to indirectly fund PNG
activities under the guise of amplifying the Ekoforestri Forum by
enlisting their help to run a smallholder extension and
certificatiojn service in Papua and/or supporting the proposed
New Guinea summit.
These are quick thoughts and I would need to consult closely with
WWF Indonesia and WWF South Pacific to develop them further.
"Biringer, Jennifer" jennifer.biringer@WWFUS.ORG
<mailto:jennifer.biringer@WWFUS.ORG> 02/07 6:54 AM
Nigel gave me updates on the interview with Marky, Debby and Fred
from USAID during the week.
Essentially, it looks like we are automatically set for 2 and 3
year funding without having to submit any new proposals. They
aren't sure exactly what we will need to turn in, but perhaps
just the regular reports will be sufficient. They'll get back to
us on this. No new timeline as of yet.
There is a possibility for additional funding (amazing the change
a week makes!). However there would need to be a new component -
either geographically or a new partner, etc. One interesting
possibility just came my way in the form of a colleague here who
mentioned that Adam Tomasek (point person here for Papua/PNG) is
looking for funding on community certification projects there.
Apparently there is no restricted funding or bilateral funding
going there at the moment so he is keen to find something.
A new proposal would need to be prepared, as an addendum to our
project. And I'm assuming Adam would be willing to undertake this
(though I haven't spoken with him yet). What are your thoughts?
Might this be a nice fit to our project given that Papua/PNG is
where deforestation trends are shifting? Note GDA funds aren't to
be used in PNG, though if we could prove transboundary
issues/solutions then this might work with Papua as the grounding
We'd need to get word to Nigel by Feb. 17th.
14. PNG Government Sellout To Foreigners
The PNG Office in Washington DC has a web site and the page of
interest is: www.pngembassy.org/frenviro.htm. This web page
shows clearly how these international NGOs push their foots into
the door. Quote: “In response to international and local outcry
many conservation groups and non- governmental organizations have
begun to move into PNG to help with a multitude of issues. It is
very hard to fully understand or appreciate the impact these
organizations are having on PNG, but one thing is certain, it
would be difficult in this day and age for countries in similar
standing with PNG to do without them.”
Of the 8 NGOs mentioned on this page, only 4 are based only in
PNG and truly local NGOs. Three of these local NGOs barely get
their name mentioned and only because of their connections to
helping out foreign NGOs with their activities.
The most PNG of all these NGOS, East New Britain Sosel Eksen
Komiti is the only NGO mentioned where the writing is not in bold
type. Greenpeace activities in Collingwood Bay, Oro Province get
quite a lot of space. But no mention at all is made of the PNG
NGO that is doing 99% of this work in Collingwood Bay. It is
known as Conservation Melanesia. Greenpeace activities get 100%
Out of 1,993 words in this Papua New Guinean web page talking
about NGO activities, 1,783 (90%) refer only to the foreign NGOs
and their work. The only local NGO to get much mention, Pacific
Heritage Foundation is only mentioned here in detail because of a
project where they got American funding through a program
operated out of WWF offices. There is a link on that discussion
to reach that American program which gave the funding.
This PNG government web page is an insult and sell out to all
Papua New Guineans. It is not a web page to help PNG but instead
exploits PNG and its wildlife to help out these foreign NGOs.
The PNG Embassy seems to have completely sold out to the
foreigners in an attempt to get something for nothing in terms of
a web site.
This PNG government web page ends with a final quote that shows
the colonialism nature of the writers: “With the pressures to
industrialize and modernize many developing nations like Papua
New Guinea are faced with an identity crisis. It is true,
however, that organizations like the ones here can help to
relieve this pressure.” Point being that Papua New Guineans are
in very desperate need of these foreign NGOs to help out.
It is said that the PNG Embassy was offered by someone associated
with one of the foreign NGOs to write all this up for them.
Papua New Guineans did not write this and it is on an official
PNG government web page. What a very sorrowful sight!
15. Natural Development of Indigenous Organisations Is Being
Outside influence is destructively affecting the natural way
indigenous organizations have developed.
The concern is that this process will cause long lasting if not
permanent damage to the development of more lasting indigenous
Most international bodies probably have little comprehension of
these damaging effects.
The donors do not seem to see the destruction their funding of
the expansion of international nongovernmental organizations is
having on the long term development of indigenous ones.
In Papua New Guinea the conservation NGOs are by far the biggest
contributors to this destructive process.
I explain for their benefit why this issue is so important.
Origin of Sustainable, Indigenous NGOs
In Australia and elsewhere in countries the world looks at today
as being economically developed, the first NGOs began as small
These included church and social groups, sewing clubs, local
irrigation districts, school support organizations, etc. These
are equivalent to what we now call community NGOs.
