Articles: Marshall Islands and Regional Leaders Join Forces in Energy, Environmental Issues
ENERGY: Leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector have signed an energy-policy agreement that maps out the path towards greater energy efficiency and security in the Marshall Islands.The Asian Development Bank say the Majuro Energy Declaration 2009 will provide valuable input into the RMI's National Energy Policy and Medium Term Energy Development Plan. The Marshall Islands spent about $US25 million on fuel imports for electricity generation in 2008, which was equivalent to nearly 20 per cent of the national budget.
COPRA: Marshall Islands copra makers nearly set a record with production in 2008, making it the second best year since records began being kept in 1951.According to statistics provided by the Tobolar Copra Processing Authority, 7,641 tons of copra was produced from January to December 2008.This was topped only in 1995, when 7,728 tons was processed by Tobolar.World market prices soared in 2008, with the price paid to producers in the Marshall Islands nearly doubling to 22 US cents per pound on the remote outer islands, and 23.5 cents in the capital, Majuro, where the processing plant is located.
FAOThe United Nations Food Agriculture Organisation says it is encouraging more Pacific states to manufacture their own flour from traditional root crops, instead of importing it. A company in Samoa, Natural Foods International Limited, is now exploring the possibility of producing flour for the domestic and international market. The FAO’s Food and Nutrition Officer in Apia, Dirk Schulz, says it’s an ideal product for Pacific countries to develop. He says certification shouldn’t be difficult given many staple crops are grown organically in the islands, and that root crops can be utilised in so many ways and turning them into flour is catching on.
WETLANDS: Palau, Fiji, Samoa and the Marshall Islands are celebrating World Wetlands Day this week. Five Pacific countries are signatories of the International Convention on Wetlands including Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Marshall Islands. Designated wetlands sites have been declared at Palau's Lake Ngardok Nature Reserve, Fiji's Upper Navua Conservation Area, and the Jaluit Atoll Conservation Area in the Marshalls. "The significant wetland types that we have really been focusing our efforts on are mangroves and coral reefs."
ENVIRONMENT: The retreat, which lasted from Jan. 26 to 30, was held at the former Pohnpei Agricultual & Trade School in the Madolenihmw municipality of Pohnpei. The purposes of having the retreat in a remote site were so that the participants could become immersed in the local culture and community and develop closer ties with one another.Environmental leaders from across the Micronesia region participated in the retreat. Representing government and non-government, managers and advocates, local and national levels, up-and-coming and veteran conservationists, the 20 participants hailed from the CNMI, Guam, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. One of the conservation challenges discussed by members this year was surviving climate change. Marine protected areas, like the recently established Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, were identified as a buffer to the effects of climate change. According to Marshall Islands Conservation Society executive director Steve Why, “Our contributions to climate change are small compared to what larger nations contribute, but due to our number of low-lying atolls, the effects of climate change will arrive sooner and be more severe in Micronesia than elsewhere on the globe.”
FISHING: A group of Pacific island nations have agreed to work together to formulate a plan aimed at seizing a larger portion of the Pacific region's $US3 billion tuna industry.Eight island nations, from Kiribati and the Marshall Islands in the east to Papua New Guinea in the west, are no longer satisfied with getting less than five per cent worth of the regional annual tuna harvest, and say they're unsatisfied that most of the current catch is taken from within their economic zones.