On March 12th, 2020, in the presence of Honorable F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, and Her Excellency Ngedikes Olai Uludong, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations, His Excellency KARASAWA Akira, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Palau, and Mr. Kirk Bayabos, Head of the Sustainable Development Cluster, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)New York Service Cluster, exchanged notes on Japan’s grant aid of up to 400 million yen (approximately $3.65 million) in support of Palau’s hosting of the 7th Our Ocean Conference to be held on August 17-18, 2020.

As a small island nation, one of Palau’s biggest challenges is ensuring adequate infrastructural and logistical capacities needed to host an international conference of this magnitude. The grant is aimed at supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely, SDG 14: Life Below Water,by providing assistance towards the hosting of the 7th Our Ocean Conference which will serve as a platform for solutions and actions to address the ocean issues of our time.

Ambassador Karasawa stated that he was delighted to be speaking on this memorable signing ceremony. Then, he said that Japan has common ocean awareness and recognizes the situation in Palau so he decided to support Our Ocean Conference as much as possible for Palau. Lastly, he emphasized that this project will contribute to the success of Our Ocean Conference and even to the future sustainable development of Palau.

Mr. Bayabos speaking on behalf of UNOPS stated that the preparation for Our Ocean Conference in ongoing and UNOPS prioritizes factors associated with the SDGs such as sustainability, gender equality, and transparency as it supports Palau with implementing and delivering the 7th Our Ocean Conference. He then thanked the Government of Japan and the Government of Palau for their commitment to Our Ocean Conference.

Ambassador Uludong remarked on the strength of the bilateral relations between the two governments as well as the partnership with the United Nations and its implementing entities. As an island nation, hosting the Our Ocean Conference poses a great challenge in ensuring adequate facilities and capacity needs and the key to success is “partnerships”. She expressed her gratitude to Japan for supporting Palau bilaterally and in the multilateral arena.

Minister Sengebau, who is the Chairperson of the 7th Our Ocean Conference closed the ceremony by extending appreciation on behalf of the Government and the people of Palau to Japan for its friendship and support.

Our Ocean Conference is a high-level international meeting where governments, NGOs and other relevant organizations exchange their opinions about marine issues on the areas of Marine protected areas, Climate change, Sustainable fisheries, Marine pollution, Sustainable blue economy, and Maritime security. It is very important for Palau to successfully host the conference and cooperate with other stakeholders to shape solutions and catalyze bold action to protect and conserve our ocean for our future generations.