Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Polynesia, Melanesia challenged

The Pacific Voyage Media Team, 27 October, Nagoya Japan -

 L - R Kate Brown, Willy Kostka, Robert Weary, Jason Spensely
“There is nothing to stop Polynesia or Melanesia doing exactly the same thing working together with Micronesia on a similar type of initiative. It’s really going to come from within the countries themselves” - Kate Brown Coordinator Global Island Partnership
The Micronesian Challenge is a shining example of a growing movement around the world to protect marine resources, vital to everyday life.  And Micronesia’s friends in the South Pacific, Polynesians and Melanesians, have been invited to join.

Speaking during a press conference at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in Nagoya, Japan, Willy Kostka, of the Micronesia Conservation Trust, said there has been some interest from Polynesia, especially Samoa.

“We have provided information about the Micronesian Challenge to our colleagues in the South,” he said.

“I think there is interest in Samoa and American Samoa to do what’s called the two Samoa initiative and one of the things we’re going to be doing as part of our work with the Pacific islands management protected community is to increase that interest by providing more information.”

Mr Kostka said the is a grant available which will allow for the exchange of information between the two Samoas and the Micronesia region so they can start the two Samoa initiative.

At the press conference, achievements for the Micronesian and Caribbean Challenges were highlighted. They include:
• Recognition of the Caribbean Challenge’s Caribbean Biodiversity Fund, a US$40 million regional endowment created as part of the 8 country Caribbean Challenge;
• The leadership, financing and partnerships for implementation which have seen significant progress since 2006 in the Micronesia Challenge, a five country protected areas and livelihoods commitment.
• Efforts towards a Western Indian Ocean Partnership at COP 10 involving the East Coast of African and the islands of the Western Indian Ocean.

Mr Kostka said the Micronesian Challenge was inspired by Fiji’s declaration that 25 per cent of their marine resources would come under effective management. 

“But because Fiji was just one nation, maybe they didn’t get as much exposure,” he said. “Perhaps if they had collaborated with nations of the South Pacific in Polynesia and Melanesia, they could get more profile for their initiatives there.”

Kate Brown, Coordinator of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), said the Micronesian and Caribbean challenges have political leadership and momentum behind them. This has come about because “political leaders have really realised that this is really important particularly in terms of livelihoods in their countries.

“So it’s much, much bigger than programmes or projects that currently happen between countries.  There is nothing to stop Polynesia or Melanesia doing exactly the same thing working together with Micronesia on a similar type of initiative. It’s really going to come from within the countries themselves.”

Rob Weary, of the Nature Conservancy, Caribbean Programme, agrees.
 “The countries have stepped forward and identified what their financial needs are to meet these goals that they have set for themselves,” he said.  “They have gone beyond what the initial CBD goal was of 10 percent realising their livelihoods depend on it.”

Jason Spensley, Life Web programme officer, applauded the initiatives.
“One of the most exciting things about these challenges is the fact these aren’t just relatively isolated challenges in corners of the world but this really is increasingly becoming a movement,” he said.

“There is a challenge in the Indian Ocean, Western Africa is talking about a challenge, so this is a movement we truly see as catalyzing the implementation of the convention in general and I think it is truly and inspirational prospect for the convention.”

The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands to preserve the natural resources that are crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods.

The overall goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30 per cent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 per cent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.  The challenge exceeds goals which call for countries to conserve 10 per cent of terrestrial and marine resources.

The Micronesian Challenge was celebrated during an Island Fiesta at the Asahi Tent Expo Area last night, at the Nagoya Congress Centre. The event was attended by Pacific leaders at COP 10.

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