Port Moresby – Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby is the capital city of Papua New Guinea. The city was originally an administrative centre for a colonial government. It was not until the 1970s when PNG achieved its independence that Melanesians became the majority of the city’s population. This majority has steadily increased ever since, with postcolonial expatriates and internationals now only making up a small minority of the city’s population. Port Moresby has an overall population of just over 400,000 with an average population density of around 16 persons per hectare. This is a relatively low density in global terms, but is unevenly made up densely packed urban villages and wide roads and verges with dispersed administrative offices set in sprawling, messy, fenced spaces. It could be a beautiful city based on self-managing urban villages, sustainable urban food production and intense relations between the town and its hinterland, however the sprawl is not positive.
Port Moresby is a baneful city with bountiful possibilities. From a more positive perspective, it is a city of small urban communities, a meeting place of cultures, a tropical capital located on the eastern coast of the beautiful Port Moresby Harbour. From another perspective, Port Moresby exists as a grey shadow in the global imagination as a city under internal siege. It is a city with one of the world’s worst street-crime rates, and a city that regularly appears in The Economist’s annual list of the world’s ‘worst cities’.
Overall, the complexity of Port Moresby is attributable to myriad factors including the Australian colonial legacy, vast wealth inequalities, intense movements of people, high rates of formal unemployment and a variably sustaining informal sector, ongoing destabilization of cultural values and ways of life, and rising tensions between ethnic groups.
Through the Globalism Research Centre, the Global Cities Institute has been working with the Department for Community Development since 2004. The Institute has contributed to policy developments that are rewriting the national approach to community sustainability. Under their Minister Dame Carol Kidu (recently retired) and Secretary Joseph Klapat, the Department has been in the forefront of rethinking community development strategies and partnerships, particularly as embodied in their recent major document Integrated Community Development Policy, 2007, and a series of subsequent reports. Paul James leads the work of the Global Cities Institute in Papua New Guinea.
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