The U.S Government has helped Pacific Island countries unlock more than half a billion US dollars in funding to manage the growing impact of climate change.

This was stated by the United States of America Ambassador to Fiji Marie Damour while delivering her speech during the American Independence Day celebration in Suva.

Ambassador Damour said the Pacific Islands are leading the world on climate issues, advocating for action that has catalysed change on a global scale.

“For our part, the U.S Government has helped Pacific Island countries unlock more than half a billion U.S. dollars in funding to manage the growing impact of climate change. At the recent Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue in Papua New Guinea, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced our plans to be among the founding partners to support the PIF in standing up the new Pacific Resilience Facility to attract investments in adaptation and resilience. The United States is committed to being your partner and ensure a prosperous, healthy future for the Blue Pacific,” she said.

Ambassador Damour said the two countries also share an enduring commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights.

“The United States and Fiji have a rich shared history. We have long partnered to secure regional peace and stability. Our two countries share an enduring commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights. In the Second World War, when those fundamental rights were in jeopardy, Fijian and American soldiers fought shoulder-to-shoulder to defend our shared ideals and restore peace to the Blue Pacific.

“We are approaching or have already commemorated the 80th anniversary of many of those decisive battles. But the same common priorities that led to victory all those decades ago still guide our actions today. The United States and Fiji are both Pacific countries and our common commitment to regional peace, prosperity, and security remains strong.

“For example, our Shiprider programme allows Fijian law enforcement personnel to embark onto U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels to enforce Fijian law within Fiji’s exclusive economic zone. Thanks to this partnership, Fiji can more effectively combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,” she said.

Ambassador Damour said the U.S will open the USAID Pacific Islands mission in Suva in August.
“Our shared history is a prologue for our exciting future. In the coming year, the U.S Department of Commerce will lead a U.S business delegation to the Pacific Islands to look at concrete opportunities in energy, in transportation, in health care, in tourism, and telecommunication sectors.

“We’re also partnering with Johns Hopkins University to welcome the first cohort of Pacific leaders at the U.S Pacific Institute for Rising Leaders programme this fall. This programme, which springs from the President’s summit last September, will bring the region’s brightest minds together to address key priorities.

“And in August, we will officially open the USAID Pacific Islands mission in Suva to promote our shared development goals for a more resilient, more connected, and more prosperous region as outlined in the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy,” Ambassador Damour said.

The celebration also honoured the contribution of the U.S Peace Corps in Fiji.

“Peace Corps’ years of focus on community centered development has contributed to the professional and personal growth of many men and women on both our shores. In conversations I have with Fijians from all walks of life, I frequently hear their fond memories of Peace Corps Volunteers and the long-lasting impact of their experience with a volunteer. With the return of Peace Corps Volunteers to service this year, new friendships and collaborations are developing right now, further reinforcing our long-lasting commitment and partnership with each other,” she said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs acting chief of protocol Rosa Dalituicama said Fiji values its relationship with the U.S as an important strategic partner for the nation and the region.

She said the Fiji-U.S relationship is based on mutual respect and goodwill underpinned by democratic values and close cooperation on international peacekeeping operations, regional security, and environmental issues including climate change and economic developments.

Dalituicama said with Fiji is confident relations between the two countries will be elevated to greater heights to address peace, stability and sustainable development of the Pacific and the world.

She said America’s journey of nation building has paved the way for smaller democracies to learn from.