The World Bank has officially opened a permanent office in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, following several years of an expanding presence and portfolio across the North Pacific.
The new regional hub will play a vital role in delivering the near USD half-billion in total support across Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Marshall Islands, and Palau.
World Bank assistance across the three countries has grown rapidly in recent years, with the number of projects tripling between 2016 and 2023 and amount of financing increasing six-fold. These projects include support for communities in Marshall Islands to prepare for the impacts of climate change; work to scale up renewable energy in Marshall Islands and FSM; an expansion of digital connectivity and the digital economy in FSM, Marshall Islands and Palau; improved maritime and road transport in FSM; and support for Early Childhood Development initiatives in Marshall Islands.
“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to host this important new hub for the World Bank in Pohnpei State,” said David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, who attended the opening event. “While we are honored 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, and we call on our North Pacific neighbors to treat this as their own asset, and link into the World Bank’s data, knowledge, and experience – as well as The FSM’s.”
President Panuelo was joined at the opening by Marshall Islands’ Minister of Finance, Brenson Wase, with official remarks also delivered by Palau’s Minister of Finance, Kaleb Udui, Jr.
The World Bank’s total commitment to the North Pacific has increased from US$76.9 million in 2016 to US$486.2 million in 2023. All support is delivered in the form of grants from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.
“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,” said Stephen Ndegwa, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea.
“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.”
“As the first Resident Representative of the World Bank in the North Pacific, I look forward to expanding our presence and bringing more North Pacific knowledge, culture, and spirit of inclusiveness into the way we work both here and across the Pacific,” said Degi Young, World Bank Resident Representative for the North Pacific. “This new space is an invitation for greater collaboration and will mark an increase in North Pacific people’s representation and engagement within our portfolio – I look forward to seeing how that changes our assistance and support, for the better,” said Young.