Rarely was there any outside involvement in the creation,
support, planning, or activities of these groups. No outside
politician challenged the communities to create those groups as a
recipient for assistance.
Instead, the ideas for the group came from the community. The
organization came into existence because of a bottleneck faced by
the community. The community either faced a problem or they felt
the lack of something in their lives.
This problem caused hardship and that hardship motivated people
to get together. They were motivated to talk about doing
something to solve the problem they were facing.
Part of their solution was to organize themselves. No one
organized them or challenged them to organize themselves. The
idea came from within them.
If they saw an organization as a logical piece of the overall
strategy to solve their problems, they started an organization.
When an organization was formed it tended to consist of people
informally meeting and little more. Giving the group a name was
only important if it gave the people something to unify around.
Little symbolism beyond that was invented for these early
Those early organizations were not registered. Often they had no
by-laws or constitution, no policy and procedures manual,
sometimes no officers. No proposals or progress reports, nor
planning documents. People spoke to each other to educate and
communicate and plan.
This describes the natural process of developing an indigenous
NGO. The organization is started by the people themselves in
response to a pressing problem. They develop what you need to
develop to solve the problem and nothing more. They do not
follow the guidelines, procedures or recommendations of an
outside body although they may solicit outside ideas and pick and
choose from that which is provided.
Because of this process, everyone in the community knew the
purpose of the organization and how the organization was
attempting to address the problem. No workshops were needed to
explain things because the whole idea that came out of early
These original community groups were often short of resources.
When this shortage directly and seriously affected the abilities
of that organization to function, it created a motivation and
drive within the local people to be innovative in finding
solutions to this shortage. Struggle and hardship built
When infrastructure was created, that hardship and 100% community
involvement created automatic motivation to look after whatever
was created. The community was wholly responsible for
sustainment or maintenance of any new developments or activities.
Infrastructure was maintained automatically because the process
by which it was created was a natural one.
When success came to the community, the success was genuinely
100% theirs. Accordingly they could rejoice. That success and
resulting pride built greater confidence to take on larger
Greater challenges required more complex growth and development,
one step at a time. But time was there for people to think
about, plan and master these new complexities. Thus, failure
rates were minimized. Fewer failures led to more confidence and
Governments grew in much the same way. Local groups to build
local toll roads or ferries later developed into departments of
transportation. Small general stores remained that way for
generations, and only as capacity grew did they grow and build
branch stores and grow into corporations. In all cases, the
process was natural and not pushed along or assisted by outside
In the city environments back then, the same natural process
occurred. Local city groups and clubs were founded only in
response to problems, issues, and hardships serious enough that
it motivated people to come together. “Club” would be the best
word to describe these sustainable, motivated, functional and
achieving NGOs. Clubs exist for a purpose, they stay simple in
structure, and they are nearly always created by local people
themselves. They last and are effective because they developed
Destructive Assistance to Developing Countries Like PNG
The examples given in the last section tell the story of how very
successful and sustainable organisations came about.
Starting as local groups in rural areas or cities, they gradually
became functional on a larger scale. They were ruled completely
from within the country.
People in the economically developed countries of today forget
their own origins. They have come to overlook the lasting power
of this kind of slow and steady development that was critical to
their own success.
This recipe for success so responsible for great progress in
developed countries is not being provided in developing
Instead, destructive mechanisms and types of assistance of the
opposite kind are being given.
Destructive devices include offering money and other gifts to
village groups. That encourages local groups to form for the
main purpose of receiving assistance. Reasons for forming the
group are often invented and not based on real problems. If it
had been a real problem, the group probably would have existed
Even a contribution in kind demand does not erase the destructive
influence of these gifts on village initiative. Any
infrastructure created through those means is usually not
maintained because of the damage done to the local initiative.
Consider how many of the first so called PNG NGOs came about in
the country. They began through heavy expat involvement. These
organisations were not the idea of Papua New Guineans.
When the international NGOs set up shop, this compounded and
expanded a process that is not natural and has not been known to
produce lasting results, except for permanent dependencies.
The idea for local offices of international NGOs did not come
from a struggling group from within PNG.
In most cases, these organizations came to PNG ready with ideas,
plans, and policies.
