On 2 June His Excellency President Mori addressed delegates at the opening of the 1st Meeting of the Micronesia Challenge Technical and Communications Working Groups at the FSM national government conference centre at Palikir, Pohnpei.
Since 2006, when the Heads of Government from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the United States Territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, signed up to the Micronesia Challenge, a commitment to effectively conserve 30 percent of nearshore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020, work has been progressing to support the implementation of these ambitious goals.
President Mori urged the working groups, comprised of local and international technical experts, government officials and representatives of partners in the Micronesia Challenge to press ahead with their urgent work.
The meeting consisted of two working groups. One focused on effectiveness measures for the actions of the Micronesia Challenge, the other addressed communications support for achieving the goals of the Challenge.
President Mori noted that although the Micronesia Challenge was largely developed and has been nurtured by government and NGO officials since 2004, it is not a challenge to outsiders. The commitment it is a challenge that Micronesians have set for themselves to do the right thing to conserve their natural resources and way of life in the areas where they have legal control and capacity to so.
"Effective implementation of the Challenge requires that you go back to developing or reinforcing support at the grass-roots of each local community," said President Mori. He asked representatives from government agencies and conservation groups from the five jurisdictions to ensure that the goals for conservation of marine and terrestrial resources be developed with the communities affected, and that the indicators to measure the achievement of those goals be clear and relevant to those communities. President Mori noted that despite initiatives like the Micronesia Challenge, some citizens and political leaders are not yet heeding the call for conservation. With this,
President Mori made a personal commitment. "I really like to eat turtle but for the sake of conservation and the Micronesia Challenge, I challenge myself not to eat turtle anymore. Additionally, from today, I renounce eating fish that may have been 'dynamited'."
Over five days the Working Groups met to develop activities to drive the Challenge forward. The Technical Working Group developed a process for measuring the effectiveness of on the ground conservation activities using biological and social indicators for the marine and terrestrial resources. The Communication Working Group developed a regional communications plan to better engage with key partners for the Challenge and to improve coordination across all five jurisdictions.
During the week the Micronesia Challenge Steering Committee comprised of the five jurisdictional representatives or 'focal points' met and elected Mr Marion Henry as the new Chairperson of the Steering Committee. Other items discussed by the Committee included hiring a regional coordinator, updates from each jurisdictional focal point on their sustainable financing plans and development of a business plan for the Micronesia Challenge.
The Micronesia Challenge is a collective commitment by the Heads of Government of five Micronesian jurisdictions - the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the United States Territory of Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas - to effectively conserve at least 30% of their marine and 20% of their forest environments by 2020. It was announced to the international community in March 2006 at the 8th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity.