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Global Island Partnership features the Micronesia Challenge at Rio+20

By Kathleen Leewai, SPREP

21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - A representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mr. Tony Debrum, the Minister-in-Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, presented the challenges and successes of the Micronesia Challenge at a side event hosted by the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA).

The Micronesian Challenge is a commitment by the governments of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands to conserve at least 30% of near-shore marine resources and 20% of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

Mr. Debrum highlighted the challenges faced in bringing the three governments and territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas together to create the Micronesia Challenge, saying that within the sub region of Micronesia itself there are differences in language, culture, and types of governments.

Marshalls
 Mr. Tony Debrum, the Minister-in-Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands
 
"People think that we are all the same people, living in the same neighbourhood," he said.

"Despite this, I think in all the attempts to unify islands in this way, this has been the most successful."

The event opened with remarks from Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, the Seychelles Ambassador of Climate Change and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Issues, who stated that, in the islands, the discussions of sustainable development and biodiversity are one and the same.

"We cannot talk about development in islands communities without talking about oceans, and coral reefs, and fisheries, and marine tourism," said Ambassador Jumeau.

Agreeing with this point, Mr. Debrum disputed media reports that the Micronesia Challenge is missing the area of focus by not addressing the issues of public health and improving of social wellbeing.

"I want to add on to Ambassador Jumeau's remark earlier. We cannot separate these efforts as they are all the same thing to us."

Following Mr. Debrum's presentation were similar presentations on the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, and the West Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge, both of which cited the Micronesian Challenge as inspirations for their inception.

The theme of the event was "Securing the island future we want" and focused on highlighting the leadership of the island regions, as well as a discussion on debt-for-adaptation as a potential mechanism for financing and thoughts on investing in nature.
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