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Micronesian leaders gather on Guam for regional conference



By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Regional leaders and nearly 300 participants gathered for opening of the Micronesian Island Forum 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Guam.


This year, Guam is hosting the MIF, a regional intergovernmental organization composed of island nations and territories in the Micronesia subregion of the Pacific. MIF members include the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Guam, Nauru, the Northern Mariana Islands, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae).


Since its establishment in 1994, MIF has held regular meetings. The most recent meeting was held in February 2023 in Pohnpei, FSM. 


“MIF leaders intend to strengthen Micronesia and advocate for our people and islands on the world stage as we face climate change and geopolitical tensions,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, newly elected MIF Chairperson. “Our hope is that the bonds between us as leaders grow stronger and that our alliances also turn into lasting friendships. Our islands may be small, but we are not. Like the Pacific Ocean, our resources are many, and our strength is great. Hand-in-hand, let us charge ahead to our destiny together.” 


Echoing that sentiment that there is strength in numbers, Chuuk State Governor Alexander R. Narruhn stated, “French explorer, Jules Dumont D'Urville, had truly misrepresented our vast and large oceanic region by coining our regional name ‘Micronesia,’ meaning tiny islands. Witnessing how far we’ve come along and leading our island governments together, today I must say there is nothing tiny and small about us.”In advance of the forum, regional committees met last week to discuss Workforce Development, Education, Health, Gender Equality, Tourism, and Transportation, among other groups.


The following groups presented today:

Workforce Development

  • Emerging issues: skills gaps between job applicants geared more towards professional, not vocational skills, aging workforce, and lack of current in-demand industries in the primary education curriculum

  • Proposed action: conduct an economic survey to determine job demands, wage levels, and working conditions, develop training programs for emerging industries, and develop a governmental-level incentive program for workforce development to entice businesses and employees to participate in the process of upskilling and retaining local workforce 


Education

  • Emerging issues: shortage of skilled workers (teachers, health practitioners), out migration, competition with online learning

  • Proposed action: support a Micronesian Regional Education Summit and provide college initiatives, explore the virtual college/university for the Pacific region, expand data sharing and research collaborative protocol 


Health

  • Emerging issues: health is one of the greatest challenges to our islands’ economic development and sustainability, the productive-age labor force is getting sicker and dying younger, which compounds existing labor force shortages and forces governments to be reliant on imported labor at significantly higher costs, health status cannot be addressed by the health sector alone

  • Proposed action: focus on extending healthcare and social services into the community through comprehensive wrap-around support services, employ community care navigators to work with families, and establishment of policy for the integration of services across government sectors and its partners to serve vulnerable at-risk communities, maximize technology, health workforce training with an emphasis establishing pathways for local workforce growth, targeted health career tracks for high school students, recruitment strategies, and retention efforts


Gender Equality 

  • Emerging issues: political will and resource mobilization, accountability, and streamlining and aligning of national, regional, and international commitments and reporting processes 

  • Proposed action: develop an oversight mechanism for the implementation of the MIF Gender Equality Framework and endorse in-country consultations for the development of the MIF Gender Equality Framework 


MIF 2024 will resume on Tuesday, focusing on cybersecurity. MIF 2024 is livestreamed on YouTube.com/@govlouguam (MIF)




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