Socioeconomic Monitoring for The Micronesia Challenge: Measuring Progress in Effective Conservation

By Supin Wongbusarakum

Traditional home in Yap, Micronesia.

The importance of socioeconomic monitoring for coastal management and conservation is becoming increasingly acknowledged around the world. Without understanding the impacts on people and communities that depend on natural resources, the effectiveness of conservation programs can easily be questioned. In the past decades, different tools and methods have been developed to help guide monitoring efforts.

Since its launch in 2007, by the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, the Socioeconomic Monitoring Guidelines for Coastal Managers in Pacific Island Countries (SEM-Pasifika) has been used to help develop capacity in designing and conducting SEM-Pasifika_coversocioeconomic assessments in many countries throughout the Pacific Islands. In Micronesia, NOAA social scientists have worked with multiple jurisdictional and regional partners to establish and strengthen socioeconomic monitoring efforts among the Micronesia Challenge countries: Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is important to connect social, economic, and biological monitoring to accurately assess the progress of the Micronesia Challenge’s goal to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

Sarigan Island in the Northern Marianas.

The Micronesia Challenge’s 2nd Socioeconomic Measures Workshop took place in Guam from June 10 to 12, 2015. Brooke Nevitt of the Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, Michael Lameier of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service’s Habitat Conservation Division, Berna Gorong of The Nature Conservancy, and Supin Wongbusarakum from the NOAA PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division served as co-facilitators and resource experts. The workshop brought together representatives from national, regional, and local government agencies with non-governmental organizations and potential funding agencies.

Participants in the Micronesia Challenge’s 2nd Socioeconomic Measures Workshop.

Participants in the Micronesia Challenge’s 2nd Socioeconomic Measures Workshop.

Workshop participants reviewed previous and current socioeconomic monitoring efforts in the region and then identified gaps and steps to improve and sustain monitoring at all levels in Micronesia. They also initiated a discussion on how to integrate socioeconomic and biological monitoring to better understand the impacts of conservation and natural resource management. To support their unanimous agreement on the importance of socioeconomic monitoring in the region, they established a “Core Micronesia Socioeconomic Monitoring Team” with representatives from all jurisdictions. The team will reconvene from September 21 to October 3, 2015 to further build the group’s social science knowledge and training skills and to initiate development of socioeconomic monitoring plans for selected sites in Micronesia.

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