Palau summit tackles climate change

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KOROR, Palau: The 21st Micronesian Chief Executives Summit recently took place at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center with Palau President Tommy Remengesau highlighting a regional partnership to combat the impacts of climate change.

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The summit is an annual gathering of the six governors and three presidents of Micronesia-Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia and its states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.

Gov. Johnson Elimo of Chuuk; Gov. Tony Ganngiyan of Yap; Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog of the CNMI; Remengesau; President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands; President Peter Christian of the FSM; Lt. Gov. Caarson Sigrah of Kosrae; Gov. Marcelo Peterson of Pohnpei and Gov. Eddie Calvo gathered for discussions on key issues including climate change, regional tourism, environment and establishment of a Micronesian center for a sustainable future.

Before each leader gave his opening remarks, Remengesau accepted the chairmanship of the summit from Ganngiyan. He welcomed the chief executives and colleagues to Palau. He also reminded the leaders of the need for a united regional effort to address the impacts of climate change and El Niño in Micronesia.

The Marshalls and FSM, he said, are already experiencing the effects of El Niño, with Palau also bracing for its effects.

“Yet while we can take heart from the fact that we are finally beginning to respond to the impacts of climate change at the global, regional and national level, we here in Micronesia are once again faced with a very real impact of climate change, a severe weather condition known as El Niño. Already, the FSM and the RMI and our state of Peleliu have declared states of emergency, awaiting the impacts of what is projected to be the worst El Niño in Micronesia’s history. Let us all hope that they are wrong. In Palau, we are experiencing forest fires, the browning of our beautiful Rock Islands and dangerously low water levels in our reservoir. I am sure that our friends are experiencing similar difficulties. Let us discuss potential partnerships to respond to this event during the week,” Remengesau stated in his remarks.

The Taiwan government is providing a $400,000 grant for the Micronesia Center for a Sustainable Future. The president urged the other leaders to locate the center’s Secretariat Office in Palau.

He also asked each jurisdiction to commit to contributing $15,000 annually for the support of the center.

The president said he hopes that the summit, which will conclude today with the signing of a communiqué, will usher cooperation in areas of regional importance.

Issues that will be in discussions are the expansion of foreign investment in the region, climate change, tourism expansion, invasion of foreign species, depletion of marine life and extreme weather events.

“Together, we can improve our responses and our capacities to meet each and every one of these challenges. Let us therefore maintain and expand our regional conversation and cooperation, for our children and for our future,” he said.

Calvo said he supports regional partnership with the other jurisdictions but in turn asked the leaders to support Guam’s effort to re-open programs that have been closed down for citizens of the freely associated states.

Calvo said Guam is also seeking support from its Micronesian leaders in urging the U.S. government in fulfilling its promise to the nations.

The other leaders made their remarks and shared the same sentiments on the need to strengthen the implementation of the decisions of the summit.

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