Federated States of Micronesia

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Country Overview 

Capital: Pohnpei
Land: 700 sq km
EEZ: 2.9 million sq km
Population: 112,000 (2003 est.)
Language: English, Micronesian languages
Currency: United States Dollar
Economy: Agriculture and fisheries

The independent, sovereign nation of the FSM, with a constitutional Government, was formed in 1979. FSM comprises part of what was generally known as the Eastern and Western Caroline Islands. It covers the largest and most diverse part of the greater Micronesian region. The federation is formed by the four States of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae (Figure 2).

FSM consists of 607 small islands, 74 of which are inhabited. The islands are spread over a vast region in the Western Pacific, between one degree south and 14 degrees north latitude, and between 135 and 166 degrees east longitude. The distance between the eastern-most State (Kosrae) and the western-most State (Yap) is 1,700 miles (2,700 km). Much of FSM lies just above the equator, about 2,500 miles (4,000 km) southwest of Hawaii and about 1,900 miles (3,000 km) north of eastern Australia. While the total land area of the FSM is only 271 square miles (702 km²), its vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covers an area of over one million square miles (2.5 million km²)

Political and Legislative

A Compact of Free Association (the Compact) was signed by the United States of America (USA) and FSM in 1986, leading to the trusteeship termination by the United Nations (UN) in 1991. This Compact agreement established a continuous close relationship between the FSM and the USA, through agreed mutual obligations and fiscal assistance. The Compact also grants FSM citizens access to USA federal programs, and favorable provisions for traveling to, and working in, the USA.

The  FSM  has  four  levels  of  governance  –  National,  State,  municipal,  and  traditional.  The  National  Government, headquartered at Palikir on Pohnpei Island has three branches. Under FSM’s Constitution, Article V, Section 3, Congress may establish a Chamber of Chiefs, but to date, this has not been implemented. The legislative power of the National Government is vested in the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia. The Congress is comprised of four members (one from each State) elected for four-year terms and ten members (allocated to the States based on population) elected for two-year terms. The Executive power is vested in the President and Vice-President, elected by the Congress from amongst members serving four-year terms. Judicial power is vested in the FSM Supreme Court, headed by a Chief Justice who is assisted by up to five Associate Justices.

Each  of  FSM’s  four  State  Governments  has  its  own  constitutional  Government,  consisting  of  the  three  branches:  Executive, Legislative and Judicial. All States have a Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Executive offices are selected by the current Governor and approved by the State legislature. Each State may have fewer or more offices depending on their priorities and needs. Yap is the only State with a traditional leadership branch. This traditional leadership is made up of the Council of Pilung and the Council of Tamol, made up of the traditional chiefs of Yap Island proper, and from the neighbouring islands and atolls in Yap State, respectively.

The National Constitution of the FSM is the foundation of all legal authorities and decision-making processes for the Nation. There  are  four  States  in  FSM,  which  have  their  respective  constitution.   The  state  constitutions  allow the states to enact state legislation consistent with state powers as provided for in the FSM Constitution. The FSM Constitution provides concurrent powers for the States to function as semi autonomous governments in enacting legislation  that  address  concerns  and  issues  related  to  managing  natural  resources  and  to  achieving  sustainable development.

Under the Compact II, Article VI and Section 161 of Title II, FSM is committed to applying the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and “to develop and implement standards and procedures to protect its environment”. Responsibility for environmental and related issues is shared between the FSM National Government and the individual FSM State Governments.

Each FSM State has its own set of environmental and related laws and regulations geared to alleviate further damage to the nation’s fragile environment that is caused either by excessive human activity or by climate change. States take the lead role in ensuring that development is avoided in vulnerable areas as well as ensuring that critical natural systems are protected. Each State has made efforts to control development and manage natural resources through the creation of land use plans, coastal zone plans, legislation and regulations. The National Government provides guidance  and  technical  assistance  to  the  States  when  needed  and  requested  on  matters  related  to  planning, economic development, natural resources, fisheries, and the environment.

In June, 2012, FSM Environmental Protection Act became Public Law. Its purpose is to:

  >reflect  the  current  functions  and  responsibilities  of  the  National  Government  in  the  area  of  environmental management and protection;

  >eliminate duplication of responsibilities between the National and State Governments in the area of environmental management and protection; and

  >provide the Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM) with the necessary legal authority to implement, via regulation, the multilateral environmental agreements that FSM had already ratified, including the UNFCCC.

