Press Release
Published on July 13, 2023

UN Agencies and Micronesian Governments Unite to Accelerate SDGs Through Digital Transformation

Pohnpei, Micronesia, July 12, 2023: The governments of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati joined forces with the United Nations to announce the launch of a ground-breaking Joint Programme (JP) on accelerating SDG achievement through digital transformation to strengthen community resilience in Micronesia.

The Pacific SIDS face numerous unique challenges that impact inclusive socio-economic development in a rapidly changing global physical and technical landscape. Geographical isolation, limited resources, dis-economies of scale, and heightened vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change significantly impact their growth opportunities.

The Joint Programme provides a platform for synergies and collaborative action through pooling resources, expertise, and networks to explore solutions aimed at providing better access to digital services, fostering innovative and inclusive environments, spurring economic activities, and strengthening climate change resilience to improve the overall quality of life in the region. This is a unique opportunity for governments, the private sector, civil society partners, and UN organisations in the region.

"Through this Joint Programme, we are not only leveraging the potential of technology but also nurturing resilience and empowering communities in the Pacific,” said Mr. Jaap van Hierden, UN Resident Coordinator Micronesia. “Together, we can harness the transformative power of technology, collaboration, and innovation to break barriers, create opportunities, bridge divides, and build a future where no one is left behind".

The Digitalization Programme brings together seven participating UN Organizations led by ITU, including FAO, ILO, UNOPS, UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNODC, under the overall leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator Multi-Country Office Micronesia. Financed through a USD 3.8 million grant provided by the UN Joint SDG Fund, the Joint Programme supports digital transformation initiatives, solutions, and policy framework developments to digitally empower Small Island Developing States (SIDS) across the Pacific Islands.

Currently, the participating countries of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands (RMI), Nauru, and Kiribati are actively engaged in the development of a comprehensive digital transformation strategy. In-country consultations are being conducted to ensure the strategy's ownership and sustainability. This strategy will serve as a vital connector and launch pad for formulating or enhancing sector-specific digital transformation action plans, such as those focused on e-health, e-agriculture, and e-commerce. By adopting a holistic "whole of government" and "whole of society" approach, these countries aim to address key barriers to digital transformation collectively and guide their governments in leveraging digital technologies for inclusive socio-economic development and improved resilience in the face of unique challenges posed by their geographical locations and vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.

To realize this vision, the Digitalization Programme will identify one pilot innovative island/district across five participating countries in the region. These selected pilot locations will serve as models for leveraging digitalization to enhance service delivery and drive overall development. The UN agencies will collectively implement digital strategies and capacity-building interventions and facilitate policy reforms to sustain and institutionalize digital initiatives. This will lay the foundation for long-term impact and progress that will pave the way to accelerating the SDGs toward an inclusive, sustainable, and progressive future.

The UN Joint SDG Fund is funded through contributions from fourteen development partners, including the European Union, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Their contribution plays a crucial role in advancing the goals of the Joint Programme and promoting sustainable development in the Pacific region.