Moving from €˜empty growth' to sustainable human development: Translating Papua New Guinea's resource wealth into broad-based, equitable forms of development

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Friday 27 June 2014


Seminar Room B (Arndt Room), HC Coombs Building (9), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Glenn Banks, Massey University, New Zealand


Louana Gaffey
+61 2 6125 8244


Papua New Guinea is, once again, going through an extractives-led economic boom, with GDP growth expected to top 21% next year as the production effects of the PNG LNG project kick in. There is widespread debate around the prospects of this growth bringing about real improvements in livelihoods and living standards for the bulk of the population, with concerns that as with previous booms, the opportunity to transform significant revenue flows into improvements in health, education and human development generally will not be maximised.

This seminar will provide an overview of the analysis and policy options that a UNDP-led process is developing, drawing on a mix of previous policy lessons from Papua New Guinea and the increasing amount of international experience with extractive industries and development. While there are some areas where policy choices are stark or implementation appears relatively straightforward, the highly politically-charged nature of development processes and economic and social life in Papua New Guinea places real limits on the likely efficacy of some international best practice models that seek to promote human development from the extractives sector. A number of such models are discussed to highlight the need for navigation between global innovation and the proven opportunistic ability of Papua New Guinean politics and society to mould such initiatives to suit their own interests. While parochialism and €˜local fit' (in the policy sense) are generally to be encouraged, what is apparent from experience in Papua New Guinea is that the extent of such malleability can often come at the cost of undermining the €˜human development' focussed intent of these €˜best practice' models.


Associate Professor Glenn Banks completed his PhD in Human Geography at ANU in 1997. Currently based at the Institute of Development Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand, he has worked €“ as a researcher and consultant €“ on the Papua New Guinea mining industry since the late 1980s. He has published on community and social aspects of large-scale resource developments and resource conflicts in Melanesia, and on social impact methodologies in the extractives sector. He is currently engaged with UNDP in developing a National Human Development Report for Papua New Guinea focussing on the links between the extractive industries and human development.

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