Speech by PNG NRI Director, Dr Osborne Sanida, on the occasion of the visit by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. James Marape, MP, to PNG National Research Institute on 21 August 2019


  • Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. James Marape, M.P;
  • Hon. Ministers of State and MPs;
  • Mr Hohora Suve, Chairman and CEO, NEFC (and members of Commission);
  • Mr Wilson Thompson, Acting Chairman, PNG NRI Council (and Council Members);
  • NEFC Staff and other Senior Government Officers;
  • Media;
  • NRI staff;
  • Ladies and gentlemen.

NRI Brief History

It is always good to know where you have been in order to understand where you are now and where you want to go. The PNG National Research Institute (NRI) was originally established in 1961 as the New Guinea Research Unit (NGRU) of the Australian National University (ANU) at Badili. It then moved to the 3 Mile area in 1965 and then to its current location (here) in 1968. At Independence in 1975, the NGRU was renamed the Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research (IASER) through the IASER Act 1975. In 1993, the name was changed again to its present name, the National Research Institute, through the National Research Institute Act 1993.


Hon. Prime Minister, the NRI is Papua New Guinea’s premier public policy Think Tank mandated by
the NRI Act:

  • to conduct applied research into social and economic issues affecting PNG; and
  • to provide evidence-based information in order to assist in formulating solutions to such issues.

Mission and Vision

Given its mandate, the Mission of NRI is to provide quality research for informed decision-making leading to improved service delivery and better quality of life for all Papua New Guineans. Through this mission, the Institute aspires to be recognised among the leading public policy think tanks in the Asia-Pacific region.


Hon. Prime Minister, the Institute works to contribute to effective public policy design, analysis, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation through its mantra/motto of Inquire, Inform and Influence. To inquire is to research and analyse relevant public policy issues using relevant methods and tools. To inform is to disseminate the research results to key stakeholders, including Government. To influence is to try as much as possible to ensure that stakeholders use research information for informed decision-making for the betterment of the people.

Governance and Management

The work of the PNG NRI is governed by a Council (of 11 members, including two Members of Parliament) and managed by the Director, two Deputy Directors and senior officers of the Institute. The Institute has three Divisions: Research Division, Knowledge Management Division, and Corporate Services Division.

Research and Analysis (Inquire)

Hon. Prime minister, the Institute’s research work aims to address the key issues/goals facing PNG, as envisioned in the Vision 2050; Development Strategic Plan (DSP) 2010-2030; the Medium-Term Development Plans (MTDPs); and going forward, your own Government’s priorities. NRI’s research and analysis work is organised around eight Research Programs:

  1. Building Safer Communities Research Program – how we can make our communities safer for all because a safer community is the foundation for addressing the law and order issues in the country.
  2. Development Indicators Research Program – access, processing, storage and use of key development indicators for making informed decisions by key stakeholders.
  3. Economic Policy Research Program – income/wealth creation and improvement of economic institutions to enhance the involvement of our people in economic activities (focus areas: SMEs, SOEs, economic modelling). How can we give economic independence to our people?
  4. Gender in PNG Research Program – how equal opportunities can be provided to men and women in the development aspirations of the country.
  5. Governance Research Program – vital role of governance in advancing development in PNG.
  6. Informal Economy Research Program – how the informal economy can be developed to contribute to the broader economic development of the country by increasing income creation within the informal economy and the migration of informal economy participants to the formal economy.
  7. Property Sector Development Research Program – access to and effective and efficient use of land for the benefit of all key stakeholders: landowners, government and investors/business.
  8. Universal Basic Education (UBE) Research Program – access, retention, and quality of UBE as the foundation for our education system.

Publications and Policy Advocacy (Inform and Influence)

Hon. Prime Minister, based on its mandate, the NRI has produced many publications over the years. A sample of publication areas include: benefit-sharing arrangements in development projects; land access and administration issues; housing issues; economic modelling; SMEs; SOEs; law and order; Bougainville referendum; development planning; informal economy; UBE; elections; energy; gender issues; population and development; and governance and service delivery.

In addition to the publications, the NRI research team is engaged in policy development and analysis through engagement in various committees, meetings, and seminars and conferences (e.g. National Land Summit 2019). A key contribution of NRI to public policy analysis has been the offering of the popular annual Economic Policy Analysis Course (EPAC) since 1989. Going forward, it is hoped that more avenues will be provided for NRI research to feed into Government policy making, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation processes. NRI policy advocacy work also includes constructive criticisms, as and when required, for the purpose of making policy work better for our people.

PNG Knowledge Hub Development

Hon. Prime Minister, at this point, I wish to mention a key initiative that the Institute is undertaking to make public policy work better – the PNG Knowledge Hub (PNGKH) Concept. The NRI Council, in 2016, resolved to develop the Institute's Waigani Campus into the PNGKH.

The PNGKH is envisioned to be a facility where information and knowledge on development issues in PNG are created, shared and disseminated for informed decision-making.

It will bring together like-minded academics, researchers, thinkers, policy analysts, bureaucrats, private sector, and government representatives to work together to create knowledge that addresses issues/problems facing PNG.

It will provide a physical space at the NRI Campus strategically located next to the University of PNG and Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance (PILAG) Precinct. The Flagship infrastructure, approved by Council, will be the Sir Henry Chow Building, of which the Institute is seeking funding, including a PIP submission this year.

The focus of the PNGKH is to complement the work of the NRI in the following areas:

  • Create knowledge on development issues as well as specific problems on Key Development Constraints and to communicate the information to key stakeholders;
  • Facilitate the integration of the knowledge generated into the mainstream policy intervention mechanisms of Government and other agencies involved in development work; and
  • Create platforms for storing knowledge created by NRI as well as other agents in readily
    accessible forms for a variety of users, especially PNG policy practitioners.

PNG APEC Study Centre (PNG ASC) and Bougainville Referendum Research Project (BRRP)

As part of the PNGKH initiative, the Institute is hosting two programs/projects:

  • the PNGASC established in February 2017 to support PNG’s involvement in APEC by providing research and analysis on relevant APEC development themes, starting with APEC 2018; and
  • the BRRP established in 2017 to provide sound research-based information so that relevant stakeholders can make informed decisions regarding the Referendum with the aim of ensuring that the result/outcome of the Referendum is credible.

Funding Sources

PNG NRI is funded by the annual Government appropriations and internal revenue (for operational costs); and donor funding (which largely funds the research work of the institute). Going forward, Government Funding and internal revenue are required to fund the Institute’s research work and PNGASC so that reliance on donor funding can be reduced over time.

PNG NRI Undertaking

In closing, Hon. Prime Minister, the PNG NRI stands ready to work with your Government to advance the key policies and plans for the benefit of the People of PNG. This will be in the form of both working together and also providing constructive criticisms (as per the NRI mandate), with the ultimate aim of making informed decisions for the betterment of our people, whom we collectively serve in our different capacities.

Thank you.


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