Palau, August 16, 2023 โ€“ Forty students from Palau participated in the Second Palau Youth Forum on August 11-12 at Palasia Hotel Palau. The event, which was held in celebration of International Youth Day, was organized by OneReef Worldwide Stewardship and focused on the theme โ€œOkerengel a Klechibelauโ€.

The forum was the second in a series of youth forums organized by OneReef. The first forum, held in 2021, focused on the challenges facing Palau’s youth in relation to climate change, as well as other social and environmental issues. The key outcomes and topics from the first forum informed the organization of the second forum.

The forum featured a lineup of young Palauan panelists who discussed the challenges that youth face in connecting with their Palauan identity, culture, and heritage. The panelists represented four thematic areas: language, environment, health and wellness, and social entrepreneurship and arts.

In the afternoon session, students broke out into discussion groups to further explore how these four thematic areas can be connected to Palauan culture and heritage. They also presented their findings to President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., Vice President J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, Acting US Deputy Chief of Mission Jason Frohnmayer, Minister Dr. Dale Jenkins, and other high level government officials.

On the second day of the forum, participants took a heritage tour of the UNESCO Rock Island Southern Lagoon. They were given a guided tour by Koror State Government of the Ngerukeuid Islands, Ewatel er a Mariar, and Ngederrak Conservation Area, and learned about the rich history and biodiversity of the area.

The forum was a valuable opportunity for young Palauans to discuss their culture and heritage, and to develop strategies for preserving it for future generations. It was also a chance for them to connect with other young people who are passionate about making a difference in their community.  The event was made possible through the collaboration of many partners, namely Uchul A Chei Fishers, Friends of the PNMS, and partially funded by USAID.

OneReef is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 in the USA and chartered in Palau in 2021 to support communities who own, use, and protect their island ecosystems across the Micronesian region. The Second Palau Youth Forum is part of its Traditional Stewardship program, which encourages a stronger connection of youth with traditional experts, cultural heritage, and their island ecosystem.

OneReef believes that young people are critical agents of change, and that they have a unique perspective to offer on the challenges facing our islands. The organization is committed to providing young people with the tools and resources they need to make a difference in their communities.

For more information about OneReef, please visit www.onereef.org or call 488-4361.

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