U.S. Engagement in Pacific Islands: 2020 Pacific Pledge

The United States considers the Pacific Islands to be important partners in fostering a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and we greatly value our historical ties, strong economic links, and mutual cooperation towards a brighter future.

In 2019, we announced more than $100 million in new U.S. assistance to the region under the Pacific Pledge of the Indo-Pacific Strategy. This assistance represents the U.S. commitment to the Pacific Islands, an essential part of this dynamic and strategically located region.

In 2020, we are pleased to announce more than $200 million in new funding as part of the Pacific Pledge. This figure includes more than $78 million in new programming across the Indo-Pacific Pillars and $130 million in support for the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance is in addition to the approximately $350 million that U.S. agencies invest annually in projects, assistance, and operations to build a more prosperous future for people in the Pacific Island region. Under the Pacific Pledge, we will continue to broaden our efforts to partner with the Pacific Islands on their most pressing challenges, including on economic and environmental resilience, maritime security, and good governance.

This new assistance announced as part of the 2020 Pacific Pledge includes:

Indo-Pacific Economic Pillar ($69.8 million)

  • More than $10 million in new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding for the Pacific American Fund will provide grants for organizations in 12 Pacific Island countries to create and implement innovative solutions for Pacific Island countries’ development challenges. The Pacific American Fund will help respond to community-identified priorities that advance economic opportunity, human development, climate resilience, and improved natural resource management across the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. (This is in addition to $3 million in funding for the Pacific American Fund provided through the U.S. response on COVID-19 to address the non-health impacts of COVID-19 for the region’s most vulnerable communities.)
  • USAID is beginning a $25 million Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Program focusing on Malaita Province in Solomon Islands. The SCALE Program will strengthen the enabling environment to unlock economic opportunity and increase trade; improve natural resource management, including forest governance; promote agribusiness and small enterprise development; and expand critical small-scale infrastructure and essential services.
  • An additional $1 million from USAID for the Papua New Guinea Electrification Partnership will strengthen the effectiveness and viability of PNG Power Limited, promote off-grid models, strengthen energy regulatory systems, catalyze private-sector investment, and conduct effective public outreach.
  • USAID will provide $2 million for a regional fisheries activity to establish monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) systems for fisheries; implement data-driven enforcement plans; set up marine protected areas (MPA) and MPA partnership networks; design improvement and sustainable management programs; diversify economies of coastal communities; and improve documentation of stocks and catches, such as seafood traceability systems. In addition, nearly $650,000 of USAID funding for a fisheries activity in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC) will improve the management of coastal fisheries resources related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which includes improved capacity to conduct effective MCS, strengthened policy focus on coastal fisheries and implementation, and increased engagement with civil society.
  • USAID will provide over $4.6 million for a new sustainable landscapes activity in Papua New Guinea that will deliver technical assistance and training to improve land use governance; transparency, awareness, and the rights of people and communities on issues related to natural resource management (NRM) and land use; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and increase the sustainability of NRM.
  • Over $17 million for a new USAID Disaster Resilience in the Compact Nations (RESILIENCE) activity will increase governance capacity for disaster management and expedite the delivery of preparedness, relief, and reconstruction assistance to respond to U.S. presidentially declared disasters in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. RESILIENCE will provide technical assistance and training to increase disaster preparedness and management capacity. It will maintain prepositioned assets, such as emergency supplies and electrical generators, and deliver those and other resources for life-saving and early recovery assistance. Of the total $17 million, $15 million is from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Typhoon Wutip reconstruction in the Federated States of Micronesia.
  • The State Department is partnering with the Treasury Department on a $2 million U.S. grant to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Center (PFTAC). Support for PFTAC’s macroeconomic and financial training and technical assistance programs will strengthen the resilience of Pacific Island economies against volatility associated with natural disasters and economic shocks such as COVID-19, ensuring public finances are sustainable and growth is inclusive.
  • The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced new support for the Pacific Islands for the first time in the Agency’s history. Specifically, the Agency is supporting PNG Power’s ICT network modernization in Papua New Guinea. In addition, USTDA intends to provide additional support to the Pacific Islands in the aviation, ICT, and port sectors over the coming year.
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Insular Affairs and Bureau of Reclamation continues to provide professional services to support water and power resiliency in the U.S. Freely Associated States in partnership with utility providers in the Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Projects completed in 2019 include water treatment assessment in Palau, hydraulic modeling in the RMI, and hydroelectric consultancy in the FSM. DOI will provide an additional $1.8 million funding for projects in 2021 that include drought resilience value planning and water treatment phase II in Palau, expanded hydraulic modeling and master planning for hydraulic modeling and sewer systems for the RMI, and a power scoping and inspection program in the FSM.
  • The State Department is supporting new environment programs, including $1 million to address illegal logging and associated trade in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea as well as a new partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard to support marine environmental response and protection efforts in the Pacific Islands in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP). The Suva-based Regional Environment Office awarded grants to improve sustainable management of fuelwood resources and increase community participation in waste management in Fiji. Finally, State Department assistance of $10 million announced last year for environmental resilience across the Pacific will be implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($5.2 million), U.S. Forest Service ($3 million), Environmental Protection Agency ($1.3 million), and Department of Energy ($500,000) to improve disaster preparedness and response, strengthen resilience of energy and transportation infrastructure, improve carbon sequestration, and more.
  • The State Department is working to empower women and girls in the U.S. Freely Associated States of Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau. A proposed $2 million partnership with the International Organization for Migration would provide training and networking opportunities to help women and girls address barriers to gender equality.
  • U.S. Embassy Suva awarded over $247,000 in small grants to boost economic resilience and women’s economic empowerment including launching the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) to support skills building and networking. U.S. Embassy Suva’s Economic Resilience grants will bolster local organizations and associations that are finding creative solutions to economic adversities caused by the pandemic, with a focus on projects related to developing tourism, entrepreneurship, and trade with the United States. This includes a new grant of $20,000 for the Pacific Tourism Association (SPTO) to work with small tourism businesses in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Tonga to build their capacities to respond to the new reality for tourists post-COVID.
  • The State Department is providing $200,000 in additional funding through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) to the Cultural Site Research Management Foundation, which will partner with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) National Archives to preserve the unique history and culture of Nan Madol, a significant historical and cultural tourist location in the FSM.

