"Development funds provided by European Union to help raise capacity of NGOs in the nation."

May 16, 2007

The Kaselehlie Press

PALIKIR, Pohnpei - An agreement was reached on April 27 between the FSM national government and the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) utilizing a portion of environmental funds from the European Union's 9th European Development Fund (EDF9).

The EDF9 provides 9.4 million Euros to the FSM for 2007, 719,000 of which will be utilized for an environmental program known as the Conservation and Environmental Protection Programme (CEPP). The CEPP will be administered and implemented by MCT, a trust chartered in 2002 by the FSM, leading local environmental NGOs, and The Nature Conservancy to support environmental sustainability. MCT also provides funding and technical support to the Republic of the Marshal Islands, and Palau.

In a letter to the EU, Rose Nakanaga, the National Authorizing Officer for the FSM and Assistant Secretary of Investment Management and International Finance, called the agreement with the EU a "landmark accord" that is a big step in helping the FSM "realizing our sustainable development goals, as well as continue to build the capacity and livelihoods of our non-state actor sector and communities."

Assistant Secretary Nakanaga also noted that the FSM is pleased to be partnering with MCT in the implementation of the community focused project in the coming years because of its experience and technical ability in managing funds, and helping NGOs and community groups develop the skills to write proposals and reports.

The CEPP will focus on communities and community-led management initiatives and roles, a stipulation that the national government has supported in reaching an agreement with MCT to implement the program and disburse the funds to potential proponents, starting in May 2007. The funds will be primarily aimed toward raising the capacity of such groups to "formulate and deliver environment protection and conservation projects," according to the agreement reached by the EU and FSM.

Activities undertaken as part of the CEPP will be in line with several themes of the FSM's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, developed in 2002, including Theme 1: Ecosystem Management, and Theme 8: Human Resources and Institutional Development.

In many ways, it is the opening of a new chapter for the national government of the FSM, which has traditionally worked along government to government lines (national to state) in such matters. It follows the growing trend of internationalization and coordination between both government and non-government organizations (known also as non-state actors or NSAs) to assist communities in the region.

According to Willy Kostka, MCT Executive Director, the Trust will use the funds to serve as a "financing mechanism" for the vaunted and ambitious Micronesia Challenge, the implementation of the Nationwide Protected Areas Network and the NBSAP, all ongoing conservation schemes for the FSM.

"The European funds will allow us to turn these ideas into real initiatives that benefit our local communities," Kostka added.

The EU, in developing the CEPP since 1997, according to its' Financing Agreement with the FSM, said it realizes "the need for patient and sustained engagement with all community stakeholders over an extended period of time, and the need for the intervention to result in quick, demonstrable, successes, which serve to reinforce the value of joint community based action."

The Financing Agreement between the EU and the FSM marks the first time that the two federations have signed such an accord. It signifies a major step in terms of bilateral relations, trade, and support.