Palau officially jumpstarted preparations to host 2020’s Our Oceans Conference last night with the signing of two pieces of legislation appropriating seed money for the event and establishing a dedicated account for the conference funding.

Our Oceans is a gathering of leaders and stakeholders around the world focusing on marine protected areas, sustainable fisheries and marine pollution, among other topics.

This will be the first large scale conference Palau will be hosting. President Tommy Remengesau said that it is expected that there will be close to 1,500 delegates and leaders attending the event.

Remengesau signed last night RPPL 10-19 which establishes a trust fund for the Our Oceans Conference.

Another bill signed is RPPL 10-18, which contains the rider earmarking seed money for the conference.

The president also signed Executive Order 411 creating an executive committee to prepare Palau for the hosting of the conference.

The Office of the President has designated former Palau Chamber of Commerce president Kaleb Udui as chairman of the Executive committee.

“We believe that big ideas can come from small places, we should also be glad that we might be small islands states but we are large ocean state, and for that matter as caretaker of large oceans, we do know how to take care of the ocean, we do know and understand the ocean,” Remengesua said.

Over the years, Palau’s life is linked to the oceans and the way of life, Remengesau said.

Remengesau said this is the reason why Palau is hosting the Our Ocean’s conference although the country is small and lack the facilities or the financial capability to host a big event.

“But the idea is that the small nation in the Pacific has something to offer that can complement what United States is offering to the world, what Indonesia is offering, what Chile has offered what Indonesia will offer this year and what Palau will offer in 2020,” Remengesau said.

Palau won the bid to host the event   during the Our Oceans conference in Malta held Oct. 5 and 6, last year.

The next two countries to host the Our Oceans Conference will be Indonesia in 2018 and Norway in 2019.

Remengesau said hosting the event is a monumental undertaking, involving thousands of people.

The president said that is why this early, Palau should prepare and its success would not be possible without the help of Palau and partnerships with other stakeholders.

Remengesau said in his remarks last night to kick-off the 2020 event preparation said that Palau need between $4 million to $5million to host the event.

As a start, Congress appropriated an amount of $100,000 for the event hosting, while The Nature Conservancy pledged an amount of $50,000 as well to help finance the conference.

Palau plans to engage the entire Pacific Community as well as government and non-government partners in the planning and logistics of hosting the event.  The 2017 Malta conference drew leaders of 100 nations, plus non-governmental organizations.

In an earlier statement, Remengesau said that Pacific will “be a worthy host to such a prestigious gathering, and that each and every one of the participants will be able to escape from the conference rooms and meetings, and experience the oceans of Palau — so we can all have a renewed sense of what we are all fighting to protect.”  (Bernadette H. Carreon) [/restrict]