On September 28-29, 2022, during the first-ever U.S.- Pacific Island Country Summit hosted by President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken announced that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will expand its presence and programming to benefit Pacific Islanders by re-establishing its regional mission for the Pacific in Fiji and elevating its presence in Papua New Guinea to a Country Representative Office, subject to Congressional notification.
The Summit convened Pacific Island countries and territories to increase collaboration on the key issues of climate change, people-centered development, pandemic response, economic recovery, trade, maritime security, and environmental protection.
USAID partners with 12 countries to provide humanitarian and development assistance across the Pacific Islands. From responding to urgent needs in Kiribati in the wake of drought, to increasing energy access in Papua New Guinea, helping countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and building resilience to adapt to the climate crisis, USAID works to advance a more democratic, prosperous, and resilient Pacific region, aligned to the USAID Strategic Framework and the U.S. Roadmap for a 21st-Century U.S.-Pacific Island Partnership.
USAID has numerous initiatives to help to build resilience in Pacific Island Countries. For example:
- USAID’s Pacific American Fund (PAF) seeks to bolster communities’ resilience to disasters and climate risks; enhance livelihoods; improve food security, access to water, health and education; support governance; and encourage sustainable natural resources management and biodiversity conservation. In 2023, USAID intends to award a new round of grants with a value of up to $6 million.
- USAID will invest $1.1 million in the Indo-Pacific Opportunity Project (IPOP) – Assistance for Pacific Island Countries activity in 2022. IPOP will strengthen Pacific Island countries’ abilities to manage domestic financial resources to respond to economic shocks, improving capacity to better plan for, finance, implement, and manage infrastructure investments.
- The Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership (PEP) is a multilateral partnership with Australia, Japan, and New Zealand that seeks to expand energy access in Papua New Guinea, and could also provide a framework for expanding this partnership throughout the Pacific Islands. Through an investment of $18 million, USAID will increase the region’s access to affordable and clean energy, improve the performance of energy utilities, promote transparent private sector investments in the energy sector, and expand off-grid clean energy systems in the region.
- Through the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, USAID will enhance the digital transformation of the Pacific Islands by providing an additional $3.5 million to improve broadband access, strengthen digital policy and regulations, advance digital government and increase digital skills and literacy, which will help boost the regional economy and connectivity.
- Building on the over $57 million in COVID-19 pandemic assistance that USAID has provided to the region since 2020, USAID plans to invest $5 million in Global Health Security funds, subject to availability, to strengthen prevention, detection, and response capacities in Pacific Island Countries to minimize threats posed by emerging infectious diseases.
USAID is a committed partner with the Pacific Island countries. The continued partnership aims to bolster the Pacific Islanders’ own economic and social development priorities, including in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, and will maintain a people-centered and locally-led approach, respecting the Pacific way.