Micronesia Challenge: A Regional Commitment for Protected Area Management

Palau International Coral Reef Center
Published: 09 August 2016
Last edited: 05 October 2020
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The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment by the five Micronesian countries and territories, and the partners of their regional support teams to preserve the natural resources that are crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihoods. The overall goal of the Challenge is to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.


Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Coastal and marine spatial management
Protected area management planning
Other theme
political commitment
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Sea level rise
Shift of seasons
Storm surges
Tropical cyclones / Typhoons
Tsunami/tidal wave
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected areas
Other targets
SDGs, especially goals 12, 13, 14, 15, and 17


Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands


Micronesia’s islands are exemplary microcosms for conservation and resilience, with some habitats and natural communities found nowhere else on Earth. Yet these features also make them especially vulnerable to environmental threats such as unsustainable fishing practices, invasive species and deforestation - all compounded by climate change.


  • Communities and households in Micronesia who depend on coastal, marine and terrestrial resources for their livelihoods
  • Big ocean initiatives in other regions (WIOCC, CCI, CTI, Aloha+)

How do the building blocks interact?

The three building blocks of high level political commitment, strong partnerships, and sustainable financing are most powerful when they act together. When communities want to expand or create new protected areas, they generally turn to local conservation organizations for technical assistance. In the Micronesia Challenge, these local organizations are joined together in a regional network share lessons about improving effectiveness, and motivate each other to rise to the ambitious challenge their political leaders have committed to. They are also connected to international partners and donors that help them and the communities they serve to build and improve innovative and sustainable financing strategies that ensure conservation remains economically viable, even in the face of economic pressures of exploitation. Not only local organizations, but also individual volunteer community conservation officers become connected across the region through MC partners such as the LMMA Network (Locally Managed Marine Areas Network). The continuous commitment of political leaders from all five Micronesian jurisdictions enables these strong networks and partnerships and actively promotes sustainable financing for conservation.


1. More Area Under Effective Conservation: The MC helped to establish or strengthen 150 conservation areas. Micronesia is on track for its 2020 goals of protecting 30% of marine and 20% of terrestrial resources (more than half of these area targets have already been achieved). The MC Measures Working Group also developed the Managed and Protected Area Management Effectiveness (MPAME)Tool. Communities use this tool to improve their management by comparing and keeping track of PA effectiveness across 12 categories based on data from long term monitoring programs. 2. Sustainable Financing: Effective conservation requires a range of financing mechanisms at the local and national level, such as Green Fees, tourism fees or tuna licensing fees. In addition, an endowment of $56 million is being created to generate additional annual funds necessary to support management activities. As of 2019, the endowment has reached nearly $20million. 3. Replication in other Regions: Since 2006, the Micronesia Challenge has proven to be a successful and scalable solution. The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) followed its lead in 2008, the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge (WIOCC) in 2012 and the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) in 2013.


When one island becomes two – Ben’s Story In 2005, Ben Namakin stood on Dekehtikin, his favorite small atoll island off Pohnpei, FSM, and couldn’t believe his eyes. The island that he used to picnic on and snorkel around as a high school student with his friends had been split in two, the ocean now flowing over what was once dry land, washing away precious soil and sand with every wave. For Ben, the looming specter of climate change now had a new and much more personal meaning. “Yes, it might be natural,” says Namakin, “but maybe people have something to do with it. I’m just very concerned about future generations.” Since then, the soft-spoken 28-year-old has been determined to share his experiences and the stories of other Pacific Islanders with anyone who will listen, and he has been quite successful in garnering both local and international attention to his activities and concerns. Namakin decided to make a video about Dekehtikin and submitted it to Greenpeace, who pounced on it. Before he knew it, he was in Montreal, Canada participating in the UN Climate Change Conference as the lone youth delegate from the Pacific Islands. After traveling to several international high profile conferences, Namakin says his biggest frustration is with the international negotiating process and the general lack of action. He says that while everyone talks and acts positive, rarely does something concrete emerge out of those meetings. Resigned to the slow pace of international climate negotiations, he prefers to focus on where he can help make a more immediate difference with the vulnerable communities in Micronesia. The creation and implementation of the Micronesia Challenge has been extremely helpful to Namakin. “I use it as a support to my campaign on climate change,” he says. “I look at the international community and I say ‘you big countries aren’t doing anything, but yet our leaders from these small coral countries have signed this agreement and are trying to save as our resources and reduce our vulnerability.’ The MC shows the world that we are concerned about the problems and we’re trying to solve it on our own.” He believes initiatives like the Micronesia Challenge lead by example and show that countries vulnerable to climate change can exert their own self-determination when it comes to mitigating the effects of rising sea levels and changing climate patterns. For the full story, see http://mc.aubs.biz/success.php

Contributed by

Geraldine Datuin Micronesia Challenge Regional Office (MCRO)

Other contributors

Micronesia Challenge Regional Office