Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the 2018-2019 chairman of the Micronesian Islands Forum, joined other Micronesian chief executives this past week to convene the 24th Micronesian Islands Forum in Chuuk.
This year’s theme is “Sowing the Seeds of Prosperity for a Sustainable Micronesia.”
The chief executives of Micronesia meet every year to discuss and establish regional cooperation on a variety of issues that are of mutual concern to the region. This annual summit brings together the six governors and three presidents of Micronesia, as well as policy representatives from the CNMI, Guam, Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and its members states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.
Last year, the CNMI hosted the 23rd Micronesian Islands Forum on Saipan on April 25-27, 2018, at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan.
In his remarks last week as outgoing chairman, Torres underscored the significance of the meeting between the island leaders, emphasizing the need to work for the common good of Micronesia and to continue collaborating and strengthening the ties within the region.
“A great deal of information has been shared with us here. And while we all have an idea of where we stand as a region, we must continue to forge ahead for the common good of our islands. We know our immediate challenges and we recognize our obstacles,” Torres said. “For most of us, we know the pressure of economic hardship very well. Like the vast Pacific Ocean, our challenges unite us and our collective work provides us the tools we need to sow the seeds of prosperity for a sustainable Micronesia.”
“We have done much, but we can do more. As an advocate for sustainable communities, I would also like to see our islands reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence on imported produce. We all have an abundance of land and marine resources. The key to sustainability is to grow local, eat local, and live local,” Torres said.
The two-day event featured presentations from all nine island jurisdictions and several key federal and regional partners, including the Office of Insular Affairs, Joint Region Marianas, and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
In addition, committee reports from the MIF’s nine standing committees were led by policy representatives from the around the region on:
• Regional Workforce Development Council
• Micronesia Regional Invasive Species Council
• Renewable Energy Committee
• Pacific Island Regional Recycling Initiative Committee
• Regional Transportation Committee
• Regional Health Committee
• Regional Telecommunications Committee
• Micronesia Challenge
• Regional Tourism Council
At the end of the forum, Torres renewed his call to work together for the region’s economic development and a collective effort to combat the effects of climate change.
“Along the lines of economic development, I believe we all share common concerns on our very limited access to passenger and cargo service throughout our region. I’m interested to see some of the action items proposed by the Transportation Committee in their presentation yesterday. With strong and viable air and ocean transport services, our region will have a greater gateway to economic growth and development.
“Unlike other parts of the world, climate change is a major threat to our remote island communities. As first-hand witnesses to the effects of climate change, we have already seen its current impacts and we have a sense of what is to come if we don’t do our part. We must take this threat seriously by adopting policies and safeguards that will curb the increase in carbon emissions. Take it from me, having had two major typhoons in only three years,” he added.
Aside from Torres, this year’s MIF was attended by Chuuk State Gov. Johnson S. Elimo, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Kosrae State Gov. Carson Sigrah, Yap State Gov. Henry Falan, Pohnpei State Gov. Marcelo K. Peterson, Marshall Islands Minister Amenta Mathew (Cultures & Internal Affairs), Nauru President Baron Waqa, Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., and FSM President David W. Panuelo. (PR)