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Remarks by H.E. David W. Panuelo
President of the Federated States of Micronesia
at the 12th Conference of the Pacific Community
I bring you warm greetings from this Paradise in Our Backyards in the Federated States of Micronesia. Thank you for this opportunity to say a few words on behalf on my people. In doing so, it is perhaps fitting for me (to join prior speakers) in conveying messages of heartfelt solidarity to our Pacific brothers and sisters in Solomon Islands, along with messages of hope for social recovery and reversal back to normalcy. With us by their side rendering support and encouragement, I am certain peace in Solomon Islands will prevail and tranquility in our Blue Pacific will be maintained.
In moving forward, I convey my sincerest congratulations to you for assuming the important post as Chair for our 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Pacific Community. Thank you as well for allowing me to deliver the opening prayer for our conference. Sentiments of high praise and gratitude are also extended to the outgoing Chair (Cook Islands) for its leadership. I also want to acknowledge my dear friend, Director-General Stewart Minchin, and all of our friends and family at SPC, and in particular, the excellent report that they have prepared and have presented to us for our consideration.
Among other updates reflected in the report, I note general descriptions of challenges and hindrances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to our Secretariat’s ability to provide service delivery. I appreciate very much the Secretariat’s ability to execute substantive work programs under these extraordinary conditions. In my view, this is truly a testament to excellent leadership and management by our Secretariat, supported by capable, dedicated, and experienced personnel. With the ravages of COVID-19 in our Pacific Community, please allow me this brief moment to submit my personal sympathies and condolences to those of our members who have lost precious lives. At the same time, and in consideration of the latest Omicron variant of the virus, the FSM encourages the members of our SPC family to be vigilant in our united effort to fight against the virus. With our collective solidarity, I am certain we will prevail.
Within the report’s description of progresses on growth for our regional and international partnerships, I note with high appreciation our Secretariat’s major role on the critical issue of Sea-Level Rise and Maritime Zones – a role that helped caused the development of the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise. This declaration is monumentally important to the survival of our entire Pacific region and of our entire Pacific peoples. I praise our Secretariat for this excellent work, and I encourage for continued solidarity as we advocate for ourselves.
I value immensely the creation of a new proposed development plan for our Pacific Community, labeled as Strategic Plan 2021 Plus – and, aim to govern and deliver essential services for our membership and for our region for the next decade. I categorically endorse this plan, and the FSM stands ready to play its part in its implementation.
On that same topic, I note that there is a proposed committee to provide monitoring oversight over the strategic implementation of the plan. The FSM hopes we can contribute to this committee’s oversight work.
Our Pacific Community is fast approaching 75 years of service to our Pacific region. Throughout the lifespan of our organization, much has been accomplished in regional service delivery, with dedication and professionalism, which has always been the hallmark of our family and our Secretariat. The depth and breadth of what SPC continue to do remains unmatched in our region, covering a wide range of services and technical areas, some of which are in human, marine and animal health; research and advisory services; women, youth, and disability issues; transportation and shipping; statistics, communications and information dissemination, trainings and attachments for national capacity-building, and many more. SPC’s multidisciplinary approach to regional service which it delivers in the most practical way possible is a special feature of our SPC and has earned a reputation for providing practical solutions to real problems. An equally crucial and appreciated feature is that SPC ensures every member country, large or small, rich or poor, and at whatever stage of political development, has a place and a voice.
Having been blessed with excellent leadership, both past and present, our organization remains strong, staff professionalism remains high, and expertise remains unmatched. However, our organization would be strengthened if we allow more voices to be heard. It is for this precise reason that I submit the FSM’s complete endorsement for the re-entry of the United Kingdom into our family. It is further for this reason that I that I submit the FSM’s complete endorsement for the granting of an observer status for the European Union; And, it is for this reason that I also submit the FSM’s complete endorsement for the establishment of a Polynesia Regional Office.
Colleagues and Friends:
Speaking of our various sub-regions, my country and my people remain very fortunate to be one of the few members of our Pacific Community that has been granted the opportunity to host an SPC regional office. We remain a very proud host of the office located here in Pohnpei, we remain grateful of the many benefits that it creates in our part of the region, we remain grateful for the symbol of collective unity and solidarity that it represents, and we continue to maintain high optimism of the many more tangible services that it delivers and will continue to deliver.
With recent infusions into the office of programs under the EDF 11 Sustainable Energy and Accompanying Measures (SEAM) Financing Agreement, with recent infusion of the Enhance Direct Access program under the Green Climate Fund in the amount of $16.6 Million Dollars, and with recent infusion of the PROJECT Governance, our SPC Micronesia Regional Office and its experiences in the Northern Pacific is clearly marked, without a doubt, as a success story for our Pacific Community.
As the office continues to see excellent prospects for expansion of services and programs, let me assure all my sincerest commitment and support. Come first quarter of next year, our Micronesia Regional Office here in Pohnpei will be provided the requested space requirements needed to accommodate its interest in expansion, which I anticipate will result in the strengthening of program and project delivery for our Micronesia region. In this connection, may I also take this moment to offer gratitude and praise to Ms. Lara Studzinski and her capable staff here at the Micronesia Regional Office for their continued support and professionalism. Here in the FSM, our SPC is a major and critical member of our community of development partners which, among many others, include the establishment of a Multi-Country Office of the United Nations (UN MCO) located here in Pohnpei. With the recent arrival to Pohnpei of the office’s Resident Coordinator, much positive developments are expected in the days ahead.
As I conclude my statement, I end with re-assurances of my country’s continued support and cooperation as a member of our Pacific Community. My country has and will always remain strongly committed to working with SPC and its fellow members to ensure that the main Secretariat and all its auxiliary sub-regional offices reach their full capacity and full potential. It is through this sense of solidarity for our family that I, as President of the Federated States of Micronesia, hope to one day in the near future be given the opportunity to host our Conference and welcome each and every one of you into our Federated States of Micronesia.
Thank you for the opportunity.