Conservation International Makes $3 Million Pledge to the Micronesia Challenge

3/15/2012

CI to support the development of the Micronesia Challenge to preserve the natural resources that are crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods in this region.

Guam — At the annual meeting of the CEOs of Micronesia, Conservation International (CI) confirmed its $3 million (US) pledge to support the Micronesia Challenge, and provided $350,000 to the Republic of the Marshall Islands as the first stage of a six-year investment aimed at strengthening protected area networks in Micronesia.

This commitment reflects Conservation International's support for the continued development of sustainable financing for protected areas in Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands via the Micronesia Challenge. Through the Challenge these countries, plus the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, have undertaken to protect 30 percent of their coastal resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources by 2020.

In recognition of this ground-breaking initiative, Conservation International pledged $3 million toward an endowment to sustainably finance the Challenge. The Nature Conservancy has already pledged an additional $3 million, and in 2010 the Global Environment Facility approved a $6 million regional grant to help meet funding requirements. As part of these agreements, Micronesia Challenge member states Palau, FSM, and RMI committed to matching pledged funds 2:1, making substantial progress to establish protected areas networks guided by standards set forth in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), and developing local income generating mechanisms to fund continuing conservation activities under the Micronesia Challenge.

To mark the occasion a $350,000 cheque was handed to Hon. Tony DeBrum, Vice-President of the Marshall Islands, by Mike Donoghue, the Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Programme for Conservation International, as the initial payment to the Marshall Islands. A further $650,000 will be provided to the Marshall Islands over the next 18 months, to strengthen a Trust Fund housed at the Micronesia Conservation Trust, which will provide an ongoing source of revenue for activities conducted under the Micronesia Challenge.

The Micronesia Challenge has inspired similar large-scale regional initiatives across the globe, including the Caribbean Challenge, the Coral Triangle Initiative, and the newly launched Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge.

From 2014-2018, Conservation International will contribute an additional $2 million to similar Trust Funds that have been established by FSM and Palau.

"Conservation International congratulates the President of the Marshall Islands and the leaders of Micronesia on the remarkable progress the Micronesia Challenge has made in recent years towards achieving its ambitious goals. The success of the Challenge provides a global model for international collaboration in island conservation," Mike Donoghue said.

According to His Excellency President Christopher Loeak, "The unique culture and way of life of the Marshall Islanders has developed in harmony with our natural environment over thousands of years. The Micronesia Challenge is changing the face of biodiversity conservation across the Marshall Islands and indeed across the world."

"Conservation International has had a long history of support for conservation projects in Micronesia, and this 6-year commitment represents our most significant investment to date," Mr Donoghue said. "Besides our commitment to the Micronesia Challenge in the Marshall Islands, Palau and FSM, CI is also devoting significant resources to protected area development across the Pacific Islands region as part of the Pacific Oceanscape. We see the Micronesia Challenge and the Pacific Oceanscape as complementary vehicles for the conservation and sustainable management of living marine resources in the Pacific Ocean. We will also continue to support individual projects connected with marine conservation in Micronesia, with a special focus on the region's ocean voyagers — the sharks, turtles and whales."

The Pacific Oceanscape has been mandated by all the governments in the region, and includes the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in Kiribati (the world's second-largest marine protected area), and the Cook Islands Marine Park, currently in development, which will become the world's largest marine park when it is designated later this year.

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For more information, contact:

Emmeline Johansen, Asia Pacific Communications Manager, Conservation International
mobile +68 92 968 872/ email: e.johansen@conservation.org

Michael Donoghue, Executive Director, Pacific Islands Programme, Conservation International
mobile (+685) 777 2495/ email: mdonoghue@conservation.org

Yumi Crisostomo, Micronesia Challenge Steering Committee representative for RMI
(Tel: +692 625 7944)/ email: yumiko.crisostomo@gmail.com

Note to editors:

Conservation International (CI) — Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI has headquarters in the Washington, DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 25 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @ConservationOrg.

The Micronesia Challenge (MC) — The Micronesia Challenge is a shared commitment to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. This ambitious challenge far exceeds current goals set by international conventions and treaties, which call for countries to conserve 10% of terrestrial and marine resources by 2010 and 2012 respectively. The challenge also emphasizes the need for Micronesian leaders to work together at the regional level to confront environmental and sustainable development issues, in a rapidly changing world. http://micronesiachallenge.org