The 1st National Environment Symposium was quite a success! Many individuals from the private and public sectors, as well as government officials, community members, and foreign nationals attended one and/or both days. Others who were not able to attend the Symposium were able to listen to two radio channels, Palau Wave Radio and Eco Paradise FM and some even shared their opinions and asked questions via the radio hotline.
In addition to providing a national platform to highlight and discuss several of the current most pressing environmental challenges, as well as successes and “Bright Spots”, to borrow Minister Umiich Sengebau’s phrase, the biggest success of the Symposium was the impressive number of young, educated Palauans who presented their work at the Symposium, including two Mindszenty High School seniors, Minelli Olkeriil and David Moses, who presented the “Distribution, Impacts, and Biotypes of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles in Palau.” This project on Chermelalius was a collaborative project by several local institutions, including the Bureau of Agriculture, Palau Community College, Pacific Academic Institute for Research, and Mindszenty High School.
Other young presenters included GEF Small Grants Program National Coordinator, Kiblas Soaladaob; Palau Conservation Society (PCS) Program Coordinator, Heather Ketebengang; The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Micronesia Director, Steven Victor; TNC fisheries coordinators, Yvonne Ueda and Happy Fritz; Coral Reef Research Foundation Biologist, Gerda Ucharm; Ngardok Nature Reserve Program Manager, Kevin Mesebeluu; Protected Areas Network (PAN) Manager, King Sam; Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism (MNRET) Project Manager, Gwen Sisior; Bureau of Budget and Planning’s Climate Change Coordinator, Erbai Matsutaro; Northern Reef Fisheries Cooperative Director, Bridget Adachi; Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) Tuna Project Manager, Asterio Takasi; Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) Engineer, Anthony Rudimch; Environmental Quality Protection Board Lab Supervisor, Kimie Ngirchechol; Bureau of Tourism Director, Bouveau Anastacio; and Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) researchers, research assistant, and Communications/Outreach Officers, including Lukes Isechal, Victor Nestor, Dawnette Olsudong, Sahar Hanser, and Ines Kintoki.
The aim of the Symposium was to provide a national platform to: a) celebrate our ‘wins’ in our conservation and management efforts; and b) provide guidance for us to perform more effectively together in tackling ongoing and new challenges in the environment sector. Not only were we able to achieve these, we did it with a significant contribution from our ‘next generation’ of Palauans who are already doing work in the field.
It is enlightening to see young people empowered to affect change and truly representing the Symposium’s theme: “Our environment, our home, our future: OUR PALAU.” Given the limited time for the Symposium, it was necessary to prioritize issues and limit the number of presentations. These requirements, unfortunately, also limited other issues and ongoing projects that needed to be shared as well. Recognizing this, the co-hosts of this Symposium will continue to work together to provide other opportunities for other issues and projects to be presented and discussed on other public platforms.
The National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) will compile all the information from the two-day Symposium and produce a report of the Symposium. The report will make note of the recommendations from the various presentations to move forward and the NEPC will incorporate the recommendations into its work plan.
The co-hosts of the Symposium would like to express their deepest appreciation to Palasia Hotel for their exceptional support and services for both days. Specific requests were made for the venue, AV equipment and menu and each request was accommodated for, without which the symposium would not have been as successful. Additionally, the co-hosts would also like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to the two radio channels, Palau Wave Radio and Eco-Paradise FM, for broadcasting the Symposium live for those who could not make it to the Symposium. This added to the success of the Symposium, as these radio channels were instrumental in getting the Symposium to the people of Palau, engaging them when they were not able to be physically present at the Symposium. [/restrict]