They bought their way into acceptability with promises of
The result is like an outside company building a new facility
inside a place where they have never been before. Papua New
Guineans have so far not evidenced a strong driving sense of
ownership in these country offices. Working for these NGOs is
like working for Steamships. No number of reading materials or
meetings can provide the same sense of ownership for Papua New
Guineans as those in today’s economically developed countries
came to feel when they were forced to create everything from
Outside donors and NGOs press PNG groups to take on issues that
are more an idea inside a foreign brain than inside a Papua New
This violates the natural way that successful indigenous
organizations had begun in today’s economically developed
Outside donors institutionalize procedures and policy before the
NGO has faced the bottleneck itself and become motivated to find
its own workable and lasting solutions.
Ideas are suggested first from outside before the group has seen
the need enough to ask first. This results in the ideas become
impositions. Institutions become hollow with the outside ideas
and imposed rules and policies not being enforced or followed
within the organisation.
When outside NGOs and other aid agencies fund local groups so
they can pay their staff with competitive salaries, it attracts
people who are interested more in money than in sacrifice.
That is an artificial process that does not at all replicate the
way that successful organizations developed inside today’s
economically developed countries.
When local NGOs have to write plans and proposals in response to
the rules of outside donors, suddenly their activities are driven
more by what they think will be funded and less by what they once
saw as the problems that created their need for working within an
This is a list of only a few of the processes being used by the
international conservation NGOs in PNG.
None of it is following what had worked in their own countries,
when their countries were at PNG’s stage of development.
Instead, the main planning and thinking is done already by
outsiders, and local people are only called upon to rubberstamp
or slightly modify what has already been planned for them.
People in PNG like anywhere else can accept and adopt to that
situation successfully. They can learn to work as told, and
receive paycheques in return. From many vantage points,
everything seems to be working well.
But the organizations they work for are artificial and did not
develop inside Papua New Guinea in a natural way. Outside
reason, outside ideas, and outside assistance creates a
dependency on outside.
Out of that little real commitment or involvement in working for
these groups can be seen in most of the staff. They have learned
to repeat the right words on command. Examining more closely
their sacrifice and dedication to the organization suggests a
People point to the existence of these international NGOs in PNG
and say how happy they are that they are helping the country.
But look closely and very little in PNG society is changing. The
problems are getting worse not better. It is almost impossible
to see anything that one of these NGOs has done which has really
got people thinking and turning things around. Their impact is
so slight as to be unnoticeable and yet the money spent funding
their staff and activities is in the millions.
The kind of support we get from outside to assist the development
of PNG NGOs is destructive. It discourages sustainable, slow
growth while encouraging fast change and growth that is too fast.
This leads to failure and collapse, discouragement, loss of
confidence and pride, and all other qualities so necessary for
However the local offices of the international NGOs will survive
because they are created on a foundation of complete dependency.
Any indications of independence are token.
The moment a few people try to get together today in PNG to form
a group and volunteer their efforts, immediately someone else
will call them stupid for not learning how to write grants or get
money from government, AUSAID or other donors. The
international NGOs encourage this way of thinking.
A community that tries to save its own money to build its own
water supply is made fun of by the next door community that found
they could get money to buy their water supply for no work at all
from AUSAID Community Development Scheme.
The international NGOs are promoting these kinds of destructive
thinking. They encourage people to sacrifice as little as
possible in order to get something for nothing from outside.
They encourage more of the following:
Youth form sports groups and youth clubs today in PNG foremost to
Ask people to volunteer and often they will laugh or call you
stupid. They say why should anyone volunteer and do
environmental awareness like a poor one. Instead you can work
for CI or WWF and get paid. This really gets discouraging. It
makes you want to give up if you believe in something and just
get a job like your friends and work for the money.
These are examples of how the international conservation NGOs are
destroying PNG. None of this follows how successful NGOs came
about in developed countries or best practices on how local
people have been able to solve their own problems most
Those who give foreign aid to PNG as well as international NGOs
that have put offices here are contributing to this problem and
making it worse. They are destroying the efforts of those who
want to follow what worked in the developed countries, starting
very slow and simple, and responding to an immediate problem
Maybe there are a few exceptions to that rule. They are
exceptions. The general rule about these NGOs is that they are
having a destructive influence on the development of our country.
16. How To Hoodwink The Donors. Lessons from the field
The ludicrously of the relationship the green imperialists have
nurtured with the big donors is highlighted whenever a donor rep
comes to PNG to see what’s going on. It’s no challenge at all to
keep them in the dark and for the benefit of those little PNG
NGOs that remain, we’d like to provide instructions on how to do
it. By the way, make sure your staff doesn’t snicker in front of
the donors as they see the comedy unfold. This is serious stuff!
When the donor rep arrives, begin with an introduction meeting.
Make sure that any troublemakers aren’t invited or are strongly
encouraged to keep their trap shut. If the donor rep starts
asking too many questions, cut the meeting short. Be sure the
office walls have lots of pretty posters on the wall to impress.
