USAID Director Lawrence Hardy Remarks from Press Conference

Lawrence Hardy II, USAID Mission Director for Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia, February 3, 2020

  • I am very pleased to be here today on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development, more commonly known as USAID.
  • USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency for international development and disaster assistance.  I am very thankful for the Fijian warmth and hospitality that you all have extended me.
  • Fiji is the third of a four-country tour of the Pacific Islands region. I began in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, where I launched a number of new USAID activities together with government and private sector counterparts.
  • After my time here in Fiji, I will travel to Tuvalu to meet with partners from the government, private sector, civil society and other donor countries to reinforce the U.S. Government’s commitment to build a more prosperous future for people of the region.

On the Pacific Pledge

  • You may have heard of the U.S. government’s Pacific Pledge. It represents the U.S. commitment to the Pacific Islands under the U.S. government’s Indo-Pacific Vision, in which all nations are independent, strong, and prosperous.  We see the Pacific Islands as an essential part of the Indo-Pacific region, and we are deeply committed to the Pacific Islands’ security and prosperity.
  • As a Pacific nation ourselves, the American people value their close friendship with the people of the Pacific Islands, including Fiji.  The United States considers our Pacific neighbors 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 toward a brighter, more resilient future.
  • The U.S. Government is expanding its relationship with the Pacific Islands region.  In total, the U.S. Government is committing over $100 million (or almost 220 million Fijian dollars) in new U.S. assistance to the region as part of its Pacific Pledge of the Indo-Pacific Vision, the U.S. Secretary of State announced last September.
  • As part of the Pacific Pledge, USAID will begin programming $63 million this year, more than doubling the development assistance provided to the region over previous years.
  • As part of a whole-of-government commitment to the Pacific Pledge and the Pacific region, several other U.S. federal government agencies, in addition to USAID, will also provide new funding and support, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Also in 2020, USAID will position Senior Development Advisors in Fiji, and Papua New Guinea as well as Country Coordinators in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau.

On USAID Projects in Fiji

  • USAID engages 11 partner countries in the Pacific Islands region, including Fiji, as they progress in their journey to self-reliance.
  • In collaboration with government partners and the private sector, USAID builds self-reliance while fostering prosperity and regional stability by strengthening the ability of our partner countries to plan, finance, and lead their own sustainable development.
  • We focus on helping Pacific Island countries to become more resilient to changing environmental conditions, as well as boosting in-country capacity, to advance good governance.
  • Through our Ready Project, USAID is working with the Government of Fiji and other stakeholders to draft and implement policies to achieve the country’s adaptation goals.  Ready is designed to increase Pacific islands’ access to international sources of climate finance. These resources are vital as you come up with local solutions to address challenges brought about by the changing climate.
    • Since 2017, the U.S. Government has helped the region to identify and mobilize 81 million dollars from international climate funding sources for investment in the Pacific, including Fiji.  We are also improving the skills and systems within the country, to better manage and monitor adaptation projects so that available funding is best utilized, and that the most vulnerable among us benefit.
  • USAID also works with The Pacific Community to implement the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change, or ISACC project.  The project links government with local partners, allowing them to pool their resources, manage their adaptation finances more effectively, and develop multi-sector approaches to adapt and reduce their risk to weather-related disasters.
  • Through our partnership with the S. Peace Corps, we are raising environmental awareness among remote communities and increasing their resilience to extreme weather events.  In Fiji, volunteers work with their communities to build seawalls, improve water and sanitation, construct safe houses for use during extreme weather events and integrate sound environmental practices into project planning.
  • Through funding under our Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID works with a number of partners to help Fiji prepare for, and respond to, extreme weather events and natural disasters: For example
  • Our partnership with the UN World Food Program is bolstering  emergency logistics and emergency communications capacity across the Pacific.  We are working with national and regional relief partners, to improve assessment, coordination, equipment stocking, technical advisory services, and training capacity in the region.
  • Finally, USAID is also tapping the expertise of Field Ready, a nongovernmental organization, to enable local manufacturing of items needed to address critical health and water/sanitation service bottlenecks in disaster-affected areas.  Through this project, we promote the scaled production of existing locally-produced water, sanitation, and hygiene products in partnership with government and sector lead agencies, determined by need with beneficiaries through our community engagement partners.
  • In conclusion, USAID is back and pleased to expand our partnership in the Pacific islands region with significantly more programs, partners, USAID presence, and financial resources, to benefit our Pacific friends.