By Shabnam Mondal
The Bougainville Transition Dialogues Phase 2 (BTD2) project in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARoB), Papua New Guinea, continues the important work initiated by the Bougainville Referendum Dialogues (BRD) and Bougainville Transition Dialogues (BTD). By providing a platform for informed and constructive discussions, the BTD2 project aims to engage Bougainvilleans in shaping their political, economic, social, and spiritual future, supporting a peaceful transition.
At the core of the BTD2 project are the transition community dialogues conducted by facilitator teams across the 33 constituencies. These dialogues serve as vital spaces where community members, ranging from 8 to 70 participants, gather to receive updates from the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and engage in dialogue. Participants have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and prioritize issues, all of which are documented by facilitators. Through this process, the project fosters a feedback loop between the community and political leaders.
Education plays a central role in the BTD2 project, empowering Bougainvilleans to use knowledge they already possess, towards the right direction. Participants describe the project as a transformative educational experience, shaping a smarter and more informed audience. The dialogues serve as a powerful tool to address fears, dispel ignorance, and guide community reflections and actions during the transition period. By providing information and fostering critical thinking, the project aims to alleviate feelings of unease and powerlessness linked to a lack of awareness.
The dialogues within the BTD2 project focus on income generation and economic development as essential components for a successful transition to independence. Participants recognize the potential wealth within Bougainville and the importance of utilizing existing strengths. Through discussions, the dialogues inspire the exploration of income-generating ideas, encouraging individual, family, and community-level initiatives. Furthermore, the project highlights the significance of community building activities, such as sports and music, along with the role of communal gathering spaces in fostering cohesion and exchange.
A primary and important aspect of PaCSIA’s work is to provide support and education to community leaders, enabling them to acquire transferable leadership skills and strengthen their positions. Leaders express the importance of the project in enhancing their legitimacy within the community, especially in the absence of official communication channels. The dialogues have a normalizing effect on community interactions after the crisis, allowing leaders to engage in inclusive conversations and restore traditional ways of peaceful communication. Moreover, the project empowers women, recognizing their rights and promoting gender equality. Women feel included, empowered, and valued, with the project emphasizing the positive impact of men’s active participation in family well-being and there is almost equal participation numbers.
The BTD2 project has instilled a sense of ownership, empowerment, and healing within the Bougainville community. By creating spaces for dialogue and breaking down barriers created by past crises, the project has facilitated a rediscovery of cooperative work and collaboration. The dialogues, complemented by the Wokabaut Senis participatory videos, have inspired individuals and communities alike, showcasing local initiatives for economic development, conflict resolution, and the celebration of Bougainville’s art and craftsmanship.
The Bougainville Transition Dialogues Phase 2 (BTD2) project stands as a testament to the power of dialogue, education, and community engagement in shaping a peaceful and sustainable future for Bougainville and PaCSIA is privileged to be a part of this story. By empowering individuals, fostering economic development, supporting community leaders, and promoting gender equality, the project has made significant strides towards a holistic political vision. The transformative impact of the BTD2 project is evident in the positive changes experienced by the Bougainville community, as they work together towards a more developed and united Bougainville, guided by the vision and aspirations of its people.
For more information on the impact of our project, please watch our project evaluation video: