Closing Remarks of Governor Arnold I. Palacios- 2024 Micronesian Islands Forum

As we bring this forum to a close, I thank you, Madame Chair, my fellow Marianas governor, for your leadership and hospitality, and all the leaders of Micronesia for coming together these past few days in the spirit of friendship and collaboration.

I thank as well the leaders and partners from beyond Micronesia who’ve joined us this week for dialogue and support on so many critical issues affecting our communities.  

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this forum. And I hope and urge that our fruitful discussions continue to develop into fruitful actions that make a positive difference in the lives of our people.

One major theme in our discussions this week is the vital role of air and sea transportation in connecting our island communities to each other and to the world.

Efficient and reliable transportation is the lifeline of our economies. It’s essential for trade, tourism, and the sharing of knowledge and culture.

It must remain at the forefront of our collective agenda.

And as I said at the beginning of this forum – we’ve done it before, with Air Micronesia. We did it with shipping too.

Talk about workforce development: with the support of the United States and other partners like UMDA and training institutions in Japan and Korea, Micronesians ran transportation lines across our region.

They were flight attendants, station managers, mechanics, captains. I remember Captain Robert de Brum from the Marshalls and Nauru, Captain Elias Okamura from Palau, Captain George Fleming from Yap and the Marianas.

We’ve done it before, we can do it again. We can do it even better this time, with new technology, industries, goods and services.

We can lead the way to net zero emissions aviation and maritime transportation.

We can develop our transportation workforce through regional boot camps, certification programs, technical schools, and on the job training.

We can work in solidarity as a region to foster competition and break up the monopolies and cabotage restrictions that are stifling our development.   

The potential is limitless, but we need to start somewhere. We can use this forum to develop a blueprint for a regional transportation system, air and sea. Let’s start there. 

On that note I support the calls to strengthen the capacity of the Micronesian Islands Forum through permanent staffing and the hiring of a professional Secretary General.

I echo the urging of our Chair yesterday, for the U.S. State Department and Department of the Interior to provide additional resources for permanent staffing for the MIF.

This forum offers a unique and vital platform, to elevate the priorities of Micronesia and amplify our voices.

To be more effective, we need to invest in good management and staff.

We need to invest in each other, and in this shared forum so that we are stronger on the global stage.

When we go before other regional and international bodies, we are champions for Micronesia.        

I’m pleased to share that I received yesterday the letter from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, confirming the support of the United States government for acceptance of the CNMI and Guam into the Pacific Islands Forum as associate members.

I am grateful for the advocacy of our Micronesian brothers and sisters to have us included in the PIF as well.

Though as U.S. territories we will not have a vote in the PIF, we will add to the collective voice of Micronesia in promoting our common interests and helping each other.   

I look forward to seeing you all again and continuing our work together in the near future at the Pacific Islands Forum in August.

Following the PIF, I’d also like to invite you to the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting that we are hosting on Saipan on November 12-15.

We will focus on a number of issues discussed in this forum – including climate action, the health of our marine ecosystems, and coral reefs as critical infrastructure.

Beyond November, I offer the commitment of the CNMI to facilitate further discussion and planning for that regional transportation system.

The CNMI is also ready and willing to help our brothers and sisters in Micronesia to launch their own Green Growth programs for sustainable development. We are also new to Green Growth, and we can learn together. 

Much has been said or alluded about the geopolitical tensions in our region. Much has also been said about our shared history, and the cultural and economic ties that have sustained us for generations.

In Micronesia, we are family. Beyond political status and boundaries, a strong, connected, and united Micronesia is key to security and peace in our region


Office of CNMI Governor and Lt. Governor
Close this search box.
Skip to content