Monday, December 04, 2006

Beautify CNMI! takes on the Micronesian Challenge

The Micronesian Challenge seeks to effectively conserve 30 percent of near shore marine resources and 20 percent of forest resources by 2020.

The Challenge was first proposed by Palau President Tommy Remengasau Jr. and has been taken up by the leaders of the CNMI, Guam, Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The Saipan Tribune reported on the Micronesian Challenge in August 2006.

Beautify CNMI! officially took on the Micronesian Challenge today. Some of our partners from Division of Fish & Wildlife, Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resource Management Office, and the Acting Governor are in Palau this week meeting with the four other Micronesian nations to work out some of the details of the Challenge.

They are looking for answers to some of the following questions:

What is meant by Effective Conservation?
What uses will be allowed in Effectively Conserved areas?
How will we pay for Effective Conservation?
What is a near shore resource?
Does it include mangroves?
How far from the shore do you go?
How deep do you go?
How do you quantify 30%?
What is a forest resource?
Does a forest include wetlands?
How do you quantify 20%?
Are these areas interconnected?
How about endangered species?
How about migrating species?

The answers to these questions might seem simple, but we are trying to come up with a long term solution for sustaining our natural resources, the cornerstone of our economy. This will require among many things, laws, regulations, and enforcement, all which have to be very specific and very precise.

The discussion to find the answers to these questions will themselves undoubtedly lead to another round of questions. Other agenda items to be considered during this week's conference in Palau are:
  • Designating a regional body to coordinate the Challenge
  • Reviewing existing conservation strategies and plans in each nation's jurisdiction
  • Establishing specific, quantifiable targets
  • Establishing a process for regular review of the Micronesian Challenge's goals and accomplishments
Keep in mind that this is a long term Challenge. We have been mandated to have the goals of the Challenge accomplished by 2020. This project is going to take a considerable amount of planning and public input. Our goal over the next few months is to explain the Micronesian Challenge and to start the process of bringing the community together to find ways to make this Challenge a success.

Undoubtedly, all the nations involved in the Challenge will undergo administration changes, economic challenges, and any number of unforeseen events. The Challenge strives to rise above all that, to galvanize conservation efforts in all of Micronesia, in much the same way that Beautify CNMI! has galvanized environmental stewardship efforts in the CNMI.

That gives us 14 years to discuss, disagree, examine, and reexamine how we will make the Micronesian Challenge a success. When we succeed in this endeavor, Micronesia will find a place on the map as a world class success story for coral reef and forest conservation.

My challenge to you is to help make the CNMI the success story for Micronesian coral reef and forest conservation. Are you with me?

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