Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has described as “fruitful” the visit by France’s President Emmanuel Macron as the two countries established cooperation in forest management, conservation, and climate change.

“France is a big nation and we did not take lightly his arrival into our country,” he said.

“The key outcome of this meeting was not just the walk in the park of the Koiari Mountain, but a statement we were making to the world that forests of this earth must be managed, preserved and harvested in the right manner.”

He held a meeting with Macron in Port Moresby on Friday before travelling by road to Varirata Park in Sogeri.

They agreed to the opening of an office in PNG where France will run all their projects in the country.

Macron said France was working on two main commitments: climate change and strategic military security.

He said another project was to build a new international consensus “that reconciles the fight against poverty and the global warming and its consequences for biodiversity”.

Macron assured PNG of France’s readiness to allocate a EUR$63 million (K238 million) funding for the period 2021-2024 under the forests, climate change, and biodiversity intervention programme in PNG.

The Managalas Conservation area in the Northern Province will be one of the projects in this programme.

The two leaders signed four documents:

*Support PNG’s upgrade of its port infrastructure network;

*Foster cooperation with respect to financial systems in PNG ensuring resilience to climate related risk as well as for conservation and adaptation to climate change;

*An agreement between the French Development Agency, PNG Power Limited and ENERCAL to mobilise French funding and expertise on energy transition to support renewable energy integration in PNG Power’s system, and;

*A contribution agreement between the European Union delegation and Expertise France for the implementation of National Component of the European Union’s new Forestry Climate Change and Biodiversity nexus support programme for PNG.

President Macron and Prime Minister James Marape walked through a “bush track” from the Varirata National Park picnic area to the lookout point freshly named after the visiting dignitaries.

It’s now called the Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frederic Macron lookout point.

The walk through the lush national park was underlined by the signing of a new environment initiative — backed by French and European Union financing — that will reward countries that preserve their rainforests. Marape, when showing his guest, the view from the lookout point that is 833 meters above sea level on the Sogeri Plateau in Central, said the country’s rainforest was the third largest and undisturbed tropical rainforest in the world.

“Preserving its integrity is of utmost importance,” he said.

“We invited President Macron to showcase the beauty of PNG’s forests and to demonstrate our commitment to preserving them by refraining from deforestation and destruction of our precious vegetation.”

Marape said while the country appreciated the efforts of world leaders in protecting rainforests, “we also seek their financial support to ensure the sustainability of our rainforests now and in the future”.

“By managing our rainforests responsibly, we secure the future for our children and grandchildren, ensuring that they continue to benefit from this precious natural heritage,” Marape said.

“And sustainable rainforest management can also lead to financial support for vital sectors such as education, road maintenance, and healthcare, and help to reduce the country’s dependency on destructive practices for assistance.”

He added that whether you are a Papua New Guinean or French, “we share one planet, and its preservation remains paramount”.

Macron promised greater strides in rainforest conservation and sustainable development.

“Preserving forests creates value chains and jobs, fostering both environmental preservation and economic growth. This treasure must be conserved, not just for its biodiversity and carbon capture potential, but also to provide promising job prospects for our youth,” he said.