COP21: ‘Ocean Challenges’ Provide a Path Forward

Visitor snorkeling over coral reef off Restoff Island in Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Godfrey © 2008 The Nature Conservancy
Visitor snorkeling over coral reef off Restoff Island in Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

By Laura Whitfield, Coral Triangle Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy

Over the past two weeks in Paris, world leaders came together to work out a global agreement on climate change at COP21. People were optimistic that Paris would be different than Copenhagen and that countries would come determined to bring and share their best efforts and examples of effective action against climate change.

On December 3rd, The Nature Conservancy and the Global Island Partnership co-hosted an event that brought together four of the best examples of how countries are working together to achieve positive change.

These are the ‘Oceans Challenges’ – so called because they involve countries ‘challenging’ one another to improve marine and coastal resource management, and in-so doing, building resilience to climate change.

The first of these Oceans Challenges was the Micronesia Challenge, initiated by President of Palau Tommy Remengesau in 2007, which connected five Micronesian jurisdictions. It was created in recognition of the dependence of these places and people upon the integrity of their marine ecosystems, and the fact that truly effective management of these resources could not be achieved through isolated action alone. Collaboration would be necessary to adequately address trans-boundary issues like over-fishing and climate change.

The Micronesia Challenge then went on to inspire the establishment of three similar models in very different parts of the world: the Coral Triangle Initiative that links six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste) in Asia Pacific, the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, and most recently, the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge.

Local fishermen in outrigger canoes along the coastal waters near Deer Village. Deer Village at Kofiau, part of the Raja —> Read More