Post COP21 - The real work is still yet to come

Micronesia Conservation Trust
The FSM and other small nations won big at the Paris UNFCCC COP21 when the larger, more developed countries agreed to the Paris Agreement which is pretty favorable to island nations such as ours. Our negotiators have been travelling around the world for years lobbying for more developed nations to assist us in fighting climate change, and it finally paid off. In the Paris Agreement, developed countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, they agreed to a separate and standalone article on Loss and Damage (from climate change), and to simplified and scaled-up access to finance for Small Island Developing States (like FSM) that are specifically vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and have significant capacity constraints. That’s great news to our community based conservation and climate adaptation efforts here in the FSM and we anticipate the switch from burning fossil fuels to using more renewable energy sources in all four FSM states. This looks good for FSM meeting our goals under the Paris Agreement, but if you take a closer look at what is really damaging our island environment, we need to look at what we are doing here, at home, in our communities and in our coastal fishery.


For the most part here in FSM, after the Paris meeting, things still remain business as usual. One activity that happens here in Pohnpei that speaks opposite to our voice in Paris is the dredging of mangroves and reefs. There are approximately 50 dredge sites (old and new) around the island of Pohnpei. This means there is a dredge site every mile. So while we spent a whole lot of time fighting to have the developed countries significantly decrease their carbon emissions into our atmosphere to help reverse global warming, we continue to allow dredging of our mangroves and corals, which ultimately decreases our resilience to the impacts of climate change. We need to stop/limit these activities, and help ourselves strengthen our island’s resilience to climate change. And when we fly all over the world saying that we are concerned about climate change and impacts on our communities, we need to start acting like we are really concerned by changing our own actions. Dredging mangroves and corals every mile around our island shows a true lack of concern by our leaders and citizens. If we are going to allow for these types of activities to continue, let's not kid ourselves and basically stop wasting money and time traveling the world to protest the developing countries hurting our environment with their CO2 emissions.
No matter how many solar powered power plants we have, if we don’t change the way we dredge up coral we are not going to see improvements in our local environment, and we could still see the continued erosion of shoreline of our coastal communities, sedimentation of our reefs, and a lack of biodiversity in our coastal fishery.
So with funding we will be receiving for climate change adaptation from the Paris Agreement, we need to find ways to stop the dredging of our mangroves and corals. We all want our island to develop, but there are better ways than to ruin the coastline of Pohnpei with so many dredge sites.
It’s time for us to come up with specific solutions to our specific problems and then use the funds that COP21 will see come available to developing island nations to solve these problems that only we can solve. These are the problems that we are causing, and no one else can fix them. Having the funding is only half of the solution. Getting communities to roll up their sleeves and get to work on committing to positive conservation efforts is the real work to come.