Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Help and Support Project "Island Warrior"

Since 9/11, a wave of citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) have been enlisting in the United States military exceeding military recruiters enlistment quotas and expectations. Nathan Fitch, who served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Kosrae, is currently working on a feature documentary film, “Island Soldier that tells the stories of young Kosraeans serving in the U.S. armed forces.  

Formerly apart of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, through the Compact of Free Association (COFA), FSM gained independence and established a relationship with the U.S. in 1986. Through the COFA, FSM receives US aid, access to many services, also allowing migrants free access to the US and its territories. Being the newest wave of migrants to the U.S., they remain misunderstood and have become an identifiable group often leaving their contributions, success stories and sacrifices unwarranted and unrecognized.

In Kosrae where the population is relatively small, a significant proportion of young Micronesians with military interests are signing up to work for Uncle Sam in search for a better employment and educational opportunities. The documentary centers on the reality of various members of the Nena family, that shares their personal stories of how their experiences with the military have marked and shaped their lives.

While young Micronesians are immersed in all aspects of military life -- undertaking certain military tasks may carry grave risks in which fatality rates are one of the highest for Micronesians than anywhere else in the U.S. per capita.

To help raise funds for Fitch and his film crew to continue with production as funding is one of the undeniably biggest obstacles getting any film over ground, your support through Kickstarter will enable them to bring to screen a story that reflects the potentially heavy price and impact of citizens from a small and yet young Nation who have served and are currently serving in the U.S. military.

For the trailer for this project and to help raise funds, CLICK HERE

Monday, October 5, 2015

President Christian Addresses Climate Change, Peace and Security in the UN General Assembly

New York, October 1, 2015. President Peter Christian addressed the 70th United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly, emphasizing the impacts of climate change and the need for cohesive action to save the low lying Pacific Islands, including the Federated States of Micronesia. “We must become more cohesive in our actions to bring a useful conclusion to help mitigate the threat of sinking islands and prevent the potential genocide of Oceanic peoples and cultures,” he declared.  He noted FSM’s dedicated contribution to international efforts in saving the world through the Micronesia Challenge initiative and continued commitment to phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

President Christian voiced hope that the upcoming international climate change conference in Paris in December would resolve the disagreements over allowable emissions of greenhouse gases by industrial nations.
On the issue of peace and security, President Christian demanded that the U.N. and the International community to make this world a peaceful place for all. He noted that in the 20th century, FSM experienced four decades of armed conflicts; conflicts in which FSM had no interest to take part in but which were brought to the Micronesian shorelines by powerful countries seeking expanded political power and influence.
President Christian urged nations who once stood against each other in conflicts to stand together with FSM today and to forgive for the sake of a peaceful tomorrow. “Together, let us promote friendship, partnership, and cooperation as our collective strength for the future.”

The President said U.N. members should focus their attention on the collective challenges facing the international community. “We have enough common enemies today, enemies that have no respect for culture, boundaries, religion, or social status; climate change, sea level rise, poverty, hunger and famine, illiteracy and incurable diseases, genocide and human trafficking, economic imbalance, and apathy. These are our challenges of today.” 

The President called on the international community in the United Nations to divert its energy and anger for things past toward the common challenges facing the world today. 
President Christian concluded his statement by urging the international community to unite strongly and take actions to overcome the common issues facing the world today in order to create a safe and peaceful world for all mankind. 

Full statement and recording available: Click here for full statement
UN Press Release available here: Click here

President Christian and FSM Delegation Participate in Formal Launch of SIDS Dock

(United Nation Headquarters, New York, September 30, 2015). President Peter Christian participated in the formal ceremony to launch SIDS Dock, the first global intergovernmental organization of island nations with the full powers and privileges of the United Nations (U.N.). In his remarks, the President expressed FSM’s support for the goals of SIDS Dock, which are to transform energy sectors in small island developing states (SIDS), to catalyze sustainable development and to help generate financial resources for climate change adaptation. 

