For Official Release
Office of the Governor
Utulei, American Samoa
February 1, 2021
10th Polynesian Leaders Group Meeting of 2021:
Successful Conference Bubble
American Samoa completes the first virtual Polynesian Leaders Group meeting.
PLG discusses the future of Polynesia, Post COVID-19, Climate Change, Fisheries, and Information Technology
The 10th Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) meeting, "Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty," adjourned Thursday, January 28th, 2021, with a feeling of great pride and accomplishment. Aside from the PLG members' issues, one of the most unique highlights was connecting with the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands via a satellite phone to ZOOM while he was transmitting from onboard a ship somewhere in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
The Secretariat of the PLG recognized American Samoa as providing an impressive display of technology, governance, and professionalism that has set the standard for future virtual PLG meetings. The smiles and clapping after the PLG meeting from Prime Minister Tuilaepa showed how pleased he was that the meeting was a success.
Communications Officer Fiafia Sunia states, "The whole team was a bit nervous," he continues, "Governor Lemanu wanted to ensure that there should be no disruption in the connection at any time for whatever reason." One of the PLG topics was Information Technology and infrastructure, and American Samoa needed to promote its capabilities. Sunia says, "This type of preparation and execution was the product of outstanding coordination not only within ASG but also with the support of the local ISP community." He continues, "I am not sure if American Samoa realizes how much local talent, from local schools, that are now the experts in these technological fields. A dream that Utu Abe Malae had always envisioned. PLG would not have been possible without the technicians of ASTCA and Blue Sky, KVZKTV, and the Governor's Office IT staff. Their teams were highly professional in planning, setting up hardware and portals, and managing to carry out a successful PLG with no disruption in connectivity. We were able to create a safe 'Conference Bubble' that allowed all of the participants to conduct PLG business as if in person, virtually, and address regional issues for discussion at the future summit of the Pacific Island Forum scheduled for February 2021." The Conference Bubble is just one way that American Samoa has assimilated to Post COVID-19 means of communicating. It will ensure that we have the technology to connect with the outside world in an isolated environment.
The previous PLG meeting was in August 2019 in Tuvalu. American Samoa took up the Chairmanship position and the responsibility to host the 10th Polynesian Leaders Group in early 2020. The outbreak of measles in late 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, required the closure of borders and restrictions on travels. Postponing the PLG was the only way to ensure everyone's safety.
Agenda topics included Climate Change and Oceans, Fisheries and Agriculture, and Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT), and other matters introduced by the members. All member nations joined, as well as several observers. After the PLG in Tuvalu, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island have been added to the PLG list.
Governor Lemanu states, "The PLG meeting is an opportunity to address social and economic issues with other Polynesia leaders. I would like to thank the PLG Secretariat and Prime Minister Tuilaepa for their foresight. Not only providing this platform for our Leaders of Polynesia to discuss the overall mission to sustain economic prosperity, climate change, information technology, but also to discuss how human rights are promoted and protected under the rule of law." He continues, "Addressing and strengthening our partnerships with our neighboring island nations is a great feat for all Administrations. Lt. Governor Talauega and I are excited for American Samoa and the future of Polynesia."