Friday, March 8, 2013

Islands and Partners strategize for next chapters of Global Island Partnership and Micronesia Challenge

Mr. Willy Kostka, Micronesia Conservation Trust, doing presentation on Micronesia Challenge

Washington, DC – Throughout Washington, DC and northern Virginia last week, Pacific islanders met with other islanders from the Caribbean and West Indian Ocean as well as representatives of United Nations Conventions Secretariats and non-governmental organizations with the aim of enhancing the Global Island Partnership, or GLISPA, and preparing for Phase 2 of the Micronesia Challenge.
The mission of GLISPA is to help island governments and organizations meet their goals with respect to conservation and sustainable livelihoods, such as commitments taken under the Micronesia Challenge. To this end, GLISPA has showcased the Micronesia Challenge at several high-level events, including at the Rio +20 conference, and Kate Brown, the Coordinator of GLISPA, frequently praises the Micronesia Challenge as the model for other regional conservation efforts.
Recognizing the value of being part of GLISPA’s efforts, Asterio Takesy, FSM Ambassador to the United States, and Willy Kostka, Executive Director of the Micronesia Conservation Trust, participated in the GLISPA Steering Committee meeting on February 19-20. Other participants included Elbuchel Sadang, Chief of Staff to President Tommy Remengesau of Palau; Ronny Jumeau, the Roving Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States Issues, the Seychelles; and Ketrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour of the British Virgin Islands.  Representatives from the Secretariat of the Convention for Biological Diversity and the Secretariat of Convention to Combat Desertification were also active participants in the meeting, which was hosted at times by three different conservation organizations, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Audubon Society.
GLISPA, which started as an experiment funded by TNC, IUCN and the Italian government, has proven successful but has exhausted its seed money. Thus, one of the purposes of the meeting was to discuss how to finance GLISPA’s core functions, and some early support came from the Co-Chairs Palau and the Seychelles in the form of $10,000/year pledges for three years and from the conservation organization Rare in the form of a donation of money and office space. In addition to discussing GLISPA finances, participants also developed strategies for achieving GLISPA’s substantive goals for 2013, which include combating invasive species, stimulating “blue-green” economic growth and accomplishing debt-for-adaptation swaps to finance ecosystem-based adaptation activities.
The GLISPA meeting concluded with a High-Level briefing consisting of a presentation about the Micronesia Challenge, made by Mr. Kostka, as well as a presentation made by Chipper Wichman of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawai’i about the Hawai’i Green Growth Initiative and a third presentation made by Deputy Premier Pickering about the upcoming Caribbean Challenge Summit. Among the diplomats who joined the group for the High Level segment were Winston Thompson, Ambassador from Fiji to the U.S., and Carlo Romeo, a Counselor from the Embassy of Italy to the U.S.
On Friday February 22, a smaller group convened in the afternoon to discuss Phase 2 of the Micronesia Challenge. Ambassador Takesy, Ambassador Hersey Kyota from Palau, Ambassador Charles Paul of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Mr. Kostka participated in the strategy session, which was facilitated by Trina Leberer of TNC and Jessica Robbins of GLISPA. The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment by FSM, RMI, 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 ambitious goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across the region of Micronesia by 2020. Substantial progress towards these conservation goals has been made since the inception of the Challenge in 2006 with the creation or strengthening of over 150 managed areas. These include a mangrove reserve in Pohnpei, a manta ray sanctuary in Yap and a shark sanctuary in Kosrae, among many other protected areas. In the long run, the Micronesia Challenge could facilitate creation of the largest shark sanctuary in the world.
Since most initial financial commitments have now been fulfilled, the parties can commence Phase 2 of the Challenge, which will focus on sustainable finance, specifically, increasing the current endowment of ~$12 million to $58 million. The formal release of remaining matching funds from the FSM to secure TNC’s final pledge to support the MC endowment is planned for the Pacific Islands Forum in RMI in September. The Micronesia Conservation Trust, which manages the MC endowment, is preparing for Phase 2 by publishing its business plan, working to set up a system to enable on-line donations, increasing circulation of the “One Micronesia” email newsletter, and spreading awareness through social marketing campaigns run by Rare Conservation.
For more information on the Micronesia Challenge please see  or contact Vanjie Lujan at
For more information on GLISPA, please see or contact Jessica Robbins at

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