US-based philanthropist Steven C Rockefeller Jr made a private visit to Papua New Guinea late last month and came away with the view that the country was heading for “exciting times”.
“It’s clear that it is a historical time for PNG with the increase in wealth from the energy sector and opportunities to grow health and human services,” he said in an interview with The National after a three-day visit to Port Moresby.
He left the country on Sept 26.
“I think it is a time of great excitement, a time of great promise, a time of great responsibility and I am happy to be here at this time,” he added.
Mr Rockefeller, 48, is a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and grandson of former US vice-president Nelson Rockefeller.
He has previously received a Fulbright Award at the United Nations for his services to poverty alleviation.
He was a key figure in the development of Deutsche Bank’s microcredit initiative, which has assisted poor people around the world gain access to small loans and banking services that would otherwise be off limits.
He was also pivotal in the drafting of the Earth Charter, an international declaration of fundamental values and principles on sustainable development.
Mr Rockefeller described his visit as a fact-finding trip, looking into development issues affecting Papua New Guinea.
He attended briefings by the Forest Industry Association and visited the Rimbunan Hijau’s Panakawa integrated timber processing facility in Western province.
He was also briefed on the economy of PNG and the political developments.
State Enterprise Minister Arthur Somare joined Mr Rockefeller at a dinner and the LNG project
featured prominently in their discussions.
Mr Rockefeller said that PNG was poised for change and there were opportunities for investment.
“It’s clear that there are tremendous opportunities for investments in infrastructure, schools and health care systems for a start.”
He said all stakeholders, including investors, developers and non-governmental organisations could unite to deliver change.
“We all have tremendous opportunities together to make a difference and provide the next generation with the experience and support they need.
“I am fortunate to have met and learned from some fine people in the early part of my trip.”
Mr Rockefeller said he hoped to return soon.