The President was joined at the event by FSM Ambassador to the U.N. Jane Chigiyal, newly-confirmed FSM Ambassador to China Carl Apis, FSM Ambassador to the U.S. Asterio Takesy, Director of Environment and Emergency Management Andrew Yatilman, Deputy Permanent Representative Jeem Lippwe, and Assistant Secretary of Budget and Economic Management Eugene Amor.  

The ceremony was presided over by Ralph Everard Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Acting Chair of SIDS Dock, who explained that it is called “SIDS Dock” because it is meant to be a “docking station,” to connect the energy sectors in SIDS with the global market for finance, sustainable energy technologies and carbon markets. 

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi also participated in the event and delivered remarks in support of SIDS Dock, especially its dedicated financial mechanism that will cut out the middleman, meaning that partners will be able assist SIDS directly and SIDS will not have to tailor project proposals to the different requirements of various agencies.

Other leaders, ministers and high-level representatives of both island countries and partner countries, including Austria, Denmark and Japan, participated in the ceremony as well. Also present were representatives of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other U.N. bodies and partner organizations like the Clinton Climate Initiative.

President Christian began his remarks by thanking the leaders of the SIDS Dock initiative and imparting a comical story. The President admitted that when he first heard about the initiative he did not know if it was “SIDS Dock” or “SIDS Duck.” Extending this play on words, he said, “Perhaps as sitting ducks, we become the target of a changing climate that is adverse to our lives. But as SIDS Dock, we build a platform upon which we can raise an umbrella to protect us from adverse climate.”  
President Christian then paused to offer condolences to the Caribbean nation of Dominica in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika and to express his hope that Dominica’s God-given resilience would assist efforts to overcome this disaster. 

After noting that FSM had signed the SIDS Dock Statute in September 2014 at the Third International SIDS Conference in Samoa, the President confirmed that FSM was committed to supporting the goals of the initiative. The President highlighted the importance of renewable energy to island economies and lives. He noted with disapprobation that island countries must spend so much of their cash on fossil fuels simply to keep alive the generators to power their industries, their homes and the facilities that need electricity.  

For these reasons, President Christian said that FSM was glad to see the dream of SIDS Dock become a reality, a formal institution and “in effect, our platform to seek survival.”

Typhoon Maysak Donation Drive

Following the Emergency Declaration of Chuuk State and Yap State soon after Super Typhoon Maysak ravaged the western islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the FSM Embassy in Tokyo convened traditional supporters and friends at the Embassy to give a briefing on the damages and call for assistance. The Embassy also coordinated with the FSM’s Honorary Consulate Offices in Hokkaido, Kansai, and Kyushu for donation drives in their respective regions.

As of September 25, 2015, the donations gathered from all over Japan stands at Yen 5,452,055 ($44,912.71). These donations are from the non-government & non-profit organizations, friendship associations, local governments, private companies, fisheries associations, schools, private individuals, friends and traditional supporters, who have close affiliations with the Federated States of Micronesia. Though donations from the Government of Japan were made in the early recovery stage, these donations are purely from the private individuals and friends of the FSM.

In his thank you letters to the donors, after closing the donation drive project, Ambassador Fritz expressed his Government’s appreciation to all the donors for their kind assistance to the people of FSM, especially to the two States affected by Typhoon Maysak, and assured that their donations will put to good use for the people and recovery of the affected areas. Fritz further noted that the donations are true evidence of the goodwill and historic ties that our two people have.  

The donations were wire-transferred to the account for Typhoon Maysak at the National Government on September 25, 2015.

