Secretary Jewell Discusses Administration's Work to Strengthen Insular Areas' Economies and Communities at Annual Interagency Group Meeting

Insular Affairs  Office of the Secretary

Interior Hosts Plenary Session of Island Leaders and Federal Officials

Last edited 4/26/2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today joined Governors and Congressional representatives from each of the U.S. Insular Areas at the annual meeting of the Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA), hosted by the Department of the Interior, to discuss how the Obama Administration can support Insular Area governments' efforts to grow their economies, create jobs, increase skills training and improve education.

The IGIA 2014 Senior Plenary Session, co-chaired by Secretary Jewell and White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, focused on a wide range of challenges facing island territories and provided an opportunity for further discussion on initiatives meant to strengthen energy, health systems and tourism marketing in the insular areas. The island governors were also in Washington to attend the annual National Governors' Conference, and the Western Governors Breakfast.

“The Obama Administration knows that engagement with the elected leaders of the governments of U.S. Insular Areas is one of the most important intergovernmental relationships we have as a nation,” Secretary Jewell told island leaders. “The federal family is committed to working collaboratively with the islands' Chief Executives, Members of Congress, and other elected officials to carry out the initiatives needed to improve the lives of our fellow Americans living in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.”

The IGIA meeting seeks to showcase the work of the various federal agencies in the Territories, further builds on interagency collaboration and efforts spearheaded by the Department of the Interior, through its Office of Insular Affairs, and helps to facilitate dialogue on critical policy issues identified by the insular area Governors and Delegates.

Island leaders participating in today's discussions include US Virgin Islands Congresswoman Donna Christensen; Governor of Guam Eddie Calvo; Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo; Governor of Northern Marianas Eloy Inos; Northern Marianas Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan. The American Samoa's Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale attended on behalf of Governor Lolo Moliga, who fell ill while in Washington. Chief Counsel Fili Sagapolutele from the Office of American Samoa Congressman Eni Faleomavaega also represented the Congressman.

This year's federal presentations included:

Brand USA – Leveraging Resources for Tourism Branding, & Marketing
Christopher L. Thompson, President and CEO, BrandUSA

Created under the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, as a public-private partnership, BrandUSA is the official destination marketing organization of the federal government, whose mission is to encourage increased international visitation to the U.S. and grow the U.S. share of the global tourism market.

Health & Human Services – The Affordable Care Act in the Territories
Paul Dioguardi, Director, Intergovernmental Affairs, HHS

Carol Jimenez, Sr. Advisor, CMS, Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight

Discussion on the application of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the territories and update on the current status.

U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Technologies in the Territories
Jennifer DeCesaro, Acting Director of Technology-to-Market,

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Energy

Discussion on challenges related to the commercialization and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the territories.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Collaboration in the Territories
Scott Haase, NREL/DOI Energy Program Manager
Update on DOI-NREL energy collaboration in the three Pacific territories

Photos from the event are available here.

In August, Secretary Jewell traveled to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to deliver remarks on behalf of the United States at the Pacific Islands Forum Dialogue. She was the first Interior Secretary to participate in the Dialogue. Her remarks, as prepared for delivery, are available here.

# # #