Palau insists all Vistors Sign Pledge to Protect the Environment
In December 2017, The Western Pacific Republic of Palau launched an initiative which insists all visitors to the country sign a pledge to protect the environment when they pass through immigration.
The pledge, which is stamped into a visitor's passport and must be signed on arrival, is a promise to the children of Palau - who assisted in writing the pledge - that they will preserve the country's vibrant culture and the beauty of its natural environment for future generations.
Palau is the thirteenth smallest nation in the world, with a population of under 20,000 people, but which welcomes over 160,000 visitors each year. 'Careless behaviour' from tourists were judged to have had a negative impact on the country, both culturally and environmentally.
'It is our responsibility to show our guests how to respect Palau, just as it is their duty to uphold the signed pledge when visiting,' said President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr at the launch of the Palau Pledge. 'While Palau may be a small island nation, we are a large ocean-state and conservation is at the heart of our culture.'
Palau's record in conservation is strong, being the first country create a shark sanctuary in its national waters, and ban the destructive practice of bottom fishing, which can wipe out coral reefs and other habitats. In 2015, the government created the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the largest 'no-take', marine protected area in the world.
'We rely on our environment to survive and if our beautiful country is lost to environmental degradation, we will be the last generation to enjoy both its beauty and life-sustaining biodiversity,' said president Remengesau. 'This is not only true of Palau. Human impact on our earth’s environment is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today. As a small country, we feel the impact of these actions acutely. We hope that the Palau Pledge raises global awareness of the responsibility that this generation has to the next.'
To further raise awareness of the pledge, flights arriving on the island will feature an in-flight video where local children explain the impact that tourism has had on their home, with signs and information packs placed in the airport and again throughout the country, reminding visitors of the pledge to the environment that they have signed. Local communities, businesses and tour operators will also be expected to honour the pledge.
Laura Clarke, one of the four co-founders of the Palau Legacy Project, which commissioned the pledge along with media from Australian company HostHavas, said, 'the Palau Pledge is about helping guests understand the vital role they play in protecting Palau for the next generation. Most visitors are unaware of the serious impact their actions have or even what they can do to help. The Palau Legacy
Project team came together to help communicate these important messages in a way that all guests would understand.”
A dedicated website has been set up to provide information for visitors about the Palau Pledge prior to their trip. For more information, visit www.palaupledge.com