Prepared by FSM Embassy Tokyo

Saturday, October 3, 2015

MiCare Public Announcement (10/2/15)

The 2013 MiCare and Genesis agreement has been re-instated temporarily until 31 December 2015. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Direction and Leadership for the Micronesia Conservation Trust

The Micronesia Conservation Trust Board and management staff met in Guam at the Ernst & Young Office from September 23-25, 2015 to adopt a new 3 year (2016-2018) Strategic Action Plan for the organization and to organize its Board of Trustees. The organization, which was established in 2002 to support local, national and regional programs for biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation and sustainable development for the people of Micronesia, adopted a new vision "Enduring partnerships that conserve our land and sea to improve quality of life for communities across Micronesia" and will focus on three main impact areas including Conservation, Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods.  Outgoing Board Chairman, Mr. Kembo Mida, Esq., stated "MCT strives to be a world class organization, that is truly Micronesia". This basically represents that the MCT Board and management work hard to meet the requirements of international donors in order to bring more financial and technical resources to the region, while maintaining its ability to prioritize and focus on the needs and aspirations of  local communities by making its programs highly accessible to them.

 At the meeting, the Board and the senior management team, William Kostka, Executive Director, Lisa Andon, Deputy Executive Director, and Meileen Albert, Finance Officer, were able to finalize  MCT's 2014 annual audit with Ernst & Young, as well as receiving an update on MCT's investment portfolio from Jason Miyashita and Maree Pelkey of the Asia Pacific Group of Raymond James.

During its three day meeting, the Board also welcomed three new Trustees, including former Lt. Governor Diego Benavente of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Mr. Haser Hainrick, current Public Auditor for the Federated States of Micronesia, and Mr. Julian Aguon Esq., a private lawyer in Guam whose practice focuses on international and regional human rights laws.

The Board and staff also bid farewell to two of its greatest leaders who had each served two full terms over the past six years. Mr. Kembo Mida, who had served as Chairman for the past two years, and Mrs. Denise Adams Boylan, representing the private sector, who served as the organization's Board Treasurer. They leave the organization in the capable hands of the new leadership of Chairwoman Doreen deBrum, Assistant Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Vice Chairman Elbuchel Sadang, Minister for the Ministry of Finance for the Republic of Palau, Mr. Jared Morris, CEO of the FSM Petroleum Corporation/Vital as Secretary and Mr. Haser Hainrick as Treasurer.

The MCT Board of Trustees has four standing committees which include the Governance Committee, Chaired by Trina Leberer, the new Director of The Nature Conservancy's Pacific Program. Members of the Governance Committee include Julian Aguon and Doreen Debrum. The Finance, Audit and Investment Committee is Chaired by the new Board Treasurer Haser Hainrick, with Finance Minister Elbuchel Sadang, and International Trustee Megumi Araki, currently with Japan's Association for the Promotion of International Cooperation and formerly with the Asian Development Bank. The Partnership and Development Committee is Chaired by Carlotta Leon Guerrero, formerly the President of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures while serving in the Guam Legislature and currently with the Ayuda Foundation, a humanitarian organization in Guam who has been very active in the Maysak and Saudeleur typhoon recovery efforts in Chuuk, Yap and the CNMI. Diego Benavente and International Trustee Dan Martin,  formerly with the MacArthur Foundation and based in Washington DC, are the members of this committee. And finally, the Technical Committee, which is currently chaired by Jared Morris with Trina Leberer as member. MCT's Technical Committee is the only committee which includes non-Board member scientists, community experts, and academics etc.  to assist MCT with its grant-making and capacity building programs. 

"Along with its numerous community development programs, MCT was selected in 2006 by the Presidents and Governors of the Micronesia Governments and the Global Environment Facility-United Nations Environment Programme, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International to serve as the financial mechanism for the Micronesia Challenge Endowment Fund( We now manage an ~$18,000,000 endowment for the Micronesia Challenge. The Board and management take this responsibility very seriously and have made sure over the years to have appropriate leadership, systems and processes in place in order to assist the Micronesia Governments succeed in delivering on this initiative, which they made as part of their commitments to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and their gift to the world", says Chairwoman Doreen deBrum.