Or cover the walls with pictures of happy villagers dancing
through the forest as they practice conservation.
Don’t forget the big map that shows all the conservation that has
been achieved either, you’ll need to refer back to that during
the helicopter ride. After that appetizer, the main course is
the donor rep’s short visit to the village (heaven forbid that
they would have to stay overnight). It’s important to spend more
time flying over the forest than to talk substantively with
anyone on the ground. Make sure a minder always accompanies the
donor rep. It needs to be someone gifted at putting a “spin”
deemed necessary, and arrange beforehand for a dance and a gift.
The village spivs who managed to lock into the project long ago
for whatever they can milk out of it - big projects always
attract spivs like flies to cows - will happily put on whatever
show is necessary, whipping into shape any sullen bretheran. The
donors will never know what’s going on behind the scenes, and
besides, they’re probably mostly worried about getting good photo
ops. If any donor rep has the audacity to ask questions of the
villagers, make sure the people are prepared.
It’s not necessary for villagers to be able to converse
intelligently about the wise use of their resources. All they
have to do is be able to speak a few impressive phrases: “WWF
has been wonderful to us” “we want to look after our wildlife”
“if we only had jobs, we would save even more forests” and “we
hate the loggers”.
By the time the visit is over, the putrid smell of deception and
tomfoolery would make any ethical person gag. Donors such as
UNDP, The Moore Foundation, and AUS AID must know this con game
by now. So why do they continue to blindly shovel money down
these conservation black holes thus creating a institution of
thinking that this is the only way to do conservation?
Will the big donors ever learn to critically question and analyse
the snowjob they’re given by the big boy conservation groups
instead of radiating the ever-present “hear no evil, see no
evil, speak no evil” policy?
My view of what happens in PNG follows.
The foundations give money for a conservation project
The NGO spends the money but nothing comes out of it
The NGO covers up the waste by saying they accomplished a lot
The foundation believes and gives more money to them
The NGO wastes it again and keeps trying to cover up
Finally the foundation finds out their money was wasted
People working for the foundation get discouraged and sad about
what they see
They try to find another NGO that won’t waste but they don’t have
much time to look
They must get rid of their money quickly and write their
They find the best they can in a short time and support that new
Most of their money is wasted again but maybe now they find an
uncommon success story and focus on that one to compliment
themselves on money well spent
Sometimes the success story is also a failure just that the facts
were covered up better
It is like lotto game to these foundations. There are very few
winners but the foundations become blind to what is going around
Instead they keep talking only about what they think are success
This blindness encourages the losers to pretend themselves to be
more like the few winners.
It is blindness because these foundations do not really
understand themselves how it all works.
NGO will do whatever it has to do and dance the dance to get the
Maybe they do not understand or maybe they do not want to
Doing things slowly and grassroots way is the only way to make a
18. More Productive Alternatives (If The Donors Cared)
Support is still needed for conservation activities in PNG!
Donors can support conservation and development initiatives in
Papua New Guinea in positive ways.
Stop supporting a model and activity that has already repeatedly
failed because that makes your assistance destructive instead of
being constructive. Suspicion is growing that many major donors
don’t care or are unmotivated to change their own outlook in ways
that will bring improvement.
Most if not all who have contributed to this package of essays do
want to be constructive. Do not blame them for tearing their
hair out at the continued, apparent blindness of the donors, as
well as the stubbornness of the international NGOs operating in
PNG to remain permanent colonialists.
There are many good areas where donors could burn through big
money quickly which doesn’t involve so much waste and overhead,
and actually might achieve something lasting. A few examples
are thrown out for consideration and debate that have been
gathered by the collaborators.
-promote open society initiatives that can effectively spread
information throughout PNG society on conservation and
development issues. Support whatever will significantly
increase access and availability of information and transparency
in PNG. These are basic needs that if addressed can make many
obstacles to conservation in a developing country such as PNG
fall away. If they are not dealt with conservation will never be
genuinely be achieved in PNG.