The FSM Environment Sector Plan 2010-2015, prepared in accordance with the FSM Strategic Development Plan (SDP) 2004-2023, identifies achieving higher rates of compliance with environmental laws as a high priority for FSM National and State Governments. Among the most serious problems of environmental governance in FSM is that the laws and regulations are not enforced consistently or effectively. The new Environment Protection Act endeavors to address this and related issues, in part by strengthening enforcement action and by requiring the Director of OEEM to provide, on an annual basis, an environmental quality report covering the status and conditions of the environment of FSM, and a review of the programs and activities of the National Government, State Governments, municipal Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with particular reference to their effect on the environment of the country.

Each of the four States is centred on one or more main high islands. All but Kosrae State includes numerous outlying atolls. The capital of FSM, Palikir, is located in Pohnpei State. Many of the islands in FSM are extinct shield volcanoes,  with  steep  and  rugged  centers  that  are  densely  vegetated  and  eroded.  Mangroves  grow  around  the coastal  fringes.  Land  elevations  range  up  to  about  2,500  feet  (760  m).  Other  islands  are  relatively  flat,  small  and swampy, with low-lying, forested atoll islets, typically one to five m above mean sea level.

Based  on  results  from  the  2010  census,  there  were  an  estimated 102,843  persons  in FSM (Population:  Yap  – 11.1%; Chuuk – 47.3%; Pohnpei – 35.2%; Kosrae – 6.4%) residing in 16,767 households (Households: Yap – 13.8%; Chuuk – 41.9%; Pohnpei – 37.5%; Kosrae – 6.8%) .

National Climate Change Priorities

In the 2004–2023 National Strategic Development Plan (SDP), Strategic Goal 1 in the Environment Section recognised the need to mainstream climate change into national planning, as well as in all economic development activities. In December 2009 the President of the FSM issued an Executive Order directing all relevant sectors to update existing plans and complete them in order to bolster responses towards mitigating and adapting to climate change. The sectors included agriculture (and food security), energy, water, infrastructure, transport, finance, health, and gender.

The Strategic Development Plan climate change priorities are:

  1. Raising awareness of climate change among the  general  population;
  2. Developing  coastal  management plans in all four States; and
  3. Developing ways to “climate proof” facilities and structure that support social and other services;
  4. Use ecosystem-based approaches where applicable;
  5. Encourage and strengthen the application of traditional knowledge on conservation practices and other relevant areas; and
  6. Develop and implement appropriate strategies to improve food production and other relevant sectors.

The specific priorities include:

  1. Developing a national climate education programme implemented through state, non-governmental organisations and community groups;
  2. Installing and maintaining climate-monitoring stations throughout FSM;
  3. Prepare maps of inundation risk and vulnerability and develop an inundation timeline that can inform state and national plans;
  4. Creating a national climate risk management plan and road map for managing climate risk, supported by individual state plans that emphasise community-based adaptation; nad
  5. Building food and water resiliency.

While each state has its own strategic development plan, Kosrae is the only State with a climate-responsive Strategic Development Plan (2013−2024). The SDP recognises that “the most prudent approach to addressing effects of naturally occurring events (climate change or disaster risks) long term would be to divert development and settlement along the coast to inland and higher grounds” (SDP 2013−2024, p. 29). The Environmental Results and Targets No. 6 states that by 2023 capacity is strengthened at all levels to climate change adaptation, and management and mitigation of risks of disasters enhanced so that communities are resilient to impacts of climate change and disaster risks. Resilience to climate change is also included within strategies for agriculture.

For more information, download the FSM Second National Communication Report.

Governance

The Strategic Development Plan (SDP) for FSM provides a road map for social and economic development for the 20 years 2004−2023. The SDP and the Infrastructure Development Plan (IDP) both recognise the need for mitigation and adaptation measures to limit the impacts of climate change. The SDP has four main objectives:

  1. Stability and security — to maintain economic assistance at levels that support macroeconomic stability; achievement of this objective requires levels of funding close to prevailing levels, to avoid the large periodic step-downs in funding that were characteristic of the first fourteen-year Compact funding package.
  2. Improved enabling environment for economic growth — to be achieved through the FSM commitment to economic reform and the provision of an enabling environment to support open, outward-oriented and private sector-led development.
  3. Improved education and health status — use of the annual Compact grant to support the provision of basic services in education and health.
  4. Assured self-reliance and sustainability — to be achieved through establishment of a trust fund that would, after a period of time, replace the annually appropriated transfers from the USA.

