The Australian Government has today announced $60,000 USD in an initial round of financial support for a landmark eco-tourism initiative to support the sustainability of the Pacific Island nation of Palau.
The small island nation with a population of 20,000 is seeking to overcome the negative impacts on its environment from the 160,000 tourists that visit annually and encourage visitors to think about their impact on the environment, globally.
The financial commitment will go towards furthering the efforts of the Palau Pledge, a world-first program, which has seen the country redesign its immigration policy and landing procedures to encourage visitors to become more environmentally-conscious while they travel.
The Pledge involves all visitors to Palau being asked to sign a personal promise to Palau’s children, stamped in their passports at immigration to protect and preserve Palau for future generations.
The content of the Pledge was written with the help of Palau’s children, and developed in collaboration with Palau’s Government.
The Pledge positively reinforces Palau’s environmental laws and traditions and its conditions are enforced throughout the country.
Visitors who ignore the promise may be subject to penalties, including fines for offences committed.
Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore today visited Palau to see the difference the Pledge is making first hand in preserving Palau’s pristine environment and ancient culture.
Bishop announced details of the grant provided by the Australian Government, which further strengthens the country’s ties with Palau.
Following the success of the Pledge since its launch late last year, Ms Bishop announced the Australian Government is investing an initial $60,000 USD to support the next phase of its implementation in the country.
The grant will go towards funding the new Pledge Business Accreditation Program that will engage Palau’s private sector to help further the reach of the Palau Pledge in the community, engaging visitors in a positive way and communicating the aims of the Pledge.
It will also help them ensure compliance with Palau’s strict environmental laws and customs.
The Hon. Julie Bishop MP said, “I am delighted to confirm that the Australian Government is supporting the Palau Pledge initiative to help preserve the beautiful and pristine natural environment of Palau for future generations.
“This work is an example of how Australian and North Pacific nations can collaborate to maintain a peaceful, prosperous and stable region.”
The Palau Pledge is rooted in Palau’s traditional practice of environmental stewardship and was created by Australian advertising agency, Host/Havas, in partnership with the Palau Legacy Project, a local group that works alongside Palau’s government to help communicate Palau’s conservation message.
Despite its status as the world’s 13thsmallest country, Palau’s tourist numbers have rapidly increased in recent years due to its extraordinary array of unique natural wonders and remarkable landscape.
The Australian Government’s investment in the Pledge also enables The Palau Legacy Project team to continue to work with the grassroots conservation community and marine research organizations based in Palau, to help ensure greater understanding of the initiative and longer-term success of the Pledge, with a hope that it will also be a trailblazing program to be rolled out in other countries around the world.
Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, President of Palau said, “We are grateful for the support from the Australian Government and Host/Havas which will make a significant difference in furthering the messages and aims of the Palau Pledge.
“Preserving our natural world is an important part of Palauan culture and The Palau Pledge is a truly innovative approach that brings to life our traditional wisdom in a way that our visitors can understand.
“This investment provides us with a strong foundation to build on the success of the Palau Pledge and engage our private sector in a long-term partnership to preserve our environment for future generations.
“The Palau Pledge has already made an immediate impact on visitors and the citizens of Palau, encouraging greater awareness of the responsibility we have to our children and our children’s children.”