July 21, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

Asterio Takesy, Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) was recently in the Federated States of Micronesia where he met with the national council on environment.

During an interview with Takesy, the KP learned that Takesy is the first FSM citizen to head SPREP. In addition, Takesy is the first from the Northern Region in the Pacific to head the regional inter-government organization, which is set up to look after the region's environment. Its members are 22 Pacific islands countries and territories, plus Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. He is a citizen of Chuuk State, Federated State of Micronesia.

According to Takesy, the organization includes all Pacific Countries including the FSM. The program provides information on environmentally sustainable development. SPREP assists member countries with advice, technical assistance and also negotiations on various international agreements dealing with international development and the environment.

Based on observations and studies, the organization points out that the major challenge for the FSM is climate change, waste, and conservation management on land as well as in the seas.

While on Pohnpei, Takesy highlighted for members of the Sustainable Development (SD) Council, SPREP's new approach to environment sustainability: A Strategic Plan and a Action Plan. An approach he said is inclusive of issues and inputs from the SPREP member countries.

According to Takesy, the 10-year Strategic Program has a focus that is more comprehensive and easily measures. He said SPREP aims to achieve these programs through the five-year regional Action Plan which sets out "the priorities of the region in terms of environmental threats, reporting, support for member countries and capacity building."

The two plans would be the guideline by which SPREP would provide assistance to its member countries.Director Takesy encouraged the Council to look to the guidelines in their ongoing efforts to ensure a viable and sustainable environment for the future development of the FSM. He told the Council that an implemental plan focused on the integrity of the environment would ensure sustainable development of the nation.

The success of the plan would, according to Takesy, depend on the commitment by the community, "unless and until a community is committed to the principles of sustainability," as outlined by the leaders and implementing agencies, it would be "virtually impossible" to achieve sustainability of the environment.

Takesy urged the Council to provide a completed profile of the FSM development plans to SPREP so that the program has a comprehensive idea of the FSM's various pockets of needs.

The Director concluded his briefing by encouraging more Micronesian citizens to be involved in the regional agencies. Takesy said that SPREP meets annually to consider environmental agenda, budget and to review progress of previous years. Members contribute to the program's budget and there are also contributions from donors regionally and internationally. The annual budget for the program is $7 million including $900,000 for the organization's projects. Total manpower for the organization is 72, coming from member countries and territories. Takesy is serving a renewable three-year term beginning in January 2003 and will be ending in January 2006.

He visited Pohnpei and stayed for several days, assisting in sustainable development and environmental issues. He left for Apia, Samoa, where he is stationed at the present on Sunday, July 10, 2005.