In 2006, in the midst of increasing global threats such as climate change, the drastic decline of biodiversity and the extreme vulnerability of small island nations, Heads of Government across Micronesia challenged not only themselves but also the international community, to step up and exceed the conservation targets set by international conventions and treaties.
Together the leaders of the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, U.S. Territory of Guam and U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) came together and committed to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020. This commitment became known as the Micronesia Challenge.
The Micronesia Challenge spans more than 20% of the Pacific Island region and 5% of the world’s largest ocean, encompassing an enormous, invaluable richness of biological and cultural diversity. Importantly, it emphasizes the connectivity of the region and the need to address problems across borders, bringing together nearly 650,000 people from over 2,000 islands and five political jurisdictions in their commitment to conserve the region’s life-sustaining natural systems for future generations.
Its innovative model calls on leaders at the highest political level, public and private sectors as well as local communities to collaborate in promoting island conservation and sustainable livelihoods. This collaboration is facilitated at all levels, from the annual review process integrated into the Micronesia Chief Executive Summit, to the tracking of regional indicators, sharing of tools, experiences, techniques and sustainable financing mechanisms between jurisdictions through the meetings of the Steering Committee, a series of MC Measures Working Group meetings and support from jurisdictional partners1. Today, the Challenge has grown into a network supported by over 50 partners globally and has seen considerable progress in an immensely complex environment.
The Micronesia Challenge is a bright spot in how heads of government can come together to make visionary, long-term commitments. It is a bright spot at the regional level that has seen significant levels of financial resources being committed to island-led solutions. has also since inspired similar regional initiatives in the Caribbean, Western Indian Ocean and Hawai’i through the Global Island Partnership.
The Global Island Partnership promotes action for island conservation and sustainable livelihoods through inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and facilitating collaboration. UNEP is a proud participant of GLISPA as we work together to take bold steps toward a resilient and sustainable future for our planet.