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Island nations commit to protect their futures

Communities, NGOs Applaud Leaders for Setting Significant Conservation Goals

Leaders from island nations around the world joined together last night during the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to announce significant conservation commitments to protect the future of islands. The President of Palau, H.E. Tommy Remengesau Jr., hosted the event, and with the support of leaders across Micronesia announced the Micronesia Challenge: to protect 30 percent of near-shore marine and 20 percent of terrestrial resources on islands by 2020.

Islands are home to more than 500 million people and represent one quarter of the nations of the world, 16 percent of the planet’s known plant species and more than half of the world’s tropical marine biodiversity. Thirty percent of the world’s coral reefs are severely damaged and, without immediate action 60 percent may be lost by 2030. Half of the species in the world that have become extinct have been island species. Without immediate action, islands face continued damage to species, biodiversity and human inhabitants’ way of life.

"We intend to be the first in the world to meet our CBD 10 percent target, and more," said President Remengesau, referring to the goal adopted by parties to the Convention to effectively conserve at least 10 percent of each of the world's ecological regions. "We have come to Curitiba for partnerships, at every level, that will strengthen our region's and our respective islands’ capacity to meet our conservation commitments."These commitments contribute to global targets such as those set forth at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and in the Millennium Development Goals, and recognize the vital importance of conservation and sustainable use of island biodiversity to the livelihoods of island communities.

"For the islands this is a new dimension on how to preserve our fragile reserves for future generations. Our traditional way of conserving has been reawakened through this global concern to protect our fragile resources," said Ratu Aisea Katonivere, Chief of the Macuata community in Fiji, a province of 100,000 people, and home of the world’s third largest barrier reef. "For us, in Fiji, this is about our survival. Our life."The announcements by Micronesia generated enthusiastic responses, including new conservation commitments and actions from Fiji, Indonesia, New Zealand and others. The Micronesia Challenge is a shared commitment by the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Territory of Guam. The event was co-sponsored by the Governments of Italy and the United Kingdom, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Conservation International, International Coral Reef Action Network, Palau Conservation Society, Conservation Society of Pohnpei, Micronesian Conservation Trust, IUCN, BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Island leaders gathered this week to address island biodiversity at the Eighth Conference of the Parties. The CBD is expected to adopt a Programme of Work that will lay out guidance for island nations and nations with islands for integrated conservation and management of their vital natural resources.

4th July 2014