Assistant Secretary Cantor Highlights Infrastructure and Ecosystem Investments in Visit to the Pacific Islands

Last edited 12/13/2023

Date: Friday, December 8, 2023

WASHINGTON — Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Carmen G. Cantor concluded a weeklong trip to the Pacific, where she met with regional leaders and U.S. government interagency partners to highlight the Department of the Interior’s commitment to the insular areas and Freely Associated States (FAS).  

In Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, Assistant Secretary Cantor and staff from the Department’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) hosted interagency partners and U.S. Embassies Chiefs of Mission at the biannual Federal Working Group on the FAS. The meeting facilitated the exchange of best practices, addressed program delivery challenges and discussed pooling federal resources for crucial projects. Over 35 federal program personnel from 20 agencies attended.

Traveling to Guam, Assistant Secretary Cantor met with Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio, engaged local leaders, and conducted site visits to key projects receiving funding from OIA. These visits included a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Guam Trades Academy, where she highlighted the positive impact of solar panels on reducing operational costs and discussed the suitability of renewable energy technology for Guam’s environment. Other OIA-funded visits encompassed the Governor's complex building renovation and the Micronesian Resource Center One-Stop-Shop, aiding individuals and families migrating to Guam from the FAS.

Assistant Secretary Cantor also visited a project site funded by the America the Beautiful Challenge initiative, focusing on improving ecosystem and community health and food security by removing invasive species, particularly Little Fire Ants (LFA), an invasive species that poses an environmental, economic, and human health threat on the Island. The project involves community outreach to empower private landowners in controlling LFA and preventing its spread.

While in Guam, Assistant Secretary Cantor also participated as a special guest in Operation Christmas Drop (OCD), the longest-running humanitarian mission operated by the Department of Defense and regional allies. OCD delivers essential supplies to remote insular areas, a tradition that started in 1952 and highlights the United States’ ongoing commitment to the Micronesian region while providing a multilateral training opportunity for Pacific allies.

The Assistant Secretary also visited the Northern Mariana Islands, where she met with Governor Arnold Palacios and academic leaders to discuss disaster recovery issues, specifically addressing building construction and renovations was areas destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. The visit included a site visit to an OIA-funded pier rail and Ranger docking station project on Managaha Island.


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