The Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) was delighted to present Lazarus Meyar with the 2022 Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. Environmental Award for his lifelong commitment to conservation and management of Kayangel’s precious marine resources, for his support and promotion of ecotourism, and for showcasing the power of an individual to make a difference.
Presented every other year, the Environmental Award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to conservation and management efforts in Palau. Nominations are made by the public.
There were seven judges—three from the government, two from non-governmental organizations, one from PICRC, and one working in a private industry. Nominations were open from November 2021. There were nine nominees and the judges had made their decision by December 2021. The ceremony was delayed due to the ongoing restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in November 2022, there was the chance to have an award ceremony.
Mr. Meyar is a community-based conservationist in Kayangel—an isolated, small atoll, which is famous for its beautiful beach and ocean. For many years, he worked as a Kayangel State Conservation Officer and, during his free time, he has been involved with eco-tourism. While most tourism companies and guides in Palau are from foreign countries, Mr. Meyar is one of only a few Palauan who run tourism operations and showcase the beauty of their own home.
As a conservationist, he uses the tourism industry to teach people conservation ethics, through taking them snorkelling over his clam farm, showing them how to sustainably trap coconut crabs, and talking to them about the problems of poaching. Recently, he started collecting plastic trash to make art work on Kayangel beach.
“Community work is very important in Palau but it is not often recognized,” said PICRC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, “On his own, Lazarus Meyar has contributed a lot. It’s great to see a community member presented with this award.”
In 2018, Direngerkiu Carol O. Emaurois accepted the award for her contributions to research and science education. In 2020, Ann Singeo received the award for work in conservation in Palau through her efforts with Ebiil Society.