Palikir, Pohnpei-- Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo said he is confident the Marshall Islands will adequately represent the Micronesian subregion at the climate change summit to be hosted by the United States next week.
U.S. President Joe Biden has invited 40 nations to the summit scheduled for April 22 and 23, but the Marshall Islands was the only Pacific Island country that made it to the list.
According to a press release from the White House, Biden invited the heads of other countries that "are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy."
Panuelo told Marshall Islands President David Kabua that FSM “has total and absolute confidence in the Marshall Islands to represent the FSM and the broader Micronesian subregion.”
“When the Marshall Islands speaks at the summit with President Biden and other leaders, the world will know that the position of the Marshall Islands is also the position of the FSM and our Micronesian subregion,” Panuelo said during the convening of the Micronesians Presidents Summit on April 14.
According to the White House, the climate change summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP.
Marshall Islands' representation to the climate change summit, however, has raised eyebrows in the fragmented region.
Marshalls Islands is no longer a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, following its withdrawal from the bloc along with FSM, Palau, Nauru and Kiribati, withdrew
"The glaring concern is the fact that there is only one Pacific Island country included and this is a concern because Pacific Island countries have been part of previous international discussions on climate change," Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, director of the center of Pacific Islands studies at the University of Hawaii, said in an interview with ABC Radio Australia.
Beyond the ongoing discussions regarding the Micronesian subregion’s grievances with the Forum, the Micronesian Presidents discussed numerous other topics of import, including each country’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Palau’s limited sterile corridor for its tourism sector, and extensive discussion regarding the upcoming climate summit.
FSM announced it will officially join the Local 2030 IslandsNetwork, culminating its partnership with the Hawai’i Green Growth Local 2030 Hub in 2019. The FSM seeks to expand its regional networking while in the process of withdrawing from the Pacific Islands Forum. According to its website, the Local 2030 Islands Network “brings together a diverse set of island nations, states, and communities from all regions of the world— islands tied together by their shared island experience, cultures, strengths and challenges.” The network “aims to promote island solutions and leadership based on shared island experiences and perspectives” and “supports opportunities for islands to learn and share local implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
“With the overarching objective of addressing climate change and sustainability, it is the view of the FSM national government that its membership in the Local 2030 Islands Network will strengthen existing climate and sustainability-focused partnerships and initiatives, such as with the Micronesia Conservation Trust, Micronesia Challenge and Blue Prosperity Micronesia,” states a press release from the Office of the FSM President. Andrew Yatilman, secretary of the Department of Environment, Climate Change & Emergency Management, said his department will serve as the “FSM’s focal point for the Local 2030 Islands Network.”