FSM’s Vice President chairs a FSM Sustainable Development Council (SDC) that is a high level interdepartmental advisory body to the government on matters concerning the integration of the environment and development.  Set up in 1995 formerly as the President’s Council on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development, the role is to advise and make recommendations to the President on matters affecting the environmental management and sustainable development of FSM.  The objective of the Council is to improve the coordination of all sustainable development activities, including climate change and strengthen the council to better coordinate capacity assessments and flows of financial assistance into FSM.

 FSM developed a Multi-State Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2005, and in 2009 a national Climate Change Policy was adopted. The country developed a combined Policy for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in 2013.  This is being implemented through State Joint Action Plans for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management.

The  FSM  Environmental  Protection  Act  designates  OEEM  as  the  focal  point  for  all  Government  climate  change activities. As a result, it is the coordinating agency for all climate change projects and activities. Importantly, through the common institutional platform of OEEM, FSM is pursuing an integrated approach to climate change and DRM. OEEM provides technical assistance for the implementation of activities relating to climate change and DRM, and provides scientific, technical and policy oversight.

The National Climate Change Policy identifies the following sectors and, in some cases, the agency responsible for implementing climate change adaptation actions:

Over the years FSM has worked closely with SPREP’s Pacific Islands Climate Assistance Program, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), including the former Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Country Studies. This included developing appropriate National strategies for addressing climate change at various levels.

Environmental  agencies,  both  Government  and  NGOs,  are  active  in  addressing  climate  change  by  undertaking initiatives to protect the health and natural resources as an effective way to adapt. Government environmental agencies, especially, execute environmental laws and regulations of the US obligated under Compact II and those initiated by the FSM at the National, State, and local levels (Namakin, 2008). As noted above, responsibility for environmental issues is shared between the FSM National Government and the four State Governments. The States take the lead role in ensuring that development avoids vulnerable areas and that critical natural systems are protected.

FSM is making efforts to identify and implement adaptation options that reduce climate risks. FSM is presently preparing a Joint National Action Plan for climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk management (DRM).  The identification of appropriate adaptation measures, however, remains at a very generic level.

FSM’s approach to successfully achieving climate change adaptation may be facilitated by three initiatives:

  1. establishing FSM as a National Implementing Entity in order to improve access to international funding, thereby increasing the flow of financial resources to the FSM and its States;
  2. forming international partnerships to aid adaptation efforts; and
  3. Continuing the development of internal policies and legislation focused on building resilient and sustainable communities, including ensuring that development efforts do not make FSM more at risk to climate change and making a developer liable for actions that reduce the resilience of a community and/or island.

FSM Second National Communication Report to the UNFCCC (2015) reports that a Fletcher and Richmond (2010) report have concluded that successfully achieving climate adaptation within the FSM may be facilitated by two steps:

  1. forming international partnerships to aid adaptation efforts; and
  2. Continuing the development of internal policies focused on building resilient and sustainable communities.

This may be facilitated with the following:

  1. Public education on climate risks in FSM including education of Government workers and other decision makers, of community members, and of landowners in particular;
  2. Community-based adaptation offers an opportunity to effectively institute adaptation measures with immediate benefit;
  3. Working within traditional land use policies to implement climate risk management as this will engender more domestic partnerships;
  4. Defining best management practices and aligning Government programs and policies with these practices;
  5. Strategic redevelopment of coastal communities vulnerable to flooding now and in coming decades;
  6. Conserving and promoting island and oceanic ecosystem services;
  7. Preserving and promoting traditional culture to facilitate adaptation strategies and community accord;
  8. Improving food and water security with a focus on domestic production as a core strategy in the National economy; and
  9. Master planning of communities focused on sustainability with enhanced Government services such as health, sanitation, water and power, emergency services, and others (Fletcher and Richmond, 2010)

Community based adaptation to climate change must involve all stakeholders in defining adaptation steps. Thus NGOs are considered valuable partners in managing climate risk in the FSM. (Refer to the Knowledge Management & Education component).

The following capacity building needs for assessment and managing climate risks in FSM, particularly with respect to adaptation:

At the systemic level:

  • A policy framework should be in place by all different sectors to consider to deal with adaptation.

At the institutional level:

  • All institutions should recognize and implement their roles, responsibility and mandates to related to adaptation; and
  • Institutions should be specialized in dealing with the impacts of climate change on all sectors, including health, economy, and biodiversity.

