Endowment fund to conserve environment in the works


A $2-million endowment fund whose interest would fund conservation programs in the CNMI for perpetuity. That was the focus of discussions yesterday morning between acting governor Ralph DLG Torres, Micronesian Conservation Trust executive director William Kostka, and Trina Leberer, director for the Nature Conservancy Micronesia and Melanesia programs.

The Micronesia Conservation Trust is the financing arm of the regional conservation initiative, the Micronesian Challenge Endowment Fund, reported last September to now amount to $18 million. The CNMI and other regional government signed on to the Micronesian Challenge in 2006.

The Challenge’s goals are to conserve at least 30 percent of near-shore marine resources and 20 percent of terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

The Trust and Conservancy officials yesterday wanted to talk about sustainable financing for CNMI programs and the Micronesia Challenge.

“They were here to encourage the CNMI to participate with sister islands,” said press secretary Ivan Blanco.

Officials yesterday discussed proposals to allot half or less than a percent of an existing tax, or taxes, to be help fund the endowment, or look at “revenue points” like coastal permitting fees for funds.

The endowment would act like a trust fund with interest in its pot collecting at 5 percent of corpus, to be used mainly for conservation in the CNMI for perpetuity, for example.

“Now that we have increased economic development, we should give attention to financing and creating sustainable methods to” take care of “our natural resources,” said Torres.

“There are many options on the table and we are planning what’s available to support the goals of [the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality] and the Micronesian Challenge and our responsibility to the environment. We are also meeting with [the Division of Coastal Resource Management] next week to go over the options,” Torres said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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