The International Secretary and I were invited to attend the Pacific Day Seminar hosted by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC, where we represented PPSEAWA.
Pacific Day was sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and is presented annually in order to strengthen the Pacific Partners Initiative, which focuses on US engagement with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Pacific Day was hosted by the Washington Pacific Committee, comprised of Embassies and Offices of Pacific Island Nations, States and Territories in Washington and New York.
The seminar featured a keynote address by the Hon. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and current Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, who spoke on “Pacific Island policy challenges”. It was followed by remarks of Hon. Hersey Kyota, Ambassador of Palau to the United States and Dean of the Pacific Diplomatic Corps.
His topic was the “Micronesia Challenge”, which is an initiative to achieve more effective conservation of marine and forest resources in the northwest Pacific. The speeches were followed by a panel discussion which consisted of Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Faipule Salesio Lui, the Ulu of Tokelau; Edgar Kagan, US deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Affairs; Craig Hawke, Head of the New Zealand Aid Program; and Adam Schumacher, Director of the Office of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, USAID. The panel discussed such issues as renewable energy, climate change and fisheries.
The meeting ended with a reception which featured entertainers from Australia, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, and Samoa, with food and beverages from Australia, Hawaii, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.