Micronesia Challenge reaches milestone year

Apia-based Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [S.P.R.E.P.] has praised Micronesian states Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau and Northern Marianas for continuing to set the benchmark in sustainable leadership.

The head of the regional organisation, Leota Kosi Latu, said this when congratulating the five states’ leaders for their vision close to 15 years ago to take leadership in sustainability.

“This commitment from Micronesia and the hard work of our five islands has led to immense benefits for their people and our environment as a whole,” he said in a statement issued by the regional organisation.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of the Micronesia Challenge, led by five island countries and territories within our S.P.R.E.P. membership. 

“We look forward to being part of the journey with Micronesia as we enter the next phase of the Micronesia Challenge and all the opportunities this will bring for our planet. Malo lava Micronesia Challenge! Onwards and upwards!”

Close to 14 years ago, the leaders of the five island nations committed to the Micronesia Challenge. It was an agreement to effectively conserve at least 30 per cent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 per cent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by this year.

The Micronesia Challenge is a globally relevant example of what can be achieved by setting ambitious, long-term goals supported by strong partnerships for significant impact.

Speaking during the opening of the 2020 Virtual Island Summit early last month, the FSM President, David Panuelo, said: “A better world is not something we ask for. A better world is something we build. We define a better world through consensus, with a foundation of empathy and love for other human beings. 

“We construct a better world by acknowledging that we are who we choose to be, and then choosing to take responsibility for both ourselves and our communities.”

Since 2006, the Micronesia Challenge has leveraged US$82 million for conservation efforts and placed over 70 new areas under conservation across all jurisdictions. There has also been an improvement in science-to-management decision-making with 20 new fisheries management policies enacted based on marine data.

Over 95 college certificates, degrees and internships for youth and staff have been achieved through support of the Micronesia Challenge which has worked towards building the capacity of people in local communities.

The Micronesian region has also standardised marine and terrestrial monitoring protocols and developed region-wide databases through the creation of three measures groups (marine, terrestrial, and socioeconomic).

Mr Panuelo added: “More than 3,000 people have been trained in management, planning, marine and socioeconomic monitoring, climate change adaptation, communications and behavior change, and/or enforcement. All told, we are protecting more than 1,300 species of fish and more than 480 species of coral.”

As she presented at the 2020 Island Innovation Virtual Island Summit, Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero of Guam stated: “If the issues of global warming and sustainability have taught us anything, it is that there are very few areas of the world that are not somehow connected with other areas.”

“We as human beings thrive on interconnectivity. It is how we trade and negotiate, how we work out our differences, how we help each other, and how we benefit from each other’s knowledge, consideration, and generosity.

“We know that as an island community, we must act now in order to sustain and thrive, and leave our grandchildren, great grandchildren and future generations with an island that is as beautiful and abundant as the one we inherited from our ancestors.”

While this phase of the Micronesia Challenge has seen commitments achieved by 2020, it has also opened the door to greater commitments and a stronger, united vision ahead for Micronesia, having seen the benefits through the many successes.

The five islands jurisdictions of the Micronesia Challenge will continue to work together, strengthening partnerships to lay down an even bigger challenge during the Ocean Conference in December this year which will be hosted by Palau.

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