Airai State signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with MNRET on Wednesday, March 17 to undertake State Master Planning. All ten States on Babeldaob have now committed to updating or writing State Master Plans covering all development sectors. The ten States are also participating in island-wide ecosystem-based land use planning through the Babeldaob Joint Coordination Body (JCB), a prototype for the Regional Planning Commission required under Palau’s Title 31 (Land Planning Act). This work is being supported by the National GEF6 Project housed at MNRET. Peleliu is also undertaking State Master Planning.
Amendments to PNCA Title 31, currently in the OEK Senate, mandate that States legislate and adopt Master Plans in order to access Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds. This proactive GEF6 process is facilitating States to draft those plans so that they can sustainably develop their economic resources, be more self-sufficient, and be in compliance with national laws and regulations. A concurrent land use zoning effort will yield zoning maps and laws based on land, soil, economic, social, cultural, and other environmental criteria, and guide the selection of suitable sites for subdivisions and development projects. Through the Babeldaob JCB, States will coordinate cross-border issues such as water, and will work collaboratively to maximize the value of their agricultural and tourism sites.
Under the MNRET MOA, States will set up or equip Planning Commissions to update or write their own plans so that there is local ownership and buy-in and administrative longevity. Title 31 also requires each State to establish a State Planning Office to implement the Master Plans. Limited financial support for community costs is provided by MNRET through GEF6. A partnership with MNRET and PALARIS (MOF) is providing spatial data and analysis. The Palau Conservation Society (PCS) and MNRET are providing facilitation services to these States as a way of testing out the planning tools and templates that have been aligned with Title 31. Many other technical partners are collaborating to improve data input and decisions about land use or for capacity building.
Information on State Master Planning, including templates for public use, are on MNRET’s GEF6 website: https://sites.google.com/view/gef6palau/gef6-key-sectors/master-land-use-planning.