The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International (CI) committed US$6 million toward conservation across Micronesia, a region in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Hawaii to the Philippines. The pledge was a direct response to commitments by six Micronesian nations and territories to protect a total combined marine and terrestrial area of almost 200,000 hectares, twice the size of Portugal.
The financial support by two of the world's leading conservation organizations will help these islands establish protected areas across this region of incredibly diverse tropical marine life and highly endangered terrestrial biodiversity. The US$6 million pledge is designed to generate matching funds from other financing sources including donor countries, the Global Environment Facility or regional finance mechanisms like the Asian Development Bank. The match, when fulfilled, will result in a total of US$18 million directed to protected areas and conservation across Micronesia.
"Our pledge is inspired by the leadership shown by Micronesian islands in committing to the establishment of protected areas," said Steve McCormick, President of The Nature Conservancy, referring to the Micronesia Challenge to protect 30 percent of near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources on their islands by 2020. "We now challenge others governments, funders, communities and NGOs to join this rising tide and support these islands as they strive to protect the natural resources on which they depend. We encourage other nations to make similar commitments and when they do The Nature Conservancy will be there to help."
"We are delighted by this commitment made by the governments of this region, which is part of the globally very important Polynesia-Micronesia biodiversity hotspot," said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier. "We hope that the leadership shown by President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. and his fellow heads-of-state will inspire further action to conserve biodiversity, such as the Republic of Kiribati's decision to protect the incredible Phoenix Islands, one of the largest and most pristine reef systems on Earth. We must work together to prevent invasive species from destroying endangered biodiversity in this part of the world."
President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. of Palau hosted the ministerial-level dinner and commended both organizations on their efforts: "The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International are demonstrating the kind of partnership and catalytic action that we hoped our actions would create," he said. "These kinds of pledges from the international community, coupled with tangible community, state and national commitments to conservation, are critical ingredients to achieving our national and global protected area goals."
The Micronesia Challenge includes Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The ministerial event of island leaders and supporters was part of the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is addressing island biodiversity. The CBD is expected to adopt a Program of Work that will lay out guidance for island nations and nations with islands for integrated conservation and management of their vital natural resources.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is an international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 47 million hectares in Latin America, North America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at www.nature.org for more information.