The Palau Pledge has won top honors at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity: the world’s most prestigious awards for creativity, innovation and communications.

Over the week-long Festival held in Cannes, France, the Palau Pledge won a total of 7 Cannes Lion awards across a range of categories, with the top awards announced at the closing ceremony on Friday evening.

This year, the Cannes Lions organizers collaborated with the United Nations to incorporate new categories into the awards program. The inaugural UN categories recognize creativity for good: projects that harness the incredible talent that lives within the communications industry and create scalable solutions toward achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Palau Pledge scooped the overall Grand Prix Prize in the UN category for its contribution in raising awareness of, and motivating action toward SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 14 (oceans / life below water), issues facing all Pacific Islanders.

Judges praised Palau’s culture of conservation for initiating the Palau Pledge based on the tradition of bul and was written with the help of children of Palau.

“We were looking for acts, not ads,” said UN SDG Lions Category Jury President, Mark Tutssel, “We were looking for big and fresh ideas that wove their way into culture that changed behaviour mindset and allowed people to participate in an idea. The Palau Pledge is so beautiful in its execution and concept—and rich in its potential.”

Maher Nasser, Director of Outreach for the United Nation’s Department of Public Information added, “When you look at the sustainable development goals, they are about people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. The Palau Pledge brought all of the elements of what the global goals are about, and that’s the spirit.”

Palau Pledge was up against the world’s best ideas and largest brands in all categories of the awards program including: Tourism Australia, Apple, Nike and Proctor & Gamble.  Despite having a tiny budget compared to all the other entries, the Palau Pledge triumphed. Out of the 32,372 entries and hundreds of winners across all categories, Palau Pledge also won the Festival’s ultimate accolade: the highly-coveted Titanium Lion Grand Prix, proving that once again Palau can punch way above its weight and produce initiatives that lead the rest of the world.

Titanium Lions Jury President, Colleen Decourcy, noted, “The Palau Pledge went beyond messaging. It took pieces from everything we loved in the other Titanium winners and put them into an idea that’s world-changing. This felt like something we should all be thinking about moving forward.  A lot of the things that were awarded were really about scaling of ideas hand-to-hand, but when you look at taking a passport (part of the Palau Pledge program) and stamping it, that becomes embedded as part of your life experience,” she said. “You take it away with you—so anybody who’s ever visited Palau will carry this idea with them and the values that it represents. This felt like something where you take a piece of it away with you.”

The Palau Pledge was launched on December 7, 2017 and is now part of Palau’s official immigration stamp and landing procedure. Visitors are required to sign the Pledge (which is printed in their own language) in their passport, to agree to respect Palau’s environmental laws and culture during their stay. The Pledge draws attention to the ecological and social challenges related to tourism, with the future of the Palauan children in mind. It further seeks to change the damaging impact of human activity on the local ecosystem, by educating our visitors before they arrive Palau and during their stay.

In a written statement about the significance of the Palau Pledge winning at the Cannes Festival, High Chief Ibedul said, “Like the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, BUL is at the heart of the Palau Pledge. It educates our visitors and helps us protect our environment and culture for our children’s future.  The Palau Pledge has been awarded the highest accolade in communications. Without communication our communities could not implement or enforce BUL.

It is everyone’s job to protect Palau, just as it is everyone’s job to preserve our planet. I hope in time, other countries and communities will adopt a similar approach so that together we can pass on a healthier world to the generations who follow us.”

Board Member of Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, Chief Beouch, also in a written statement said “Having worked in the tourism industry and as a fisherman, it is my duty to ensure that the next generation inherit a healthy ocean. To do this, we must continue to find new ways to educate our entire community and ensure that they take personal responsibility for protecting Palau. The Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary have supported the Palau Pledge because it was created with our children in mind. Having the Palau Pledge recognized by the international community in such a high-profile way, shines a light on the many environmental and cultural challenges. It will also attract conscientious travellers to visit Palau – ones who want to care for our environment and culture like we do.”,

The Pledge puts an onus on ‘responsible, sustainable tourism’ from the growing number of tourists who have visited Palau in recent years. It supports two of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary’s key pillars: Education and Awareness and Tourism Marketing. In addition, the Palau Pledge helps deliver on the promise of Pristine Paradise. Palau. 

“The Palau Pledge as a tool for enforcement officers helps” said Jennifer S. Olgeriil, Director, Dept. of Conservation & Law Enforcement, KSG – Guardians of The Southern Lagoon “by advising and educating visitors about what we expect of them before they arrive in Palau. This can take some of the pressure off our rangers so that they can spend more time seeking out those who truly wish to cause harm to our pristine environment. The global recognition that the project has received is good for Koror State and essential for our work in the protection and sustainability of the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon.

The Palau Pledge continues to build momentum locally by partnering with the Ministry of Education and Palau Conservation Society to develop a new educational curriculum component for school-aged children. Additionally, the Palau Pledge team with the assistance of the Friends of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, are working with the local business community to develop a world-first business accreditation program that will enhance and enforce the Palau Pledge messaging throughout the visitors’ stay in Palau. (PR)