The journey of Palau’s return to its roots of being stewards of the natural environment was celebrated during the 20th Anniversary of the Palau Protected Areas Network (PAN) program last night at the Palau Royal Resort.

Palau’s Protected Areas Network program, signed into law in 2003, started with a few dedicated individuals, traditional chiefs, community leaders, and elders, led and facilitated by former delegate and renowned environmentalist Noah Idechong to its implementation.

Former delegate, Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, former chairman of the Palau Conservation Society, and currently the Executive Director of TNC’s Micronesia and Polynesia Chapter, Noah Idechong was recognized through a House Joint Resolution for his work and efforts to protect Palau’s environment and as the architect of Palau’s protected areas network (PAN)program.

Mr. Idechong credited the chiefs of Kayangel and Ngerchelong States, the founding members of the Palau Conservation Society, and the many young people who returned from college in early 2000 for their work and vision that brought about the PAN program, including the late former Senator Adalbert Eledui and others like him.  He gave the history of the evolution of the PAN idea and its implementation to date and challenged young leaders to take it forward.

Mr. Idechong also received the PAN’s Visionary Award.  Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Steven Victor presented the award to Mr. Idechong, saying that the program is efficient and resilient like the coconut.

In his remarks, former President Tommy Remengesau Jr. reminded everyone of the concept of bul, conserving for future use and the benefit of future generations.

Let’s not stop here with our accomplishments. Palau’s land and oceans are not just for us but for future generations. This (PAN) will support and protect our future generations.,” added Remengesau in his statement.

After 20 years, the program has evolved and spread to all the states with some having more than 2 or 4 PAN sites.  Mr. Idechong challenged the Olbiil Era Kelulau to amend the law, lifting the cap on the amount that could go to PAN sites and further challenge the leadership to bring PAN to the next level of improvement.

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