Thank-you Prime Minister May, and your Government, as well as the people of the United Kingdom, for the warm welcome and generous hospitality.
The theme of this meeting, Towards a Common Future, is both relevant and timely.
It certainly recognises the unique history, the aspirations, and challenges of all Commonwealth nations.
This theme also highlights the opportunities that face us all, and highlights the importance of solidarity in the challenges we face together.
A FAIRER FUTURE
The Commonwealth has a proud history of taking affirmative action to protect democratic principles.
The Commonwealth has worked tirelessly to strengthen the institutions that are essential for economic growth and development.
This underpins a clear commit to the values of human rights, gender equality, good governance, democracy and the rule of law.
We have seen this commitment in the past year, as Commonwealth Observers were on the ground in our country for recent National elections.
They certainly played an important role in ensuring elections were free from hindrance, and so the democracy could prevail.
Papua New Guinea is committed to these ideals.
A MORE PROSPEROUS FUTURE
Trade and investment are critical to economic growth in any country.
It improves in income generation and employment for our people.
However, the global economy today is threatened by the prevalence of protectionist trade measures, a surge in anti-trade rhetoric, declining investment and rising inequality.
The challenge for the Commonwealth is to rise against these trends by boosting trade and investment among our member countries.
We are a diverse group of countries including developed, developing and the least developed.
We also have many of the largest economies in the world, and several regional trade groupings including the World Trade Organisation.
This membership provides the Commonwealth with the opportunity to demonstrate leadership – to expand trade and investment and create a fairer and more equitable global economy.
Papua New Guinea reaffirms our commitment to the multilateral trading system, and we want to see a more transparent, inclusive, and free and open rules-based system.
This also requires the larger economies to help in creating more opportunities for smaller economies.
Specifically, we greater need for support to grow small and medium enterprises, and to promote the economic empowerment of women.
A MORE SECURE FUTURE
Today, threats to national security and transnational crime are a global phenomenon.
The sovereignty of all Commonwealth nations is threatened by transnational crime.
The growth opportunities of emerging economies are attractive to many international businesses.
Most of these come to our countries to make a legitimate profit, and in the process stimulate economic growth and create jobs.
There are also foreign companies that come to exploit, to take advantage of evolving and sometimes weak financial regulator regimes, and immigration and labour laws.
It is important that our Government’s commit to addressing transnational crime and to provide a safe and secure environment for all who live in the Commonwealth.
Papua New Guinea has enacted several pieces of new legislation to deal with the Proceeds of Crimes, to prosecute the corrupt and those who corrupt them.
We have new legislation to deal with cyber-crimes.
We have laws to prevent forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
But given the transcending nature of all of these crimes, we need to support each other to make sure there is better enforcement of these laws through multilateral cooperation.
Papua New Guinea seeks greater co-operation and support through the Commonwealth, and other global forums, to enhance international cooperation as the best means to combat transnational crime.
A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Commonwealth countries are faced with massive challenges that threaten our growth, and in many cases, even our very survival.
The dire effects of climate change, particularly on vulnerable island nations, cannot be stressed enough.
Year-in-year-out we are faced with extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change.
Extreme tropical storms, and unprecedented drought, are devastating our communities.
Papua New Guinea reaffirms our commitment to the Paris Climate Change Accords, and the Talanoa Dialogue.
These are commitments should form the basis of real global action – to make sure there is effective preparedness, and help countries to adapt to the new world which climate change is affecting all of our lives.
But sadly, often action has not followed words from these global forums.
Adequate funding mechanisms have been established, but funding has not followed the pledges.
The developing countries did not cause climate change, but we are paying the price of this because of the industrialised nations who caused climate change.
As an organisation, the Commonwealth must be a stronger forum for stimulating action on climate change.
Papua New Guinea fully supports the adoption of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, but we must ensure appropriate action and innovative funding processes are implemented.