The departure of the Micronesian states from the Pacific Forum will be a tragedy for the Pacific region. The Pacific’s visibility and effectiveness on the global stage will be reduced. While individual members will continue to have agency in their own right, the Forum draws members together and amplifies their common concerns. It has done this effectively with oceans issues, climate change and fisheries. The Micronesian countries have been at the forefront of all these issues. The Blue Pacific concept developed by the Forum explains the connections between Pacific Island nations and tells the story of the importance of the Pacific to the outside world. The Biketawa Declaration provided the basis for cross regional mutual support in troubled times and the Boe Declaration has built on it, presenting broad concepts of security that have resonated well beyond the Pacific.
Like all multilateral organisations, the Forum is imperfect. If you go digging deep in the weeds of its work, you can lose the sense of the importance of the whole. Yes, the meetings can be tedious but even in a zoom environment they provide opportunities to connect, maintain community and forge common understandings. Expanding attendance, in both numbers and level, of Dialogue partners at the annual Pacific Forum meetings in the last ten years shows the increasing profile of the Pacific and the Forum, even if discussion is constant on how to make the meetings more meaningful.