Opportunity for research on conflict mitigation and prevention in Bougainville

Institution: Queensland University of Technology

This project examines people-to-people strategies to collaborate with communities to develop strategies to mitigate and prevent conflict and engage in reconciliation processes. The project takes a multi-layered and multi-generational approach to facilitating dialogue among groups in conflict and addressing the power relations at play within certain groups and communities. It does so by engaging in a creative practice approach creating safe environments for expression and designing non-violent solutions to conflict.

Full details at https://www.qut.edu.au/research/our-research/student-topics/conflict-mitigation-and-prevention-through-creative-reflective-practice-in-bougainville-papua-new-guinea

Study level: PhD, Masters

Deadline: unstated

Opportunity for research on sorcery-related violence in PNG

Institution: Queensland University of Technology

Project: PNG Sorcery National Action Plan (SNAP)

The project is supported by the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). A variety of government partners as well as Australian and PNG universities are involved in the project.

Fieldwork in four sites in Papua New Guinea. Will involve active engagement with community participants.

Full details at https://www.qut.edu.au/research/our-research/student-topics/developing-communication-strategies-for-social-change-against-sorcery-related-violence-in-papua-new-guinea

Study level: PhD

Deadline: 30 September 2016

Chevening Scholarships


Chevening Scholarships are now open for applications for masters by coursework postgraduate study in the UK starting in September 2017. The normal requirement is the achievement of an upper second class bachelor degree (called a “2:1” in the UK system and equivalent to an overall Distinction in this part of the world) + at least two years working experience.

In practice, a DWU applicant will need a local postgraduate qualification of some kind. Unlike the case for applicants for Australia Awards, it will be necessary to pass an IELTS test with a score of 5.5. or higher.

Consult the web site for the detailed eligibility criteria.

The Scholarships cover all costs, including travel to and from the UK, for a period of 12 months.

Deadline for application this year is 8 November 2016.

APEC Women in Research Fellowship

Opportunity for female PhD holders, with priority to those <5 years post-PhD. It’s for a 1-4 month research project which you would do as an associate with an Australian academic institution and/or organisation, 1 July 2017 and 31 December 2017.

Good points: For Papua New Guinea female PhD holders.

A challenge: only two fellowships on offer, and probable fierce competition with applicants from Chile, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Still, you gotta be in it to win it.


URL is here: https://www.rmit.edu.au/about/our-education/academic-colleges/college-of-business/industry/australian-apec-study-centre/projects/australia—apec-women-in-research-fellowship

Australia – APEC Women in Research Fellowship

Providing financial support for high-achieving female researchers from developing APEC economies. The 2017 round of the fellowship will open in February 2017.

The Australia – APEC Women in Research Fellowship will provide financial support for high-achieving female researchers from developing APEC economies to pursue research opportunities in partnership with Australian education and research institutions.

This fellowship program aims to encourage the mobility of post-doctorate female researchers in the APEC region. It is therefore designed to assist with the particular challenges female researchers face in undertaking cross-border research activities such as lack of flexibility and extra financial support for child care.

Each year up to ten fellowships will be awarded to facilitate a research project of between one and four months. Within the pool of successful recipients, two fellowships will be offered to early career researchers with less than five years’ of professional research experience.


Awards for Papua New Guinea Conservation Area

[Originally published at http://www.blogs-mri.org/awards-for-papua-new-guinea-conservation-area/, 5 September 2016]

In a rare win for biodiversity conservation in Papua New Guinea (PNG), an alliance of ten clans shared in UNDP’s Equator Prize for their collaborative project on rainforest protection, winning US$10,000, praise at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) last December and recognition at a national award ceremony in PNG recently (Figure 1).

Figure 1. PNG’s UNDP Resident Coordinator, Roy Trivedy, with community members from the Wanang Conservation Area, at the national award ceremony in Madang, Papua New Guinea, 13 May 2016 (source: http://www.equatorinitiative.org)
Figure 1. PNG’s UNDP Resident Coordinator, Roy Trivedy, with community members from the Wanang Conservation Area, at the national award ceremony in Madang, Papua New Guinea, 13 May 2016 (source: http://www.equatorinitiative.org)

The Wanang Conservation Area is one of approximately 60 protected areas created in Papua New Guinea since 1962. The ten rainforest-dwelling clans, who work in conjunction with the non-governmental New Guinea Binatang Research Centre in Madang, a university town on the northern coast of the country, have chosen to protect 10,000 hectares of forest for their future livelihoods, rather than allow logging permits to be issued over their land.

