At 463,000 square kilometers, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the largest Pacific island state. Located in the South West Pacific, it is bound by the Gulf of Guinea and the Coral Sea to the south, Indonesia to the west, the Solomon Sea to the east, and the Bismarck Sea to the northeast. PNG comprises the eastern half of New Guinea island, four additional islands (Manus, New Ireland, New Britain, and Bougainville), and 600 smaller islets and atolls to the north and east . PNG is home to a diverse range of ecosystems, including mountain glaciers, humid tropical rainforests, swampy wetlands, and immaculate coral reefs. Approximately 30% of the country’s landmass is covered by forests and four of the world’s remaining significant forests are found in PNG . In addition to harboring abundant natural resources such as gold, copper, oil and natural gas, PNG boasts 7% of the world’s biodiversity.
PNG has a total population of approximately 6.7 million , and the majority of these (87%) live in rural areas where access to markets, services, and income-generating opportunities is limited. Agriculture, fishing, community forestry, and artisanal and small-scale mining are primary livelihood activities in rural areas. It is estimated that over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line ; the number of people living on less than $US 1 per day rose from 25% to 39% between 1996 and 2006, respectively. Widespread poverty, limited and expensive access to inputs and markets, poor infrastructure, ineffective extension services, limited access to credit, corruption, safety and security concerns, and insufficient awareness or mitigation of environmental impacts all heighten the vulnerability of the local population across PNG. PNG is already prone to numerous natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. Climate variability and change are set to accelerate the occurrence of landslides, soil erosion, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity, as well as increase occurrence of recurrent floods and droughts. The agriculture and water resources sectors, as well as ecosystems and health sectors, will be hardest hit.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities