$100 Million Proposed to Protect Island Biodiversity; Six Million for Micronesia Challenge
� Conservation International (CI) and The Nature Conservancy applaud the Global Environment Facility (GEF) proposal to increase funding to help Pacific islands nations cope with climate change and promote sustainable development through conservation and sound natural resource management.
Part of that proposal is $6 million directed for the Micronesia Challenge, a landmark conservation initiative in the Northern Pacific to effectively conserve 30 percent of marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources by 2020.
In a meeting with three Micronesian leaders, the GEF proposed committing $6 million in funds, matching $6 million pledged jointly by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, to provide long-term funding for the Micronesian Challenge. The leaders and their partners are working to secure a total of $18 million for sustainable financing for the first phase of the Challenge.
During this week�s meetings with GEF, President Remengesau from Palau, President Note from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Vice President Killion from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) together highlighted the importance of the Micronesia Challenge in ensuring both sustainable development for their countries and the preservation of traditional cultures. The leaders were in Washington DC for the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders.
�The GEF�s proposed $100 million commitment to island conservation sends a clear message to the rest of the world that large-scale conservation is critical and will be supported by the international community,� said Steve McCormick, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. �The proposed funding for the Micronesia Challenge and the remarkable leadership demonstrated by these governments will help ensure that these unique islands and their rich reefs and other ecosystems are protected, allowing the people who inhabit this �continent� of tiny islands and atolls to continue to live in harmony with nature as they have for countless generations.�
�We commend Monique Barbut, the GEF chief executive officer and chairperson, for this decisive step to protect such unique and crucial biodiversity,� said Peter Seligmann, the chairman and CEO of Conservation International. �This proposal demonstrates the full engagement of the GEF in supporting the visionary leadership in Micronesia and understanding the connectivity between human well-being, biodiversity and climate change.�
The Micronesia Challenge is a collaborative conservation effort of these three island governments with two U.S. jurisdictions � the Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands � encompassing more than 6.7 million square kilometers (2.6 million square miles) of ocean. The Challenge will help protect at least 66 threatened species, four percent of the global total reef area and 58 percent of all known coral species. Micronesian waters are also home to the world�s largest tuna fishery and more than 1,300 species of reef fish, which are important island food sources.
Throughout Micronesia, the majority of people living on these small islands depend on natural resources for their food, livelihoods, traditional cultures and hopes for future long-term economic prosperity. According to President Remengesau, �The Micronesia Challenge is our effort to ensure a better life for our children and ensure that our cultural pasts will not be forgotten in light of the development challenges that we face today.�
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.
The Micronesia Challenge is a collective commitment by the Heads of Government of five Micronesian jurisdictions � the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the United States Territory of Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas � to effectively conserve at least 30% of their marine and 20% of their forest environments by 2020. It was announced to the international community in March 2006 at the 8th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity.