STUDENTS from Tanapag Middle School’s Micronesia Challenge Club donated $1,000 of their club funds to the CNMI Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund on Thursday to help fulfill the commonwealth’s $2 million endowment fund commitment.
Recognizing the importance of conserving the islands’ natural resources, the donation is the students’ way of showing their support for the Micronesia Challenge.
The check was presented by the students to former Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente, the CNMI board member for the Micronesia Conservation Trust, and Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres.
The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment signed in 2006 by the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam and the CNMI to preserve the natural resources crucial to the survival of Pacific traditions, cultures and livelihood.
The challenge is to conserve at least 30 percent of the near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.
The jurisdictions are committed to give an endowment to the Micronesia Challenge.
The CNMI’s commitment is $2 million which it has not yet fulfilled.
When the students of Tanapag Middle School who are members of the Micronesia Challenge Club learned of this unfulfilled commitment, they started to raise funds and decided to donate $1,000 to the Micronesia Endowment Fund.
Now, the CNMI has contributed some while Guam still has yet to do so, Variety was told.
As of June 30, 2016, Palau had already shared $8,730,045.77; the FSM, $4,776,846.12; and the Marshall Islands, $3,544,280.53.
The Tanapag students formed the Micronesia Challenge Club in Oct. 2015 through the help and assistance of Kodep Uludong.
The students conducted multiple beach cleanups from Tanapag north to Paupau beach, and committed to keep them clean through the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality’s adopt-a-beach program.
The purpose of the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund is to provide a sustained funding source for conservation projects whether executed by the CNMI’s various natural resource management agencies or by non-government organizations or by community groups in need of funding to execute conservation actions and management for the islands’ natural resources.
Rep. Angel Demapan has introduced House Bill 19-105 which proposes to allow the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to develop a system for the assessment of fees for nonresidents visiting Marine Protected Areas. Under the bill, 10 percent of the proceeds will be allotted to the Micronesia Challenge to fulfill the CNMI’s endowment commitment.
The bill is still pending in the Senate.
By the time the CNMI endowment reaches $2 million, the bill stated, DLNR will have collected $18 million in fees and all fees collected will go to the department.
Fran Castro, Micronesia Challenge Steering Committee member and CNMI point of contact, said the $1,000 donation from the Tanapag students will be forwarded to the Micronesia Conservation Trust for the creation of the CNMI Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund.
Former Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente commended the students for their effort, saying their act will be remembered.