Social media will be a key feature of this year's New Voices conference, which will be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The event, hosted by the Lowy Institute, begins on 22 October and will provide a platform for PNG's young leaders to discuss and debate the big issues affecting their nation and its place in the world.

As our closest closest neighbour, PNG is one of Australia's most important international partners and should be one of our top foreign policy priorities.

PNG New Voices brings together 80 business, government, civil society and media representatives from across the country to talk about the nation's economy, the changing role of civil society and media, the political power of social media and PNG's international choices and place in the Asian Century.

Papua New Guinea is undergoing a period of extraordinary transformation, politically, socially and economically. We hope PNG New Voices will play a role in shining a brighter spotlight on a country that Australia's senior elected officials need to pay far greater attention to, now and into the future.

To ensure debate is not limited to the conference venue we will encourage participants to use social media through the day with analysis and big ideas from each session posted on PNG Facebook discussion group Sharp Talk and on Twitter using the hashtag #PNGNewVoices. I encourage interested people to monitor and engage with us on social media for real-time updates on the event.

 PNG has limited resources to commit to a growing crop of both domestic and international challenges. In such an environment, PNG's thirst for new ideas and creative policy thinking has never been so great. A strong national discourse and a dynamic public discussion are not just the principal ingredients for good public policy – a robust debate also counteracts poorly constructed and ill-informed policy by ensuring that questions are asked and decisions are publicly contested. PNG New Voices will help support a strengthening of this public debate and facilitate new ideas into the policy realm.

There are few people better qualified to speak on and input into the current and looming challenges that PNG faces than those participating in next month's Lowy Institute New Voices conference. It is the younger generation that will wear the consequences of decisions made today by PNG's politicians, business people and government officials, so it is vital their opinions are heard and their ideas feed into both the debate and policy that will shape PNG's future place in the world.

 Photo by Flickr user Ikhlasul Amal.

PNG New Voices draft agenda.doc (95.00 kb)