Papua New Guinean professionals sharpen climate change expertise

Australia Awards PNG participants studying a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management (Climate Change Policy) at The University of Queensland

The University of Queensland’s International Development unit (part of the Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education), and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences co-designed a 12-week intensive Graduate Certificate, tailored to focus on climate change policy and action for leading professionals from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The Graduate Certificate provides PNG professionals with both theoretical learning and practical experiences, with a strong focus on contextualising the Australian experience and sharing expertise between PNG and Australia.  The Graduate Certificate is one of a number of Australia Awards Short Courses tailored to foster knowledge and skills in priority areas.

Paul Dargusch, Associate Professor at UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, co-designed the course with UQ’s International Development unit, and provided oversight to the 12-week course delivered in 2019.

“The support from Australia Awards has allowed us to develop a unique course that builds on our existing master’s programs but tailors its content to the specific needs of the participants from PNG.

“We have designed the course to ensure academic concepts and theory are linked with practical activities and experiences to develop skills and knowledge that can be taken directly back into the workplace and community of each participant in PNG,” Paul said.

The 26 professionals from PNG received a valuable opportunity to learn from their respective Australian counterparts about climate change issues and actions taken that will benefit their home country.

Nicole Masta, Department of National Planning and Monitoring

Australia Awards Short Course PNG participants from left, Nicole Masta, Gertrude Miria, Lesley Gagesin

“PNG is a signatory to the Paris Agreement and has made significant commitments in both its Nationally Determined Contribution and domestic policy. The course has had a real impact for me at it has helped me see the important role my department has in realising climate change targets. I am working with my colleagues to establish a National Coordination Mechanism on Climate Finance to align our needs for action with financial support,” Nicole said.

“The additional understanding and skills I bring from the learning at UQ will certainly help in my role to bring departments together and explain the importance of climate change and our shared responsibility for action, and the networks I’m establishing with other Australia Awards participants will be very helpful in tackling challenges collectively.”

Nasain Karpo, Economic Programme Officer, East New Britain

Australia Awards Short Course PNG participant, Nasain Karpo

“Climate change is impacting our province and its economy but it has not been included in our planning documents. The course has helped me see practical ways to plan and develop actions on climate change for our province and I will work to support its integration into our new development plans,” Nasain said.

Kaius John, Oxfam International

Australia Awards Short Course PNG participants Kaius John (left) and Timothy Lawton (right) visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra

“The course has provided me with a deeper knowledge of climate change and practical tools to help us take action on it. I have been able to apply the five capital models for vulnerability assessment to Oxfam’s work across six highland provinces, and I will be working to integrate a gender-sensitive and climate-based value chain analysis to our work on livelihood development. Practical steps that make a real difference to our work,” Kaius said.

The Australia Awards in PNG are a long-standing part of Australia’s development partnership with Papua New Guinea, investing in current and future leaders.  Australia Awards support access to study and research opportunities that will support scholars to drive change and help build enduring people-to-people links with Australia.

In addition to classroom-based learnings, the PNG professionals were taken across Queensland and Australia, for extended visits to Greater Brisbane areas such as Gold Coast and surrounds, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, and Stradbroke Island. The participants were exposed to ambitious zero emissions policies, UQ’s remarkable solar panel farms, Indigenous communities, coastal management, climate change mitigation strategies, sustainable farming and reforestation leading to carbon management, and more.

The group had a chance to visit Australia’s capital city Canberra, where they discussed climate change issues with representatives from the Department Foreign Affairs and Trade and Department of the Environment and Energy.  Academics from Australian National University also collaborated with UQ by inviting key presenters from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to cover contemporary climate change issues from a global and local practitioner perspective.

The course is based on a 12-week foundation module delivered in Australia that covers the world’s best practice in climate change action and policy, followed by practical application of participants’ learnings upon their return to PNG.

“The Australia Awards Short Course aims to assist PNG professionals in climate change and ultimately the Government of PNG to build the knowledge and skills necessary to help them act to preserve PNG’s environment and take critical steps in the global fight against climate change,” Phil Cowling said.

For more information about Australia Awards in Papa New Guinea, visit


Last updated:
22 July 2019