President Christian Addresses High-Level Event on Women’s Empowerment

United Nations Headquarters, New York, September 27, 2015

FSM President Peter Christian delivered remarks at the ‘Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment,’ a high-level event at the beginning of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting, which was co-hosted by the People’s Republic of China and UN Women (the United Nations’ gender equality body), was part of the three-day High-Level Sustainable Development Summit at which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted.

President Christian began his remarks by thanking the organizers of the event, President Xi Jinping of China and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Both President Xi and the Secretary-General announced their commitments to enhance gender parity, including China’s pledge to scale up financial and technical assistance to developing countries. 
In the first half of his statement, President Christian reflected on the successes achieved under the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals, but said countries must move forward without delay on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. He called for leaders to commit to intensify efforts to reach the targeted development goals before their time.  
He highlighted FSM’s Strategic Development Plan, which encompasses the participation of women in all spheres of FSM’s nation building efforts, and the Gender Strategic Planning Matrix. He pointed out that these could benefit from more extended effort by the United Nations to review the process.

President Christian confirmed FSM’s commitment to pursue the unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals with more vigor. At the same time, FSM will also focus on a cross-cutting effort to fulfill Sustainable Development Goal 5 (“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”) 

In conclusion, FSM will strive to reach its goals for women’s empowerment as soon as possible, but will require adequate resources and human capacity to progress as fast as larger nations. President Christian urged all nations to work collectively and travel the path of this noble challenge together.

Monday, September 28, 2015

FSM and China Sign the Biggest Grant Assistance

Palikir, Pohnpei (Department of Foreign Affairs):  On Friday, September 18, 2015, a signing ceremony took place at the President’s conference room between Acting Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carlson D. Apis and Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, H.E. Li Jie. The ceremony was witnessed by President Peter M. Christian, Vice President Yosiwo P. George and key staff of the National Government. The ceremony was on a grant assistance of about RMB 63,850,000 (equivalent of about more than 10 million US dollars) from the Chinese Government to the FSM. The gratuitous assistance is by far the biggest assistance granted from China to the FSM. The purpose of the assistance is for the provision of 15 vehicles and other projects agreed between the two parties.

Prior to the signing of the agreements, Ambassador Li called on President Christian and Vice President George. He thanked the President of the opportunity to convey the grant assistance to the FSM on behalf of the Chinese Government. He further stated that the assistance is timely delivered to the FSM during its transition period and hoped that the FSM Government will prioritize projects to utilize the assistance.

President Christian expressed his gratitude to the China government, through Ambassador Li, for the generous support and assured Ambassador Jie that he is confident that the provisions will be allocated and utilized efficiently. He further acknowledged that the good gesture of generosity is a sign of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. He further stated that the grant assistance will certainly contribute to the FSM’s ongoing nation building efforts. President Christian assured Ambassador Li that the time delivery of the provision of the fifteen vehicles to the FSM before the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in 2016 will be very much appreciated to assist the transportation needs during the important meeting.

President Christian further noted efforts on air transportation, in light of advancing accessibility to other countries with alternative services, and contributing the developing of the Yap International Airport into a more international standard airport to serve as a gateway to Asia.

For further information on this release, please contact Department of Foreign Affairs, APAMA Division at (691) 320-2613.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Secretary Kalwin Kephas attends Peace Corp-Micronesia Swear-in Ceremony

On Monday September 21, 2015, Secretary Kalwin Kephas of the FSM Department of Education represented President Peter M. Christian in a swear-in ceremony of new peace corp. volunteers, under its response program.

At the outset of his remark, Secretary Kephas thanked US Ambassador Doria Rosen and Peace Corp-Micronesia Director Robert Reid for the invitation extended for the FSM to participate in the ceremony. He welcomed the volunteers and congratulated them for their selection to be part of a program that represents America’s fundamental values and ideals, and has its roots in the promotion of world peace and friendship.

The Secretary
touched on the legacy of the program and its significant contribution to the global growth and prosperity of the United States and its peoples. A global growth that he stated is represented by the more than 200,000 Americans who have served in the program in over 140 countries. Noting the areas of assignment of the volunteers, Secretary Kephas confirmed the importance of the targeted sector areas to the FSM.

