Updated: September 27, 2022
The Nature Conservancy announced that Noah Idechong, a recognized leader in championing conservation in Palau and across the Pacific, has been named executive director for the newly expanded Micronesia and Polynesia chapter of the organization.
Idechong has served as TNC Micronesia’s interim director for the last several months, and has been a senior advisor for TNC’s large-scale fisheries management since 2015, focused on moving the region’s multi-billion dollar tuna fisheries towards greater sustainability.
Idechong is a champion of sustainability and conservation. He is a past recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and a Pew Fellowship recipient, and he is the founding executive director of the Palau Conservation Society. Idechong encouraged and helped the northern Chiefs of Palau establish the first modern Bul (restriction) across state boundaries to protect spawning channels for groupers and other marine species important to Palauan livelihoods. Bul is the strictest tool in the traditional system still used by Chiefs to protect a resource.
Idechong has a long history of working collaboratively with people across the region. He shared locally-based approaches such as the Bul with community leaders from Hawai‘i via Learning Exchanges that inspired co-management and new resource protection methods, from voluntary rest areas to legally protected marine reserves.
“Noah has decades of experience in conservation aimed at building a better future for us all,” said Mike Sweeney, Division Director, California, Hawai’i and Micronesia. “As we work to address critical conservation work in the region, Noah’s experience working with colleagues from Palau to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Hawai‘i, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will be invaluable.”
Previously, Idechong served in the House of Delegates, Olbiil era Kelulau (Palau National Congress) for 12 years, eight of which he spent as the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Resources and Development, and his final four as Speaker. While in Congress, he worked with counterparts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to strengthen participation and sharing of responsibilities in management of oceanic and coastal fisheries, while protecting the habitats on which these ecosystems depend.
Before serving in elected office, Idechong in addition to helping to found the Palau Conservation Society, he served as Chief of Palau’s Division of Marine Resources, where he helped draft the country’s first marine conservation legislation, sponsored the creation of the Palau Protected Areas Network, and helped negotiate tuna treaties between the nations of Micronesia, Japan, the US and other nations that share the Pacific.
An early proponent of the Micronesia Challenge (a commitment by Micronesia’s leaders to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by the year 2020), Idechong is passionate about developing TNC’s field-based work to successfully shape national policy and support improved resource management and quality of life for the peoples of the Pacific.
“I will do my best to bring TNC’s core values and strengths to bear in supporting the needs of the people of the Pacific, supporting both national aspirations and the need to make incremental progress towards our shared global responsibilities,” said Idechong.