At the individual level:

  • training and education opportunities should be provided for individuals to improve their knowledge and skills on  adaptation  project  design  and  implementation,  and  more  in  approaching  vulnerability  and  adaptation assessments;
  • awareness  programs  should  be  considered  for  heads  of  the  village,  decision  makers,  youth  groups,  church leaders to incorporate adaptation; and
  • Individuals with expertise should be recognized and utilized to build on what they have and able to train others

For more information, go to: [FSM Second National Communication Report to UNFCCC link in the Portal.  Cilla – this report is fairly new. You may like to search online on unfccc.int for the report.]

For information on adaptation projects in FSM, go to Projects Database.

Current climate

Warming trends are evident in annual and half-year mean air temperatures for Pohnpei since 1951. The Yap mean air temperature trend shows little change for the same period.

Extreme temperatures such as Warm Days and Warm Nights have been increasing at Pohnpei consistent with global warming trends. Trends in minimum temperatures at Yap are not consistent with Pohnpei or global warming trends and may be due to unresolved in homogeneities in the record.

At Pohnpei, there has been a decreasing trend in May–October rainfall since 1950. This implies either a shift in the mean location of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) away from Pohnpei and/or a change in the intensity of rainfall associated with the ITCZ.

There has also been a decreasing trend in Very Wet Day rainfall at Pohnpei and Consecutive Dry Days at Yap since 1952. The remaining annual, half-year and extreme daily rainfall trends show little change at both sites.

Tropical cyclones (typhoons) affect the Federated States of Micronesia mainly between June and November. An average of 71 cyclones per decade developed within or crossed the Federated States of Micronesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the 1977 and 2011 seasons. Tropical cyclones were most frequent in El Niño years (88 cyclones per decade) and least frequent in La Niña years (38 cyclones per decade). The neutral season average is 84 cyclones per decade. Thirty-seven of the 212 tropical cyclones (17%) between the 1981 and 2011 seasons became severe events (Category 3 or stronger) in the Federated States of Micronesia’s EEZ. Available data are not suitable for assessing long-term trends.

Wind-waves in the Federated States of Micronesia are dominated by north-easterly trade winds and westerly monsoon winds seasonally, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) inter-annually. There is little variation in wave climate between the eastern and western parts of the country; however Yap, in the west, has a more marked dependence on the El Niño–Southern Oscillation in June–September than Pohnpei, in the east. There is data that is available but are not suitable for assessing long-term trends. For more information see Section 4.3 of the FSM chapter p67) under Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014). Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific: New Science and Updated Country Reports, Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program Technical Report, Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia.

For detailed information, go to: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

Future climate

For the period to 2100, the latest global climate model (GCM) projections and climate science findings for FSM indicate:

  • El Niño and La Niña events will continue to occur in the future (very high confidence), but there is little consensus on whether these events will change in intensity or frequency;
  • Annual mean temperatures and extremely high daily temperatures will continue to rise (very high confidence);
  • Average annual rainfall is projected to increase (medium confidence), with more extreme rain events (high confidence);
  • Drought frequency is projected to decrease (medium confidence);
  • Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence);
  • The risk of coral bleaching will increase in the future (very high confidence);
  • Sea level will continue to rise(very high confidence); and
  • Wave height is projected to decrease in December–March (low confidence), and waves may be more directed from the south in the June–September (low confidence)

For detailed information, go to: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

Early childhood education has not been incorporated into the formal education system and Government has yet to formulate a related policy. Current early childhood education programs are operated with the support of a USA Federal grant. More vulnerable and disadvantaged children do not have preferred access to such education.

The quality of the FSM labour force, as measured by educational attainment, has not improved markedly between the last two censuses. Although the proportion of the population aged 25 and over with no education declined from 23% to 8% between 1999 and 2010, the proportion completing only elementary school has remained approximately constant, at around 30%. There has been an increase in the proportion of the 25 and over population completing a high school education (now 36%). Both the number and proportion of the 25 and over population with a Bachelor’s degree has risen to 12%. Unemployment as measured by the 1994 and 2010 censuses has increased in absolute numbers (from 4,216 to 6,130), but as a percentage of the labour force the level is unchanged at 16%. FSM needs to prepare and implement a postsecondary strategy to develop the skills needed to increase employment and support the economic development of the country. Some programs are being introduced by the College of Micronesia and linking with employment increases in Guam.

The  FSM  acknowledges  the  development  of  human  resources  is  the  key  to  sustainable  development,  including addressing  climate-related  risks.  In  the  past  FSM  placed  greater  emphasis  on  capital  economic  development projects than on human resource development. Recently this trend has changed and programs to develop local resource capacity and institutional strengthening have been undertaken, including programs for gender equality and improvements for the nations women and children. Further improvements in all formal educational services are required to provide the training and skills required to sustainably develop the nation. International and local NGO communities operating within the FSM have contributed considerably to this, especially in the areas of environmental management and community empowerment.