-support work that directly addresses unequal power relationships
that result from international market incorporation. Is not this
the main threat to communities and their environment in PNG
instead of villager lack of education? Apart from Greenpeace,
what international NGO has ever tried to put most of its
resources into education programmes that can counteract the
pillage of forest and marine resources by foreign interests? In
some cases their policies prevent them from ever taking on this
role. In that case, they do not belong in PNG because they will
only continue to waste money on sidelines and ignore the core
-support education initiatives that focus on bottom line issues
affecting PNG’s resources (overpopulation, etc.), rather than
community conservation projects that degenerate into cargo
-support getting out extensive information on how destructive
certain land uses (mining, nonsustainable logging, oil palm etc)
have affected PNG biodiversity and natural resources. Only after
that is proven effective should donors support compromisers such
as WWF who want to find ways to make these destructive activities
less destructive, or bad behaving operations into better behaving
ones. You may be surprised
- many clans may decide they don’t want any of these activities,
whether they’re more destructive or less so, period. They’re not
interested once they hear all the pros and cons. How local
communities respond depend greatly on how information was
provided to them and what sense of respect they feel the
providers really have for the local communities. Any
multinational conservation NGO that is not able to take on this
crucial activity should not even be operating in PNG.
-only support expat salaries and consultancies if directly
involved in training. Not just 1 workshop either. Extended
-find good resource people with proven achievement in stimulating
good people throughout PNG, and support ways where their
activities and style can be promoted as national role models.
Start by finding Papua New Guineans who have voluntarily worked
with communities on their own to achieve good things, without
seeking attention and status, or affiliations with bigger groups.
Don’t even bother looking in most NGOs, international and
indigenous, to find such people. That would be the last place to
-support programs on ‘non sexy’ phenomena that are severely
damaging PNG’s biological diversity. Certain invasive alien
species are spreading unimpeded in parts of PNG. Expanding
deforestation caused by fire and gardening is a major problem in
certain areas, and the population growth rate
-get more books into PNG’s libraries. Get more resource
materials into the hands of teachers and let those educators
create the educational materials they need. Focus mainly on
getting them facts and figures of relevance.
-challenge Papua New Guinean minds to think and develop their own
solutions, instead of nurturing, supporting, leading, or pushing
that intelligence as if they were babies. Papua New Guineans who
become motivated enough to see different conservation issues as a
concern will be motivated enough to form their own groups, find
their own resources, etc., just like people in other parts of the
world have done. They do not need any international NGOs except
as a source of challenging and thought provoking information.
-instead of supporting puppet operation offices controlled from
outside PNG, support NGOs that are not an arm of any foreign
group or have mostly foreigners as directors. Work with these
indigenous groups closely, possibly for a long time. Make them
accountable and carefully monitor use of funds. Your support
role may be strong, particularly in management, that sometimes it
will be resented. Listen to their good arguments and modify the
approach as necessary, but don’t accept mis-use of money or
mismanagement. If you support those local organisations
effectively and for a nurturing period of time, you will make a
major difference. Your assistance as a donor will contribute to
a much overdue and long needed building of capacity of the very
groups that are most likely to make the real changes in PNG
society that lead to more sustainable use of natural resources.
These groups are not the puppet arms of the multinational
-support local NGO initiatives that address issues. Don’t worry
about whether their techniques fit your objectives. Worry more
about overlap of their objectives with yours. Evaluate whether
that NGO has the capacity to carry out those particular
strategies and techniques, or has found ways to build its
capacity to do so. Look around to see if the strategy to be
utilized has worked elsewhere, or not worked. Share with the NGO
information you have access to that can help them plan. Be a true
partner with them and provide information but after they have
considered all information let them decide what strategy is best
to address the issue.
-is Papua New Guinea better off with a handful of paid national
professional conservationists, or a legion of thousands of Papua
New Guineans who do conservation as a part-time, voluntary
activity? If you want the last kind of person, stop creating and
paying more of the former through your donor support! Nearly
everything that people are being paid to do (and very
inefficiently) right now in the upper middle class staffed
offices of these multinational conservation organisations could
be done by volunteers, who are more motivated and more efficient.
They will need some support (e.g., transportation) but not too
much and do not destroy their motivation by spoiling them.
Encourage and nurture them to find more like themselves and
create their own institutions. The government’s National
Volunteer Service is evidence that there are more willing Papua
New Guinean volunteers than there are positions for them. Stop
supporting the creation of more upper middle class PNG jobs
within these conservation organisations when it is more effective
to provide direct assistance to the average type of grassroots
Papua New Guinean including women and youth.
19. Papua New Guineans Are Capable
Donors, learn what the word spiv means. Its an Australian term,
look it up. There are many excellent Papua New Guineans out
there. They could lead local NGOs and do great things. But those
kinds of people usually get pushed aside by the kind of NGO
donors like you tend to support. The good people in PNG aren’t
politician people but concerned ones. The problem is that
politics increasingly rules the day in PNG and in many NGOs too
so the people who get ahead in these organisations are often
political types. The ones who play politics the best become the
winners in the kinds of NGOs you big donors tend to support. It
is with these political types that you’ll first come in contact
with and are impressed by. Any good people in these NGOs stay in
the background because they rarely try to impress with their
accomplishments or try to push their faces to the front. Some
political people you donors come in contact with within the NGOs
are definitely corrupt and people here are well aware. The
corruption is not surprising because the reason these characters
play politics is to gain power in the first instance.
