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East-West Centre Hosts Inaugural Micronesian conference of Leaders
11:38 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2019, United States

Delegations from the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau help chart course for a new era of the Pacific Islands Development Programme
Leaders from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau gathered at the East-West Centre on October 14 for the inaugural meeting of the Micronesian Conference of Leaders convened by the Pacific Islands Development Programme (PIDP) at EWC. 
Attendees included FSM President David W. Panuelo, along with Palau Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch and Marshall Islands Minister in Assistance to the President David Paul.
During the meeting, East-West Centre staff briefed the leaders on the broad variety of programmes the Centre conducts focusing on the Pacific Islands. These include use-inspired research on climate change impacts and mitigation; women’s empowerment workshops; economic and policy analysis; reporting tours and professional exchanges for Pacific journalists; and leadership training and capacity-building.
The Micronesian leaders expressed strong continuing support for PIDP, which was established by Pacific Island leaders in 1980 to support “equitable social and economic development” in the Pacific region. All three delegations emphasised PIDP’s unique and valuable contribution to the region as the only member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) based in the North Pacific. They also offered input into future directions for new programmes and collaboration in what EWC Vice President and PIDP Director Karena Lyons called “a new era” for PIDP.
Leaders voice support for PIDP
“The Pacific Islands Development Program has been a very important platform for our region’s leaders to discuss critical issues for nearly forty years,” said FSM President Panuelo in an address to the group. “We are very appreciative of the role that the East-West Centre and PIDP have played in leadership programmes that have helped develop our human resources and contributed to the nation-building process that our country has been going through. PIDP is a regional organisation that has added tremendous value to Pacific Islands empowerment and development, and I am confident that the organisation will be ideally postured to continue its legacy of value-added initiatives going forward, as we seek to collaborate and harmonise our common goals for the betterment of our Pacific communities.”
At a dinner in the delegations’ honor, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command, emphasized that “the United States has long been committed to our Pacific allies and partners in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we remain committed to the Pacific Islands’ future security and prosperity. We believe our allies and partners are critical to the prosperity of the region, and that all countries should have a voice in shaping the international system.”
Special guests at the dinner also included Hawai‘i Governor David Ige and the Commander of the US Coast Guard in the Pacific region, Rear Admiral Kevin Lunday, as well as representatives of other U.S. government agencies, community organization leaders, and members of the foreign consular corps.
A New Era for PIDP
In 1980, under the visionary leadership of Fiji Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Hawaii ‘i Governor George Ariyoshi, a special programme was established at the East-West Centre specifically to address the unique issues island nations faced as they emerged from decades of colonisation. Since then, the Pacific Islands Development Program has provided a forum for island leaders to discuss critical issues of development with partner countries, donors, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector.
PIDP has conducted a broad range of activities to enhance the quality of life in the Pacific Islands, including serving as the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, implementing capacity building and leadership development programmes, and providing a hub for dialogue and research on issues of critical importance.
With the appointment of Lyons as its new Director, PIDP is carrying out a revitalisation of its presence and effectiveness in the region. Lyons, a New Zealander of Samoan descent, is the first woman to lead the programme. “We have invited you all here to witness the cultivation of a new era of PIDP,” the former New Zealand Consul General in Honolulu and Ambassador to FSM, Palau, and RMI told the gathering of leaders, “as well as a new era of engagement across the entire Blue Pacific community built on responsiveness, connection, and relevance.”
“The time has come for PIDP to be reviewed and revitalised, as your countries and the other nations of the Pacific have taken control of your own destinies, and are global leaders in the fight against climate change and for sustainable ecosystems and economies,” added East-West Centre President Richard R. Vuylsteke.

“As we embark on this new direction, we want to take this moment to turn to you for your advice and leadership in the next chapter of PIDP’s relationship with the nations of the Pacific, as the first step in a much longer journey together.” .


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