Northern Province Governor, Gary Juffa, issued this strong statement at New Ireland’s recent Council of Elders.
Juffa was a special guest at the 10th Council of Elders summit on Tabar Island, New Ireland Province.
Speaking to 180 local men and women leaders from the 142 wards of New Ireland, Juffa reminded them that they are the custodians of their natural environment. Their unique culture, flora and fauna depends on the decisions that they make today.
“Today these things, these precious gifts, these resources that we often take for granted because we think of them as being free, they are diminishing and disappearing around the world,” he said. “The world out there is driven by greed and profit. It doesn’t care for humanity. It doesn’t care for Malagan or the culture, our land. It doesn’t care for the fish in the oceans, the creatures in the forests. All that matters is the profit margin, the balance sheet.
“And these are very powerful forces,” continued the Governor. “They come with bags of money, fancy lawyers and accountants and soon enough, they will be taking what you have, if you’re not careful.”
Juffa gave as an example the strife that Africa is currently facing due to the exploitation of their enormous natural wealth, including vast deposits of precious minerals, by international mining companies, leaving little to the poverty-ravaged population.
“People who had clans and tribes and families, cultures just like us,” Juffa stressed. “Soon enough these powerful forces came and displaced them. Now their land is at war; with marginalised, displaced people living in poverty, in misery. Their rivers and oceans are polluted, they can barely breathe.”
Juffa stressed that PNG will lose its valuable environment if it does not think of tomorrow.