Becoming boss of this kind of NGO leads to good perks such as a
nice car, money for televisions, and money for international
school fees. All this is out of the range of most hard working
Papua New Guineans. The head of these kinds of NGOs are motivated
mostly by money so are easily tempted to steal and misuse NGO
resources. The stupid ones get caught but the smart ones are
harder to figure out and may escape detection. They are smart
talkers and have learned how to impress with the right words and
terms. The most common corruption device used by these NGO people
today is the kickback. Somehow the NGO head pays for something or
issues a contract to a relative or friend. The recipient of the
work quietly returns part of the money as a fee or through
nonmonetary gifts. Normal auditing practices never find this
corruption which allows the person to boost their power and
wealth by developing more extensive kickback schemes. Donors
usually don’t catch the smart thieves within the NGO community
because they don’t look carefully enough at who they deal with.
The large donors supporting NGOs put far too much money into the
very kinds of NGOs that attract spivs and political types.
Sometimes the donors unknowingly but directly support individuals
who were already corrupted by too many years in government. You
can easily find out who these people are with any effort just ask
around. The large donors are supporting and expanding a
particular kind of NGO structure that attracts these kinds of
people to apply. Once in powerful positions the spivs find more
of their kind to fill out the organisation. They want yessa
men and silent workers who won’t question any wrongdoing they
Sometimes a good person will be hired maybe by accident. Those
good people may end up corrupted themselves or they may give up
and stop performing. The more the big donors continue to support
these kinds of NGOs, the bigger and more dominant these kinds of
NGOs will become. The more job positions will be available in the
NGO community for spivs. More and more of the wrong kind of
person will flood the NGO community, while good Papua New
Guineans who could make a lot of difference will either never
have a chance or will get burned out and overwhelmed by their
surroundings. How long would you stay ethical and committed if
you worked in an NGO where everyone spends their time talking
mostly money things? Give good Papua New Guineans a chance to
show what they can do. Stop supporting the kinds of NGOs that
attract the opposite kind of spivy Papua New Guineans.
20. Do The Foreign Conservationists Believe Such Things In Their
- That Papua New Guineans cannot develop organizations on their
own thinkings and initiative and need to be lead from overseas?
- That Papua New Guineans cannot come to their own realizations
and ideas about conservation needs in PNG without being spoonfed
information or having foreign scientists coming in and telling us
what our problems are?
- That Papua New Guineans cannot figure out how to do most things
on their own, when we see the need?
- That we have no brains to seek out and find the skills we need
in conservation today, yet we were able to survive nicely without
foreign help for many thousands of years?
- That we need these foreign CIs WWFs TNCs DKWs and AKSIZs kind
of organizations to spoon feed us and baby us which only attracts
lazy Papua New Guineans that will not do things on their own?
21. Advice to Donors
In my darkest moments I wonder how many representatives of such
foundations as Ford, MacArthur, Gates, Packard, etc., would have
looked and looked and found some good in Pol Pot’s leadership
they could support. Of course you donor reps must be frustrated
at how difficult it is to put money to good uses. It has to be a
challenging job which I don’t envy. Maybe the only way you see
yourself not becoming a diehard cynic is to take the higher road
and always see the bright side of everything.
Of course you must get very frustrated but many of us who are
trying to dedicate our time to good things are frustrated too.
We’re frustrated when you show us glazed smiles, when you gloss
over the worst cases of mismanagement, misappropriation and
downright incompetence while commenting on our lovely office
décor, or a few good things that happened probably in spite of it
We don’t want your most pressing concern to be how much money you
can get rid of when your foundation files its tax papers. We
want your biggest concern to be finding more and better people,
groups and initiatives to give your money to. Set high
standards and don’t lower them. If you can’t find enough of
those good investments, please then consider spending your money
in ways that can create more good people. There is always a
solution, that’s why we wonder sometimes why you let yourself
sink into the same old problem.
Donor reps, maintain your positive outlook. We welcome it. At
the same time, please spend more time digging at the reality that
lies beneath. One colleague told the rest of us recently about
a donor rep she knew who would write a strong, positive reference
letter for any NGO people they came in contact with. The problem
was, whether the person was good or bad, they still got the good
reference letter. No one knows why this rep was so uncritical.
Maybe they thought their actions brightened peoples lives. In
any case the damage caused by those letters was substantial. Bad
people were hired in good organizations based on those letters in
at least one case, and the organization suffered as a result.
