US gives billions to island nations, tackling climate and China

By Francisco "A.J." Camacho | 03/20/2024 06:32 AM EDT

The Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia are beneficiaries of compacts that were renewed by the last spending law.

A thin strip of coral atolls separates the ocean from the lagoon in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

The Marshall Islands are among the Pacific island nations to receive climate adaptation funding from the United States. Nicole Evatt/AP

The spending package President Joe Biden signed into law earlier this month provided $7.1 billion in assistance to key Pacific allies, including funds to support “climate adaptation and the environment” for islands that may soon disappear beneath rising tides.

The law approved the renewal of the Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The new agreements give Washington exclusive military rights to the islands and their waters, and in return, the nations have billions to spend on environmental protection, education, health care and security over the next 20 years.

The three island nations, with combined annual gross domestic product of $880 million, have also been courted financially by China in recent years. The new agreements notch a geopolitical win for the Biden administration while also providing aid for security and climate change adaptation.


“It’s about fulfilling our commitment,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who sponsored the renewals in the Senate, “but also does a dual purpose today with China being so aggressive in that area.”