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Regional News

UN official discusses multi-country office with FSM vice president

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Service) — On March 18, Yosiwo P. George, vice president of the Federated States of Micronesia, met with Sanaka Samarasinha, the United Nation’s resident coordinator for the Pacific Region.

The purpose of the meeting, among other issues, was to gather feedback and information regarding a potential U.N. Multi-Country Office or MCO, of which the FSM, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, and the Republic of Kiribati requested during the 19th Micronesian Presidents Summit in February 2019.

“There isn’t a specific proposal in place yet…we’re in the data-gathering phase, the understanding phase…what would an MCO in the North Pacific look like?” said Samarasinha. “The bottom-line is: how do we [the United Nations] serve you, as a country?”

“We are anticipating a lot of changes in 2023 that we’re not quite ready for,” said Vice President George. “Our development isn’t at a level that we hope for… An MCO is something that can help, but what we would really like to see more of is more technical assistance from the U.N.” Vice President George reiterated the FSM’s request that the U.N. be more present in the FSM and the broader Micronesian region.

“From our standpoint,” said Amy Chen, a U.N. consultant, “we’d like to understand where the UN currently serves the FSM very well, where it can be improved, and what are the services you need…. Regarding the statement about the FSM needing the U.N. to be more present…what does that mean in this context?”

FSM Vice President George, center, poses with U.N. representatives and consultants.  FSMIS photoFSM Vice President George, center, poses with U.N. representatives and consultants. FSMIS photo

Gillian Doone, assistant director for the Office of Overseas Development Assistance, spoke in detail about how the U.N. had previously assisted the FSM with on-the-ground capacity-building and project implementation, e.g. U.N. volunteers had at one point assisted Yap State with their strategic development plan.

“We have trouble with the lack of technical know-how in accessing funding, for example the Green Climate Fund and Climate Adaptation Fund,” said Vice President George. “On-the-ground assistance is something we need.”

“Has anyone ever offered to the FSM that one or two of your people can sit in the Bangkok [Thailand] or Suva [Fiji] offices where the funds are being managed?” asked Samarasinha. “Is that something you’d be interested in, if we can find a way to make it happen?” Vice President George and the other FSM national government attendees were not aware of any previous offer of this kind.

“If that would help enable us to access funding, yes,” said Vice President George.

“One opportunity we have is…the U.N. Pacific Partnership Strategy,” said Samarasinha. The U.N. Pacific Partnership Strategy conference is planned to occur on or around April 22, 2019. “We’ll send you in a week or two a sort of mini report [based on what the U.N. has done in Micronesia in 2018], and in April…we’ll work together and try to come up with a plan that is specific for FSM in 2019 and 2020.”

The FSM national government is strengthening its partnership with the U.N. as one component of its ongoing commitment towards serving the needs of the citizens of the Micronesian nation. The FSM has been a member of the U.N. since Sept. 17, 1991.