Millennium Development Goals and Development Indicators Workshop – Papua New Guinea

Exchanging local and international knowledge in measurement against indicators to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was the focus of a workshop held in Lae in August.

A total of 55 local and international participants attended the workshop at the PNG University of Technology (UniTech). The workshop was co-hosted by the Australian National University (ANU), UniTech and IM4DC.

The MDG were adopted in September 2000, when leaders from 189 nations agreed on a vision for a world in which developed and developing countries worked in partnership for the betterment of all. Eight MDG provide a framework of time-bound targets for which progress can be measured.

The focus of the workshop was on identifying theoretical and practical issues in measuring poverty and the wellbeing of the population in PNG. The program included keynote presentations, working group sessions, and a fieldtrip to the village of Gabensis, for participants to experience first hand the process of gathering data relevant to measuring against the MDG.

The visit to Gabensis commenced with an introductory and welcoming speech from Ward Councillor, Mr Francis Paul, and a thank you reply and outline of proposed activities by Dr John Burton from ANU, the principal organiser of the workshop.

Keynote presentations of the workshop covered the following topics:

  • The teaching of ‘Millennium Development Goals and Strategic Human Development’, a presentation on a successful course offered in the Communication and Development Studies Department at UniTech, by Associate Professor Garry Sali, UniTech
  • ‘Poor numbers – the misreporting of development indicators as an impediment to development’, a presentation on the logistical difficulties of accurately measuring development indicators and the impact of differences and disagreements as to what the numbers ought to measure or indicate, by Dr John Burton, ANU
  • ‘Narratives and numbers in Social Impact Assessment’, a presentation on what counts as a ‘social impact – i.e. a measurable change of a social variable brought about by a driver, by Associate Professor Colin Filer
  • ‘Understanding the 2011 National Population Census: provincial populations and growth trends’, a presentation on the importance of ensuring Census data, as sources for measuring achievement of the MDG, are accurate, by Dr Bryant Allen
  • ‘Correlation between Multidisciplinary Poverty Index (MPI) scores and other development indicators: data from three Districts in PNG’, a presentation of the technique of carrying out an MPI and how this correlates (or not) to other forms of indicators on development, by Dr John Burton
  • ‘Discrepancies between national mortality data and international estimates: the experience of Papua New Guinea’, an illuminating presentation on the differences in numbers of maternal mortality rates in which the presenter, after noting that maternal mortality should be considered the key indicator of the health of any national health system, points out the wide discrepancies of estimated maternal death rates in PNG, by some accounts the worst in the world, by Professor Glen Mola, School of Medicine and Health Science, UPNG.

Overall, participants rated the workshop a great success and expressed interest in developing further collaboration to achieving the MDG in PNG. A further more comprehensive workshop is being planned by the co-hosts, which may include a supplementary workshop that focuses more specifically on the relationship between mining and MDG indicators in PNG.

IM4DC’s program includes connecting mining to human development goals through a more sustainable use of mineral and energy resources, and inclusive engagement with developing communities.