“A lot of good information came out of this symposium just like the other symposiums held before but what I liked about this was that there was more engagement coming from the Palauan community,” stated Sam Scott, Board member of the Palau Chamber of Commerce.

“I felt we had more opportunity to engage more, and that is good,” added Scott of the 2022 Economic Symposium, the first held after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this symposium, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched for the first time in Palau its 2022 Human Development Report. 

The report goes beyond just income measures to look at where human development is in terms of choices and freedoms. The report titled “Unsettled Lives, Uncertain Times,” looked at the people as the center of development and asked questions about whether they “feel safer, more equal and happier.”

It showed a world of worry, filled with conflicts, pandemics, political polarization, climate hazards, and uncertainty resulting in impacts on people’s mental health and an overall reduction in the global Human Development Index (HDI).

A panel made up of a private sector representative, a civil society advocate, and the advocate of persons with disability talked about including them in the development conversation, ensuring the inclusion of all persons in discussion and decision-making to reach a substantial measurement of a country’s development progress.

According to the report, opportunities lie in finding new paths in “investment, insurance, and innovation.”

Faustina Rehuher-Marugg, a civil society member and activist, and panelist at the Symposium, recommends looking at how Palau’s traditional civil society addresses challenges and applying proven successful solutions to current challenges.

In his presentation, Kevin Petrini, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative based in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, states, “Policies that focus on investment, insurance, and innovation will enable people to thrive in the face of uncertainty. Investment —from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics and extreme natural hazards— to ease planetary pressures. Insurance—including social protection— to prepare our societies for the contingencies of an uncertain world. Innovation in its many forms—technological, economic, cultural—to respond to the unknown challenges that humanity will face.”

“Ultimately, to navigate uncertainty, we need to double down on human development and look beyond simply seeking to improve people’s wealth or health, important as they are.”

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