Leaders also endorse Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori as interim director of the Conference’s Secretariat, the Pacific Islands Development Program

HONOLULU (June 2, 2021) – The Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL), which has been holding a two-day virtual meeting, has unanimously selected Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo to serve as the body’s new chairperson.

Panuelo expressed gratitude to the other leaders on behalf of his nation. “We take your vote of confidence seriously and look to you for your continued guidance and support,” he said. “To me, this meeting of leaders also reinforces the true meaning of regionalism and the Pacific Way … keeping in mind that its membership is one of the largest and most genuinely inclusive in the Pacific region, including sovereign nations, as well as territories and the state of Hawai’i. All are integral and active players in regional affairs, and our combined efforts are necessary to ensure that regional matters of interest and necessity, such as the existential threat of Climate Change, are sincerely and quickly addressed. Let’s take actions today for our regional and global prosperity tomorrow.”

The leaders also endorsed Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori as interim director of the multilateral body’s Secretariat, the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP), based at the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu. In addition, they voted to hold an in-person meeting in 2022, and again in 2025. Historically, the summit has convened approximately every three years.

Virtual Summit 

The leaders of 11 nations and territories across the Pacific are gathering virtually on June 1 and 2 Hawai‘i time (or June 2 and 3 west of the International Dateline) for the 11th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders summit. (View a special welcome video for the leaders.) The leaders are meeting privately, but news releases are being issued as information becomes available.

Leader Delegations

The leaders (or their designees) of the following countries and territories are participating in the meeting:

  • Cook Islands 
  • Federated States of Micronesia 
  • Fiji 
  • French Polynesia 
  • Guam 
  • Hawai‘i 
  • Marshall Islands 
  • Niue 
  • Northern Mariana Islands 
  • Palau 
  • Solomon Islands 

Endorsement of Interim PIDP Director

The leaders voted to endorse Dr. Hattori—whom East-West Center President Dr. Richard R. Vuylsteke recommended to the body as a “capable, dedicated, and impactful leader”—as interim director of the Pacific Islands Development Program until the PICL’s scheduled 2025 meeting. At that point a permanent director will be selected by competitive process in accordance with PIDP’s founding documents. 

Dr. Hattori, a specialist in educational technology who is a native Chamoru of Guåhan (Guam), has served as PIDP’s acting director since December. Previously, she was a scholarship specialist in the East-West Center Education Program.

About the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders: 
The Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders (PICL) summit was founded in 1980 by Hawaiʻi Gov. George Ariyoshi and Fijian statesman Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as a forum for Pacific Islands leaders—regardless of political status and without formal intergovernmental protocol—to address shared issues, learn from each other’s experiences, and develop common approaches to policy. The summit also provides opportunities for the leaders to dialogue with US officials and experts. 

About the Pacific Islands Development Program: 
The Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) conducts a broad range of activities to enhance the quality of life in the Pacific Islands. Based at the East-West Center in Honolulu, PIDP was formed in 1980 at the specific request of the region’s leaders to help advance their collective efforts to achieve and sustain equitable social and economic development. PIDP also serves as the Secretariat for the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders and is a member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP).

About the East-West Center:
The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.