He stated that aid coordination is needed to ensure harmonization and streamlining of assistance; that information technology to support educational institutions is critical for effective and efficient information sharing and dissemination; that the role of the civil society in complimenting set development priorities is an indispensible part of economic growth for any country, including the FSM; that effective gathering of statistical data in the heath sector is needed to develop evidence-based decisions and policies. Lastly, the Secretary affirmed environmental health as an area that is also of importance to the FSM.

Working alongside people of the FSM, he encouraged the volunteers to have a rewarding and enriching experience on their respective tours. The Secretary also affirmed his desire and hope for the continued participation of the national government in such ceremonies as it provides an excellent opportunity for both parties (FSM and US) to acknowledge and highlight the people-to-people element of the partnership between the two countries. This, he affirmed, is very important and is a core pillar of the special friendship. He ended his remark by thanking the volunteers for their kind service.

The volunteers and their areas of assignments are as follow: Marshall Ferrin (Specialists in Aid Coordination, Pohnpei), Eric Muehling (Educational Website Support, Kosrae), Michelle Budwitz (Chuuk Women’s Council, Chuuk), Ronald Armstrong (Health Data, Yap) and Charles Pinkus (Environmental Health, Palau).


Monday, September 21, 2015

The Joint Economic Management Committee Holds Its Annual Meetin

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Office of the President, September 16, 2015) - On September 1, 2015, the Joint Economic Management Committee or JEMCO held its annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawai’i. At the meeting JEMCO approved three grant allocation resolutions.

The FSM request for the sector grants, excluding infrastructure, was $52,168,585 but only $50,835,415 was approved by JEMCO. The education and health budgets have been granted in full while cuts were made to the public sector capacity building, private sector development, and environment sectors.  The FSM JEMCO members stressed that the impact of these cuts, in what appear to be small grants, will be large at the State level. The committee’s final decision to cut funding to these sectors reflects a lack of sensitivity to the economic and financial situation in the States.

While the allocations to the education and health sectors are welcome and appear to be full grants, the FSM is disappointed that the previous 10 percent in operational grants allocated to the National Government, which the FSM Congress has redistributed to the States through amendment to the distribution formula in FY2015, have not been allowed by the US to be passed through to the operational budgets of the States. This withholding of $4 million in much needed funds to the States at a time of economic and financial stress is not in line with the spirit of the Amended Compact.  The FSM National Government is hopeful that for the FY2017 budget, JEMCO will increase the operational budgets of the States to the full amount they are entitled to under the Amended Compact.

The FSM requested a grant of $66.5 million for its infrastructure program.  This grant was to implement the first year of projects, as prioritized by the States, in the updated Infrastructure Development Plan 2015. The Plan is currently being finalized for endorsement later this month. However, the JEMCO resolution only provided for three projects – two in Pohnpei and one in Chuuk, totaling $16 million, which will be available after the Plan is completed. FSM National Government sees this as stalling the country’s economic recovery.

For the prior year unallocated sector grant assistance, the FSM States had requested $12,360,052 in project grants, but only $8,736,340 of grants are being approved by JEMCO. Once again, the withholding of funds from the States when every dollar counts towards their economic recovery, does not sit well with the FSM National Government   

Overall, the FSM was disappointed in the reaction of JEMCO to the urgent needs of the FSM. Our focus was on growing the economy by creating jobs through reinstating the infrastructure program and full allocation of FSM budget requests. The outcome on the other-hand, fell short of the FSM needs. While the FSM appreciates the focus on the social sectors, it is struggling to understand JEMCO’s strategy for achieving the key objectives of the Amended Compact of economic sustainability and budgetary self-reliance for FSM. 

For more detailed information about the 2015 Annual JEMCO meeting, please contact the FSM Compact Management Division at (691) 320-6260.