Indo-Pacific Governance Pillar ($3.7 million)

  • Nearly $1.5 million in USAID funding for a new regional counter-trafficking in persons activity will combat trafficking in persons in Pacific Island countries through reduction in vulnerability to trafficking, enhanced local and community-based mechanisms and strategies to prevent trafficking, improved protection services for victims and survivors, improved capacities to prosecute traffickers, and increased access to legal services and remedies by victims.
  • USAID will provide $1 million to the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) to advance citizen-responsive democratic governance in Pacific Island countries by providing technical assistance to empower traditionally marginalized stakeholders, promote transparency and accountability in elections and government, and, where appropriate, promote regional cooperation to share best practices across the region. This is in addition to $6 million announced for CEPPS in 2019 and $3 million in funding for CEPPS provided through the U.S. response on COVID-19 in the Pacific to counter disinformation and hate speech to support vulnerable and marginalized groups.
  • The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs awarded $700,000 to the Pacific Community (SPC) to improve public data and information on good governance and human rights and strengthen government institutions, including National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-up (NMIRF), and Parliaments, to advance and protect human rights and good governance.
  • The State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) is ensuring access to credible and independent news by giving media outlets in the Pacific Islands the ability to publish Associated Press (AP) content in English and New York Times (NYT) reporting in English and Mandarin free of charge. GEC continues to support efforts to strengthen local journalism through training and capacity-building engagements.
  • The State Department will fund a $250,000 training and capacity building program for new diplomats in the U.S. Freely Associated States of Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau to strengthen their skills including in diplomatic protocol, multilateral diplomacy, and foreign policy.

Indo-Pacific Security Pillar ($5.1 million)

  • Under its Section 333 authority to build capacity of partner nations, the Department of Defense (DOD) will provide $1 million to fund equipment purchases for counter-illicit drug trafficking operations in the U.S. Freely Associated States of Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau. This builds on last year’s announcement of $24.5 million in DOD funding to enhance law enforcement capabilities in the U.S. Freely Associated States.
  • For the first time ever Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programming of $500,000 each for maritime police units in Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu will be implemented by the U.S. Coast Guard to support maritime security training. Fiji, Tonga, and PNG will also continue to receive FMF allocations of $500,000 each to support training and equipment for their military forces.
  • As part of the Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP) announced last year, the State Department embedded a maritime domain awareness advisor to support the Palauan Ministry of Justice’s Division of Marine Law Enforcement. GDRP plans to embed a second advisor in Palau in fall 2020 to support capacity building of the Maritime Law Center and further development of the new Maritime Operations Center. A GDRP advisor will also be embedded at the Fiji Ministry of Defense and National Security.
  • The State Department intends to fund a SmartPorts Regional Workshop for port officials and key leaders from Pacific Island countries that addresses investment screening for critical infrastructure, economic viability of ports, supply chain management, and more.

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