By Hary Razafindsionana
[Ngerulmud, Palau] In 2006 during the sidelines of the eighth conference of parties on Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD) a significant milestone was achieved by Micronesian jurisdictions during a high level event hosted by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA).
The leaders of the five Micronesian jurisdictions namely, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), as well as the US Territory of Guam and the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) came together and launched the Micronesian Challenge.
The Micronesian Challenge geographic jurisdiction [Image: CC-TNC]
Envisaged in the Micronesian Challenge by these three countries and two territories was a solid commitment to conserve 20 per cent of terrestrial and 30 per cent of near shore marine habitat by 2020.
To fulfill these commitments the five leaders established a financing mechanism run under the Micronesia Challenge Endowment. As of 2015 the endowment which is hosted by the Micronesia Conservation Trust had some $17million and is now targeting some $56 million by 2020. The Micronesia Conservation Trust is boosted by experts in climate adaptation, conservation financing and sustainable livelihoods. It is the first regional trust of its kind. In a bid to shore up the trust fund the countries and territories of the Micronesia Challenge have generated financing to the Endowment and support conservation activities. Among the newer and smarter financing mechanisms adopted include the Palau Green Fee which is a departure fee that supports state protected areas and conservation groups; tuna licensing fees, and local endowments.
In 2016 during one of the key plenary sessions of the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress, the Micronesian Challenge celebrated its 10th anniversary in style by showcasing some of its extra-ordinary achievements.
“Ten years of collective effort and action to protect the extraordinary biological diversity found in our region of the world. Under the Micronesia Challenge, we have come together to create and improve more than 150 protected areas, strengthen management and networks and to share our experiences and lessons across the region.” Hersey Kyota, Palau’s ambassador to the US said on the anniversary date. “As we now work to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and build a resilient future for our island and global economies, the framework of the Micronesia Challenge is an example to the world of how to motivate local and national action toward long-term goals. It is a model that can be expanded to motivate action toward broader sustainability goals. Established financing mechanisms such as the Micronesia Conservation Trust can also be adapted to more rapid channel sustainability and climate change financing to achieve multiple goals.”
Hersey Kyota in the middle, Palau’s ambassador to the US
The Micronesia Challenge has inspired other similar initiatives across the world. These include, the Caribbean Challenge Initiative and Hawaii’s own Aloha+Challenge.