Leaders of governments, non-government organization, foundations, private companies and Palau’s traditional leaders gathered at the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) last Thursday evening for the 7th Our Ocean Conference Closing Reception.

The event, which was attended by hundreds of people, featured traditional dances, Palauan cuisine from local vendors, and remarks from Vice President and Minister of Justice J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior, Asian Development Bank Pacific Director General Leah Gutierrez and Representative of Palau to the United Nations Ambassador Ilana Seid.

In her opening remarks, Vice President Senior stated, “By protecting the ocean and taking action on climate change, we renew our dedication to preserve and enhance our traditional heritage and our national identity, as well as our respect for traditional conservationist values.”

Ngarachamayong Performers opened and closed the program with traditional dances, with men performing a “Ruk” and women performing the “Delal a Ngloik”. Many of the attendees commented that the cultural performance were the highlight of the reception.  In addition to the exciting performances, guest also received explanations of the performances and attire, which deepened their understanding and appreciation of Palauan culture.

Ambassador Seid gave the closing remarks and stated, “Palau is a faraway land, but it is connected to your own homelands in two ways – by the ocean and by the air. These are the ties that bind us and remind us that we are one: if we honor them they will enthrall us, and if we don’t, they will destroy us. We Palauans are the people of a blue ocean state; but collectively, we are the people of a blue planet”.

Attendees also received guided tours of Palau Aquarium including a new exhibit showcasing the history of ocean conservation in Palau.

The event was co-hosted by Palau and NGO partners Asian Development Bank, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Nature Conservancy, Oceans5, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Re:Wild, Ocean Policy Research Institute, Blue Nature Alliance, Pew Charitable Trusts, Guam Green Growth, Global Fishing Watch, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Environmental Defense Fund and Island Conservation.

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