Home Publisher's Point of View Palau Pledge a Best Practice Worth Replicating Around the Planet

Palau Pledge a Best Practice Worth Replicating Around the Planet

Glenn Hasek

Palau is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. It contains approximately 340 islands and has an area of just 180 square miles. The population is about 21,000. As with other Pacific island nations, rising sea level presents a major environmental threat. Illegal dynamite fishing, inadequate solid waste disposal facilities and extensive sand and coral dredging also threaten the health of the environment.

I bring up Palau in this column because the country is doing something very unique—something worth replicating around the world. Palau is the first nation on earth to change its immigration laws for the cause of environmental protection. Upon entry, visitors need to sign a passport pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island, for the sake of Palau’s children and future generations of Palauans. The pledge reads as follows:

“Children of Palau, I take this pledge, as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home. I vow to tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully. I shall not take what is not given. I shall not harm what does not harm me. The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.”

Pledge Put Together by Children

Children from all over Palau participated in the drafting of the pledge. “It is our responsibility to show our guests how to respect our island home, just as it is their duty to uphold the signed pledge when visiting,” says Tommy Remengesau, President of the Republic of Palau.

Every tourist who takes the pledge needs to follow a set of guidelines or risk a fine. One guideline, for example: “Don’t collect marine life souvenirs.” Another guideline: “Don’t touch or step on coral.”

Palauans have also taken the pledge, from the president, the first pledgee, to traditional chiefs and residents. Education will play an important part in supporting the pledge as locals commit to protecting and celebrating the uniqueness of their sacred home. A new curriculum for primary and secondary school students and other programs will help build eco-awareness in tomorrow’s leaders and conscious business principles within the tourist sector.

What Palau is doing is a great example of what can be done not only in other countries but within companies and at individual properties as well. It has been proven that when people sign a pledge, they are more likely to embrace and follow green initiatives. Kudos to the people of Palau for sharing this best practice to the world.

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