Please don’t do things like that as you investigate how to invest
your money in PNG. Stop letting yourself be bamboozled by the so
called model projects or the propagandized village visits and for
heavens sake, stop glossing over big problems in your interest of
highlighting strengths. We’re not saying to overlook the
strengths, just realise that single weaknesses can destroy
projects and organizations that had multiple strengths. Call a
spade a spade and do it to our face. If you don’t have the guts
send someone from your foundation who can be truthful and
critical, while caring.
Stop giving money so unquestionably to the international NGOs.
Critically and in depth explore what they’re doing and how
they’re doing it. Stop funding giant projects. They fail every
Start spending some of your overhead to understand better Papua
New Guinea’s needs. Find people who have really thought about
these things and bounce back ideas off enough of them that no one
of them colors your perspective too much.
Most of all, realize that it is nonsustainable to create
organizations in a developing country in the image of those that
have grown and matured over many years in developed countries.
Simplicity, grassroots, and small should be your words of
guidance if you want to contribute to something that really
For your consideration.
Now the cat is out of the bag and more people are joining this
effort. It’s not that the big boys in Washington, Sydney and
Glanz don’t know everything that you’ve read in these essays.
They know their projects are failing. They know that money is
being wasted, why else would they move so quickly to keep the
outright stealing from becoming public?
At least we know the strategy the big boys use. First they’ll
ignore this publicity, hoping the smell will go away. If it
doesn’t or if it comes on real strong real fast, they've got
their PR units ready to stomp out any hint of failure or
criticism and kick down the doors of dissension like veritable
Gestapo agents. Whitewash after all is their middle name.
They’re more likely to erase and purge than they are to confront,
debate and learn. Their biggest concern is to keep the money
flowing and avoid embarrassment. Will they continue to prove
themselves as being more part of the problem rather than being
part of a solution?
Will the big boys quickly move to purge this material from the
internet so there is no chance that they will be EMBARRASSED?
Will they continue to prove themselves as being more part of the
problem rather than being part of a solution? We know that
after an incomplete draft of this collection of essays was
leaked, a witchhunt began at CI like following recipe in a
cookbook. CI stooges are showing themselves more interested in
finding out who did it, than to reflect upon the points we’ve
made. But of course we forget: the purpose of witch hunts is not
to find solutions.
The big boys in Washington and Sydney have perfected ways to get
the big donors to eat out of the palms of their hands, and the
donors don’t even know it. Yet, the decisions these donors are
making is destroying the very ingredients of sustainability-a
truly indigenous, truly PNG conservation movement, that begins
with the germination of a few seeds and over time develops into a
forest. It will never happen as long as the big boys are in
town, though they’ll be armed with plenty of documents, colour
pictures and maps to try and prove otherwise.
The big donors know all this. The content here won’t be new to
them either. No, what will attract their attention and worry
them the most is the same thing as what affects the big boys.
It’s the possibility of EMBARRASSMENT. Of losing future ways to
attract MONEY. That’s what they’re concerned with.
The real power to change this horrible mess in Papua New Guinea
doesn’t lie in the hands of the big boys of conservation but in
the hands of the donors. The donors could fess up and face up to
what’s going on. If it struck their fancy, they could learn to
become very critical and analytical of what the international
conservation NGOs are doing in PNG, and the subtle but far
reaching collateral damage that they’re causing to the long term
development of indigenous conservation NGOs whenever they fund
the idiocy that is now being supported.
Will the big donors continue to fund such idiocy? Will they
dismiss all this as cynical bitterness (they’re ignoring the
suggestions), their own cynicism showing by that very statement?
Time will tell.
23. Country Office Predictions
“An interesting read indeed. You’ll find soon enough how
they’ll react. If the information and accusations are
threatening enough, their first response will be to find out who
is behind it and next to find ways to make themselves look
better. Gloss will take precedence over substance, with little
attention spent tackling core problems. Talk more with the field
staff because country directors can’t stifle their talk outside
the office. Frequently field and support staff resent country
directors for their constant travelings, and for doing so little
of the dirty work used to promote the successes of the NGO.
A second common reaction we saw over here was for the
international groups to actively develop ties with national ones.
This dampens the criticism and effectively compromises the
national groups. The international NGOS are able to use their
better financial positions to indirectly buy off the national
NGOS. If the heads of the two kinds of NGO groups know each
other socially, that makes it easier still to suppress the
I caution you not to be too blind to the realities of the
national NGOs. Mismanagement levels are sometimes high. Many are
run similar to the international NGOS and the staff may have
worked for both kinds of NGOS. Carefully observe how they
respond to the international NGOS if you want to assess their
independence. They may be little different than the
internationals. Better to learn early.
