March 30, 2023: A total of 40 participants (20 females; 20 males) took part in a stakeholders’ workshop to review the Palau National Chemical Profile (or baseline report) and the Palau National Chemical Policy. Participants represented government agencies, state governments, NGO, and the private sector whose roles involve the use of chemicals.
Glenn Seid – EQPB Board Member, welcomed and thanked the participants for their commitments to ensuring Palau strengthens the national and institutional capacity for chemical and waste management. Director Seid stressed that chemicals are found in every aspect of our lives and can be hazardous if not managed properly. He invited all participants to take ownership of the Chemical Profile and Policy by reviewing what exists and identifying gaps in our chemical management framework. Dir. Seid shared two concerns close to heart: marine plastic pollution and oil leaks on our roads that end up in our streams and the ocean. He challenged the participants to rely on their expertise to find solutions to these and other issues thereby ensuring Palau achieves its goal of sound chemical management.
Michael Blesam – EQPB CEO spoke on the purpose of Profile which provides comprehensive overview and assessment of the existing legal, institutional, administrative, and technical infrastructure related to chemicals and waste management in Palau. The Policy is a framework of goals, objectives, and strategies to achieving the objectives. These two documents will inform the development of legislation and regulations, data collection, as well as training and capacity development. CEO Blesam encouraged the participants by reiterating that their efforts will leave a long-lasting positive impact in safeguarding human health and the environment of Palau. “In other words, this is legacy work.”
Roxanne Siual Blesam delivered special remarks on behalf of the Office of the Vice President and Ministry of Justice. Siual stressed the importance of partnership and coordination saying, “the Task Force includes stakeholders from various sectors and will serve as a conduit for mainstreaming chemicals and waste management into other national policies …” Siual reiterated that coordinated efforts and continued cooperation will lead to the strengthening of Palau’s chemical management framework and infrastructure including chemical management database and financial mechanisms to support and sustain chemical management for Palau.
Representing the House of Delegates was the Honorable Timothy Sinsak of Ngerchelong State and member of the Maritime, Climate Change, and Protected Areas committee. Delegate Sinsak emphasized that, “EQPB cannot do this work alone, we must all do our part. All stakeholders and relevant sectors must coordinate their efforts to ensure we have the built capacity to manage our chemicals safely.” The delegate assured the stakeholders that “any laws requiring passage, or anything you need to move this work forward, I am ready to work with you.”
Discussion of the National Chemical Profile and Policy led to the understanding that Palau has made strides in chemical management including the updates of EQPB regulations on Solid Waste, Pesticides, Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS), rehabilitation of the M-Dock Landfill and the building of the National Landfill, among others. There are still gaps to be addressed including: Education & Awareness; Chemical Life Cycle Management Regulations; Coordination & Communications between stakeholders; Hazardous Chemical Facilities for proper storage & disposal; Database & tracking systems; Capacity Building; and Financing mechanisms to support and sustain chemical management. Participants concurred that there is much to be done and have agreed to convene again in May to finalize the se two documents and move forward to the development of draft legislation and regulations to address the gap of sound chemical management for Palau.
For more information on regulations, permits, and activities we can do to protect our environment, please call EQPB at 488-1639/3600. You can also visit https://www.palaugov.pw/eqpb for more information on the nine (9) regulations that EQPB is authorized to promulgate and implement to safeguard our health and that of our environment.