Although considerable effort and advancements have been made, communication and coordination among National and  State  Government  agencies  with  the  private  sector,  NGO  community,  local  municipalities  and  citizens  need to be further improved, with special emphasis on awareness of environment and sustainable resource utilization and management. This is especially important for cumulative and long-term impacts. The further development of community-based services will greatly assist in this endeavor.

The  Pacific  Islands  Climate  Education  Partnership  (PCEP)  is  funded  by  the  US  National  Science  Foundation  and serves the United States-affiliated Pacific Island region that includes FSM. Students and citizens within the region are helped to gain the knowledge and skills to advance understanding of climate change, mitigate the extent of climate change, and adapt to its impacts. As an example, the PCEP Climate Education Framework for Grades 3-5 guides the PCEP climate education curriculum in participating elementary schools between Grades 3 and 5. It describes the desirable levels of climate science knowledge and skills that the students should have by the end of the fifth grade. The  Framework  draws  extensively  from  current  US  initiatives  in  science  education  and  climate  education,  but  is contextualized for the tropical Pacific islands

The MDG Education Goal for FSM is on track but care is needed to prevent regression.  The root causes facing education, public awareness and training are:

  • Prioritization of local conservation issues in school systems is low
  • Limited environmental education materials for school
  • Limited funds for education and awareness programs
  • Limited promotional campaigns
  • Lack of supplementary materials for community education outreach purposes
  • Fire danger and water conservation awareness and coping methods to high islands and atoll residents is limited
  • Lack of environment education programs in curriculum

The FSM has implemented programs on incorporating environmental conservation work concepts into educational programs.  The 2009 Climate Change Policy Education goals are:

  1. To develop and disseminate education materials on climate change and its effects, and
  2. (ii) to develop and integrate climate change and its effect into intermediate, primary and secondary education curricula.

The public awareness goals are:

  1. To promote, facilitate and implement public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects at national, state and community levels by using relevant mediums, i.e. radio spots, newspaper, workshops, etc., 
  2. To provide public access to information on climate change and its effects; and
  3. To promote public participation in addressing climate change and its effect by facilitating feedback, debate, partnership in activities and linking with other environment related events (e.g. National Environment Day, World Clean Up Day, National Women’s Day)

One of the specific climate change policy priorities point to education. This is ‘developing a National climate education program implemented through State, non-governmental organizations and community groups’.

The focus of the Nationwide Climate Change Policy (2009) is to “mitigate climate change especially at the international level, and adaptation at the national, state and community levels to reduce the FSM’s vulnerability to climate change adverse impacts.”[1] The vision and stated objective of the Nationwide Climate Change Policy (NCCP) is to work towards a global agreement on stabilization of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and non-GHG achieve the objective of the UNFCCC.

Mitigation Activities (as detailed in the NCCP, 2009):

  • To advocate a post-Kyoto carbon dioxide emission reduction that will keep temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2020 and beyond;
  • To urgently address the global reduction and/or destruction of GHGs and non-GHG warmers through “fast action” strategies;
  • To maintain and enhance FSM as a negative carbon country through effective management of the country’s natural sinks, bio-sequestration, promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and other appropriate means;
  • To prioritise actions that address both mitigation and adaptation such as water development using renewable energy (e.g. solar water desalination) and other relevant actions;
  • To encourage and strengthen the application of traditional knowledge on transportation practices and other areas.

 


[1] Nationwide Climate Change Policy (2009), p. 1.

Focal points – Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management

Climate Change
Andrew Yatilman

Director
Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM)
Palikir Station, Pohnpei State, FM 96941
Phone: (691) 320-8815
Email: andrewy@mail.fm/climate@mail.fm/oeemdir@gmail.com

 

H.E., Mrs. Jane CHIGIYAL (Political Focal Point)
Ambassador, Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Micronesia to the United Nations
300 East 42nd Street Suite 1600
New York, NY 10017
United States
E-mail:  jchigiyal@gmail.com/chigiyal67@fsmgov.org

Disaster Risk Management
Mr Antholino Neth

Public Assistance Officer
Office of Environment and Emergency Management (OEEM)
Palikir Station, Pohnpei State, FM 96941
Phone: (691) 320-8815
E-mail: aneth2008@gmail.com

Date updated: June 2017

List of references used to develop country profile: