Palau received close to half a million dollars earlier this month from an investment fund established 10 years ago to support conservation work in US-affiliated islands. The Micronesian Challenge Endowment Fund will also be available to support protected areas in the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia once these nations adopt required legislation and national policies to implement what is known as a “protected area network” (PAN).
The Pohnpei-based Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT), which manages the endowment, requested its investment advisor, Raymond James, disburse $461,734 to the Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) Fund. This is a nearly 10 percent increase over the $435,362 Palau’s PAN Fund received in 2017.
By agreement with the Micronesian Conservation Trust, the Palau PAN Fund uses the funding to support its protected areas management, sustainable development and work plans for PAN sites. It also can fund necessary research and educational activities related to carrying out the PAN law.
“The amount withdrawn is based on a formula agreed to between the donors and the owners of the endowment in an Investment Policy Guidelines on the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund and is designed to ensure the value of the fund is maintained in perpetuity,” said MCT Executive Director Willy Kostka. In 2006, MCT was selected by the Chief Executives of Micronesia to serve as the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund financing mechanism, and has been managing the fund since its inception in 2008.
The fund was initiated with a $1 million grant from The Nature Conservancy and a $500,000 contribution from the Palau government. Subsequently, the Palau government, through its PAN Fund, and the Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands governments started contributing their own national funds to the endowment to match other donor funds from The Nature Conservancy ($3 million), Conservation International ($3 million) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the United Nations Environment Program ($5.1 million). As of December 31, 2017, the endowment fund had a value of $21.5 million, with Palau owning approximately half of the fund ($10,184,749) and with FSM and RMI owning $5,839,138 and $4,246,693, respectively.
For the FSM and RMI to start to receive earnings from the MC Endowment Fund, they need to put in place national policies and legislation that formally establish their protected areas networks, as well as the mechanisms for disbursement such as Palau has done with its PAN Fund. Kostka said both the FSM and RMI governments are working to put these program requirements in place so they can begin drawing down funds to support much-needed community-based site work within their countries. More information on the PAN program: www.micronesiachallenge.org.
Read more about this in the February 23, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.