After a rousing international speech at the Bali Climate Change meet in 2007, Kevin Conrad has become something of a pinup boy for Climate Issues, but it seems his past is catching up with him and he may have to sort out his backyard soon before he takes on the world.
(For those of you in London, you can catch Kevin at Chatham House from 6-7 July this year, where he will be a keynote speaker at a high-level debate on the politics of reaching a multilateral climate change agreement in 2009.)
As a comment on a blog stated, “Kevin “Con Rat” Conrad does not represent Papua New Guinea, he is representing the Somare family who is involved in logging of Papua New Guinea’s rainforests and contributing to destruction of environment and lives of forest [depending] people.” Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know but Ilya Gridneff from AAP reports below:
One of the world’s leading voices on climate change policy, Kevin Conrad, has been linked to a string of failed business dealings in Papua New Guinea.
Conrad, PNG’s UN Special Envoy and Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment, came to international notoriety at the Bali conference in 2007 he told the US to either lead the debate or get out of the way.
This year the UN Environment Program named Conrad a ‘Champion of the Earth’.
Last year, Time magazine named Conrad number one “Leader and Visionary” within its annual list of “Heroes of the Environment”.
But in PNG, Conrad has a different legacy.
PNG’s Public Service Minister Peter O’Neill when opposition leader in parliament in 2007 attacked the government on Conrad’s business dealings.
He accused Conrad of involvement in a failed housing scheme in the 1990s for the Public Officers Superannuation Fund where 17 million kina ($A8million) was paid but not one single house was built.
O’Neill also alleged Conrad in the early 2000s was involved in PNG’s banking corporation losing almost 35 million kina ($A18million) while landowners lost their coffee plantations because of the collapse of an coffee export company.
PNG’s Eastern Highlands province Governor Mal Smith told AAP that Highlanders who lost coffee plantations due to Conrad fear they will lose their forests through his climate change dealings.
“We don’t trust him with the money carbon trading will bring,” he said.
Paul Barker director of PNG think-tank, the Institute of National Affairs, said Conrad’s international persona was quite different to the perception in PNG.
“There are tens of thousands of (superannuation fund) contributors now asking where did the funds go?” he asked.
“And now if he is going to be directly involved in a mechanism managing trust funds for carbon trading, well concerns about the past need to be resolved.
“He really needs to do a little bit of explaining.
“There is a wide public scepticism within PNG.”
Conrad was notably absent from this week’s PNG Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability roadshow touring the country to promote and explain their push towards carbon trading.
And Conrad did not respond to approaches in relation to O’Neill’s allegations.
But in an interview earlier this year with AAP, when asked if he was a failed businessman Conrad said: “I’ve succeeded more than I’ve failed. If you look at PNG every businessman has failed about as often as they have succeeded and the reason is because the government has had too much control.”