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World Bank opens new north Pacific office

Thursday 30 March 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Federated States of Micronesia, Regional

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World Bank opens new north Pacific office
World Bank country director for the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea Stephen Ndegwa (second left) and FSM President David Panuelo in Pohnpei on 29 March 2023. Photo: Twitter/Stephen Ndegwa/23032025

The World Bank has opened its new permanent office to support the development needs of the north Pacific.

The regional hub will be hosted in Pohnpei to assist with the implementation of World Bank funded programs in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands and Palau.

It is expected to "provide a space for collaboration, support, and knowledge exchange", the World Bank said in a statement.

"The new regional hub will play a vital role in delivering almost half-billion US dollars in total support across FSM, Marshall Islands, and Palau," it said.

FSM's outgoing President David Panuelo said the country was pleased to house the new centre.

"While we are honoured the World Bank has selected the Federated States of Micronesia for their hub, it is important to make clear that this center is for our use and the use of our brothers and sisters in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau equally," he said.

He has called on the north Pacific nations to treat the hub "as their own asset and link into the World Bank's data, knowledge, and experience - as well as the FSM's".

The number of projects across the three countries has tripled since 2016 and the amount of financing - delivered in the form of - grants from the International Development Association - has increased by six-fold, according to the World Bank.

In 2016, the international financial institution provided $US77 million to the north Pacific.

That support has increased to $US486 million in 2023 in areas including ITC connectivity, climate resilient infrastructure and maritime projects, education, health and nutrition for children.

"Our growing commitment and deepening relationship with the governments and people of the north Pacific are clearly reflected in the size and ambition of our portfolio of projects here," World Bank country director for the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea Stephen Ndegwa said.

"While we're proud of our existing work to drive digital transformation, early childhood health and education, oceans management, and climate adaptation in the region - I am pleased that this important hub will deepen our local knowledge and strengthen our north Pacific team on the ground."

World Bank first-ever resident representative for the north Pacific Degi Young said she looked forward to "bringing more north Pacific knowledge, culture, and spirit of inclusiveness into the way we work both here and across the Pacific."

She said the new office would allow for "greater collaboration and will mark an increase in north Pacific people's representation and engagement" with the World Bank.