My last word of advice is not to expect significant change in
their way of doing business. Apart from a brief and public
display of changing their ways, their low level of effectiveness
in the field will remain. We try to stay completely away from
them because their influence contaminates us with bad habitats.
It has been important for us to avoid any appearance of being
compromised by their offerings.”
With the help of willing donors such as AUS-AID, UNDP, The
MacArthur Foundation, and The Moore Foundation, any possibility
of achieving lasting conservation of PNG’s biodiversity is being
destroyed in the here and now. The continued unquestioning,
uncritical support these donors give to the international
conservation NGOs as they hand out the big bucks condemns the
people of PNG to increasingly look towards the big boys for help,
answers, and payouts conserve their tropical forests and coral
reefs. No one has faith that Papua New Guineans are fully
capable of doing this for themselves without the big boys either
in the fore or the background. In a zillion different subtle
ways, the big boys tell us that we need their help in PNG. After
we hear this enough times, we buy their line. They’re in.
The international conservation NGOs in PNG are proving to be a
model of how not to do either conservation or development. They
violate fundamental laws of sustainable development again and
again glossing over such imperatives as the need to start small
and grow slowly. They conveniently ignore the fact that
initiatives must start from the bottom up if they’re to last.
These NGOs have perfected the ability to the word participatory
in all their plans and conversations, yet they show incapability
of applying a truly participatory approach or bottom-up planning
style in anything they do at an organizational level. This
blatent hypocrisy, which hardly anyone notices, much less
challenges, would be maddening if its implications weren’t so
tragic. The conservation areas in PNG today are largely lines
drawn on the map.
There is no conviction on the ground for these silly things.
They are merely figments of the imagination.
The big tragedy today in PNG is that the big donors are happily
giving beaucoup bucks to create mega-projects whose highest
priority is not so much to achieve conservation as it is to
become a giant incinerator that will burn through lots of cash
without the smoke stinking too much. The “think big”
philosophy that is the principal poison of so many PNG
development collapses is nonetheless embraced by the big donors
and the conservation big boys. That failed strategy is coming to
permeate the fabric of the NGO community like mildew, condemning
the entire conservation movement to work more and more in the
office and less and less with the people in whose hands the fate
of PNG’s forests and reefs lie, and perpetuating the dominance of
the green imperialists in PNG.
AUS-AID with its incentive fund, encourages NGOs to ask for more
money, burn more cash - assuming of course, that when the money
burns, any rotten smell will be masked.
TNC, CI, and WWF, driven by outside pressure either of their own
making or from timetables set by overseas donors, passively toe
the line, draw lines on maps and point to protected forests that
are superficially protected at best and sometimes complete
illusions. Their efforts should be praised in that they seem to
have hoodwinked the donors completely. Either that or the donors
simply don’t care. Pardon the observation, but it seems that the
big donors are primarily concerned with finding a money burner
that won’t put out a stink. The big boy conservation groups
haven’t learned to stop the stink, but to the donor’s delight,
they have learned to use a variety of odor masking perfumes.
RESPONSE FROM THE FIELD to criticism that this was a wrong
approach in PNG to tell the truth about CI, WWF and TNC:
1-“There was no value in criticizing like we’ve done before and
getting the same zero response in their patronizing attitude
2-“The whingers who say we did it wrong don’t know what they’re
talking about. Probably themselves they’ve never brought up
wrong doings in a way that actually threatened the criminals.”
3-“.…The bosses never listen but will nod their heads yes then
do no every time just like the pollies.”
4-“PNG is a small country so sometimes it’s hard to speak out
in public with opposing or controversial views when your
opponents have no desire to change. Instead they’ll start to see
you as the enemy and you may suffer every time you cross paths
with that person. You can only stop the problem by making an
apology where you take back everything you said, even if it was
true. All you do then is support the corruptions.”
5-“…Let the foreign NGOS respond according to our prediction so
the whole world will laugh at them and remember.”
ONGOING REACTION FROM CI, WWF, TNC OFFICES IN PNG Latest
56% effort: towards finding out which people wrote this-to stop
more truth from coming out.
18% effort: towards more PR in order to cover up the truth.
15% effort: towards stopping new leaks of the truth that would
further shame them.
10% effort: towards trying to make friends with local NGOs and
stop the criticism.
1% effort: towards stopping their neocolonialism, wasted money,
false success stories & outright conservation failures.
All as predicted. These foreign NGOs show no ability to solve
their problems they're so busy all the time trying to cover up
and buying off people.
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