HONOLULU (July 21, 2021) – During a trip to Honolulu this week for defense talks with US officials, His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), visited the East-West Center (EWC) on July 19, where he met with the Center’s president along with the director of the Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP), which is headquartered at the EWC.

During a recent virtual summit meeting, President Panuelo was elected Chairman of the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders, which normally meets every few years at the EWC. PIDP serves as the body’s Secretariat.

Investing in the future through education

President Panuelo and Dr. Richard Vuylsteke

In his meeting with EWC President Dr. Richard R. Vuylsteke, Panuelo expressed his nation’s appreciation for EWC’s contribution to Pacific development. “Our people and government fully support the East-West Center, which has contributed to our nation-building process, including the educational development of our founding fathers,” he said. “A strengthened EWC is equivalent to a strengthened Pacific.”

Dr. Vuylsteke emphasized that one of the best ways to invest in the future is through education. “For six decades the EWC has been pleased to host thousands of Pacific Islanders in its student, training, professional development, and conference programs. We are delighted that so many of these participants now hold leadership positions across the region, and we are committed to continue building on this rich tradition.”

Building an Indigenous research hub

President Panuelo and the PIDP team. Pictured from left to right: Dr. James Perez Viernes, H.E. President David W. Panuelo, Dr. Mary Hattori, and Ms. Tolua Samifua.

The Pacific Islands Development Program’s interim director, Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori, told Panuelo about efforts underway to build PIDP into a go-to hub for Indigenous Pacific research. “We feel PIDP is uniquely positioned to serve as one of many global hubs for research conducted by, with, and for the benefit of, Indigenous communities,” Hattori said. “Our growing network of professionals, both near and far, are developing approaches to research that bring to the fore Indigenous wisdom and ways of being which can serve as powerful models for the world.”

“The FSM is truly grateful for PIDP’s historical efforts in supporting our nation and the Pacific at large,” Panuelo responded. “It is wonderful to see PIDP become reinvigorated through additional support from the US Congress and increasing awareness and utilization by other Pacific Islands. In my capacities as President of the FSM and Chair of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, I will do everything that I possibly can to ensure that PIDP becomes a font of knowledge and training opportunities for men and women across the Pacific.”

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. 

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).