HONOLULU 1 (EWC) — The Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL), which has been holding a two-day virtual meeting, has unanimously selected Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David W Panuelo to serve as the body’s new chairperson.

Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo expressed gratitude to the other leaders on behalf of his nation. “We take your vote of confidence seriously and look to you for your continued guidance and support,” he said.

“To me, this meeting of leaders also reinforces the true meaning of regionalism and the Pacific Way … keeping in mind that its membership is one of the largest and most genuinely inclusive in the Pacific region, including sovereign nations, as well as territories and the state of Hawai’i. All are integral and active players in regional affairs, and our combined efforts are necessary to ensure that regional matters of interest and necessity, such as the existential threat of climate change, are sincerely and quickly addressed. Let’s take actions today for our regional and global prosperity tomorrow.”

The leaders also endorsed Dr Mary Therese Perez Hattori as interim director of the multilateral body’s Secretariat, the Pacific Islands Development Programme (PIDP), based at the East-West Centre (EWC) in Honolulu. In addition, they voted to hold an in-person meeting in 2022, and again in 2025. Historically, the summit has convened approximately every three years.

The leaders voted to endorse Dr Hattori—whom East-West Center President Dr Richard R. Vuylsteke recommended to the body as a “capable, dedicated, and impactful leader”—as interim director of the Pacific Islands Development Program until the PICL’s scheduled 2025 meeting. At that point a permanent director will be selected by competitive process in accordance with PIDP’s founding documents.

Dr Hattori, a specialist in educational technology who is a native Chamoru of Guåhan (Guam), has served as PIDP’s acting director since December. Previously, she was a scholarship specialist in the East-West Center Education Programme…. PACNEWS

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