Conservation International Completes a $3 Million Investment Focused on Safeguarding 6.7 Million Square Kilometers of the Pacific Ocean

Digital Journal:

Monday, 28 July 2014

At the Pacific Oceanscape Leaders Reception, the day before the 45th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) begins, Conservation International (CI), the leading global organization that focuses on the links between development and the environment to benefit human well-being, provided the final investment toward its endowment to sustainably finance the Micronesia Challenge (MC).

Established in 2006, the Micronesia Challenge aims to sustain the biodiversity of Micronesia in order to ensure a healthy future for its people, protect its unique island cultures and sustain the livelihoods of its island communities. The overall goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30 percent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

GregStone, CI Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President of The Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans, presented the President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., and President of the Federated States of Micronesia, H.E. Emanuel Mori each with a cheque of US$1 million. This follows CI's completion of its US$1 million contribution to the Republic of the Marshall Islands last year.

Environmental threats such as deforestation, unsustainable fishing practices, invasive species and climate change have degraded the natural resources of Micronesia. A vast Pacific region comprised of over 2,000 islands with an ocean area over twice the size of India (6.7 million square kilometres), the Challenge represents more than 20% of the Pacific Island region and 5% of the largest ocean in the world.

The Micronesia Challenge funding was made possible via CI's Global Conservation Fund (GCF). CI-New Zealand and Pacific Islands Executive Director Sue Taei reaffirmed the importance of sustainable financing for such initiatives. "This investment provides important financing for protected area networks that have significant running costs to ensure that they are effectively safeguarded, that local communities benefit from them and that their inherent value is maintained in perpetuity."

Taei further highlighted the link of the Pacific Oceanscape, an initiative by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to foster ocean stewardship and integrated management, and CI's investment in the Micronesia Challenge. "The Micronesia Challenge is a significant part of the Pacific Oceanscape framework. The Challenge has inspired other bold ocean management initiatives including the Caribbean Challenge, the Coral Triangle Initiative, and the newly launched Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge. Such commitments represent a sea change in ocean conservation -- one that will help provide food and livelihoods for people in the region and around the world."

Micronesia contains some of the richest and diverse marine and terrestrial resources found anywhere on Earth. This natural capital sustains the livelihoods for nearly 500,000 locals, who are traditional stewards of their lands and waters. The Challenge protects more than 1,000 species of reef fish, 85 bird species and 1,400 kinds of plants. It also safeguards more than 480 coral species – 60 percent of all known species of coral.

The annual net benefits from coral reefs to the Pacific, in terms of fisheries, tourism, coastal protection and biodiversity, has been estimated by the Micronesia Challenge at US$2 billion, and approximately US$800 million worth of benefits annually may be distributed across Micronesia.

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