U.S. Ambassador To Vanuatu Impressed With ‘Spirit Of Good Governance’

Ebert-Gray excited to see constitutional reform efforts; especially elevation of women’s voices

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 8, 2016) – The United States Ambassador to Vanuatu, [Catherine] Ebert-Gray says she is impressed with the spirit of good governance as demonstrated by Vanuatu’s leaders as they commit to reforming the Constitution.

The Ambassador makes the statement in an exclusive interview at Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa this week, after presenting her Letters of Credence to the Head of State, Baldwin Lonsdale.

Following her calls at different Government offices she says, “There is the beginning of discussions on how we can improve the governance of this country and make it more democratic, and include better representation and look at some of the ways that they (leaders) can be progressive in changing the Constitution in order to reflect the needs of this country,” she says.

“I am excited at monitoring that and come and go and watch how this discussion is going because after all, it all about representation and having fair representation including women. And that was an observation I made speaking with people in the business community that women are hardworking members of this society.”

The Ambassador says it seems there are more women in higher institutions of learning than men and she supports the development to allow both men and women to contribute meaningfully to society (and move away from a traditional male dominated society).

She continues, “As a woman myself in my whole career, I’ve watched these changes in the United States so that’s exciting”.

Furthermore, the Ambassador says Government is “very, very focused” on stability and economic development and those values that Vanuatu and the United States share.

“We share those values along with of course, one of our high priorities is climate change. We had discussions with the Minister of Climate Change to talk about how we may be able to do more. We’ve already introduced dozens and dozens of water catchment systems to expand water storage capacity in the islands,” she confirms.

Other ways that her Government is helping in are introducing climate change adaptation programmes with the communities to make sure that they are very much involved in deciding what they need for their individual communities, and educate the population about the effects of climate change.

“That is one of our high priorities and President Obama says Climate change is even a greater threat than terrorism,” the Ambassador says.

“This is certainly true out here in the Pacific which explains why the American Government has invested billions of dollars in the Pacific island nations and I am going to go back and talk to them about what are their plans for Vanuatu to see what we can do in the long term.”

The Ambassador has shown a classic example for others to emulate, by joining approximately 100 ni-Vanuatu and Americans to mark America’s Independence Day flag raising ceremony in rural Efate at Teouma July 4.

America consisted of only 13 states when it gained its independence from England on July 4 of 1776. Today the number of states that make the United States has increased to 52.

She describes her experience of the event at Teouma by saying, “It was very heartwarming to see the relationships between our two countries and how they (ni-Vanuatu) embrace any of the contributions that we can give them in this country.

“I also had an opportunity to sit down with US Peace Corps volunteers and the hospitality that ni-Vanuatu extend to these volunteers is really heartwarming, they treat them like their own children and they give them great opportunities to work in schools and clinics and small enterprises.

“I think this is one of the most successful Peace Corps volunteers in the world, and it’s great to get out there and see how happy it is.”

The Ambassador says it is a two way learning process where the volunteers learn from ni-Vanuatu as much as they give to the communities. “And they (volunteers) are taking a slice of this tranquility with them for the rest of their lives,” she concludes.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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Maybe next time she comes to Vanuatu all Americans can meet her?

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