The Binatang Research Centre is a practical demonstration that excellent science does not have to wait for government or big universities in order to be successful. The Research Centre operates as part of a network with six other ‘grass roots’ conservation groups in Papua New Guinea and has partnership agreements with five universities and research institutes in the country, the PNG government’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), as well as more than a dozen universities and research institutes in other countries. Small amounts of funding comes in the form of collaborative projects with research groups and PhD students who come to Madang to make use of the facilities, and moderately-sized research awards, such as a climate change mitigation award from the GEF Small Grants Programme and private sponsorships, such as from Steamships Trading Company Ltd, a Papua New Guinea business founded in 1918.

Figure 2. Location of the Binatang Research Centre and the conservation area.
Figure 2. Location of the Binatang Research Centre and the conservation area.

Led by its director, Professor Vojtech Novotny of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the centre has had also success on a bigger scale, with collaboration in internationally-funded research including the recent award of a European Research Council Advanced Grant for the five-year project ‘Ecological determinants of tropical-temperate trends in insect diversity’ with institutes in the US, Czech Republic and Japan.

The governmental scene in Papua New Guinea rainforest conservation

This contrasts with the poverty of domestic funding for conservation in Papua New Guinea itself. The World Bank[1] reclassified PNG in 2010 from a ‘low income country’ to a ‘lower middle income’ country largely on the basis of capital inflows surrounding an ExxonMobil-led LNG project that tipped GNI over the threshold of US$3,855 per capita. An optimistic government vowed to start spending 5% of the public investment part of the budget on research and development in its Vision 2050 plan and another 5% on environmental sustainability and climate change. Since the 2016 public investment budget was US$1.5 billion, these two items would come in at a tidy US$150 million this year, or about PGK450 million, if the promise was kept.

Alas, after falls in export prices the country is now struggling with a large budget deficit. In the midst of this, it is no surprise that basic funding commitments to tertiary institutions have not been met. Unrest at two of the state-run universities in 2016, with police opening fire on students in one incident, have resulted in the partial loss of the academic year. In this context, the absence of a domestic competitive grants scheme, desultory expenditure on any science facilities, and woeful internet access are the least of the science sector’s worries. The PGK450 million a year for R&D and environmental sustainability spending? The entire university sector, with some 15,000 students, is struggling to operate on a budget of far less than that.

What of the remainder of the 60 protected areas? Once upon a time, when carbon trading was going to be the next big thing, it was Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister who proposed the Coalition for Rainforest Nations and got conservation talks going at the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference in Bali.[2] Unfortunately, there has been glacial progress since Bali in linking the international schemes, like the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, to what might happen in the protected areas of a country like Papua New Guinea. A decade later, ‘inception workshops’ and ‘explanation of the project to relevant stakeholders’ are still the order of the day.

Figure 3. Field team member Malcolm Keako of the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority engaged in subcatchment mapping in the proposed Kokoda Interim Protection Zone in 2014.
Figure 3. Field team member Malcolm Keako of the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority engaged in subcatchment mapping in the proposed Kokoda Interim Protection Zone in 2014.

However, a Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) has been created and a Project Management Unit has been created within it for FCPF ‘activities’. Is this joined up government at last that will progress conservation? Not really, the protected areas are the responsibility of CEPA not CCDA. Neither agency has a web site or has published a substantive report recently. Which means that ‘home made’ organisations like the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre will outpace the efforts of the government sector for some time to come. Well done Professor Novotny and colleagues!

[1]      World Development Report 2010: http://go.worldbank.org/UVZ0HYFGG0

[2]      F. Pearce, ‘Saved?’ New Scientist 22 March 2008

Postgraduate study with ADB-Japan Scholarships and at East-West Center

The East-West Center Graduate Degree and ADB-Japan Scholarship Program postgrad scholarships are open now for applications for Master’s degree study.

East-West Center Postgrads
East-West Center Postgrads

Both fellowships are awarded for 12 months in the first instance, renewable for a further 12 months. The EWC Fellowship is specific to that institution and may not cover 100% of costs (air travel not included). The ADB-JSP award is for full costs (inc travel) and may be taken in Japan, Sydney, Melbourne, ANU (Crawford School), Auckland as well as at the EWC.

The ADB-Japan Scholarship requires applicants to have 2 years of full-time professional work experience after a 4 year university degree. See the FAQ for full requirements.

Application deadlines:  November 1 for August 2017 start.