During the 1st ever National Environment Symposium on August 23 and 24, 2016, some successful conservation efforts will be highlighted and discussed. The purpose of highlighting these successful initiatives is to allow us to learn from them and apply the learnings as we address the major challenges facing Palau’s environment. The three initiatives to be highlighted are 1) Protected Areas Network (PAN), 2) National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP) and 3) Climate Change Policy.
Palau’s Protected Areas Network is a conservation management tool for the states to protect both terrestrial and marine areas in order to conserve and manage Palau’s natural and cultural heritage. In the PAN framework, the states are encouraged and supported by the national government to locally manage their resources for the benefit of the states’ communities and the nation as a whole. The success of PAN is attributed to the fact that the project involves multilevel collaborative work among the state, national, regional and international arenas.
Since the PAN Act (6-39) was passed in 2003, PAN has had a many achievements including, but not limited to, (1) the great national and state-wide support where the decision-making process is a collaborative effort among all the levels of government in Palau; (2) improved and standardized scientific methods which provides baseline data on the status of key biodiversity in marine environments and ongoing research on the protected areas, as well as regular monitoring of the PAN sites; and (3) presenting information to the public through educational and promotional materials through community outreach. The greatest achievement of the PAN is the number of sites established in just 13 years. As of today, out of the 16 states of Palau, 15 states have at least one PAN site. In total, 41% of the near shore and 10% of the terrestrial sites are PAN sites, totaling 1,207.93 square km.
Another success that will be highlighted is Palau’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Palau drafted its first NBSAP in 2004. This planning document lays out the strategic direction needed for Palau to achieve its biodiversity conservation goals as well as the goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which Palau became a signatory to in 1998. The three main goals of the CBD are (1) conservation of biological diversity, (2) sustainable use of its components, and (3) the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of these resources.
The NBSAP has recently been revised and its current planning horizon spans 10 years (2016-2026). As a strategic policy document, the NBSAP is designed to promote wise development in order to achieve long-term cultural, economic, and environmental sustainability through conservation, sustainable use and protection of biodiversity. The pressures of an ever growing economy, as well as global Climate Change, makes the NBSAP necessary.
The NBSAP focuses on the following key strategic areas or targets: PAN sites, species protection, eradication of invasive species, improved awareness of NBSAP goals, improved livelihood through economic opportunity and development, food security, and mainstreaming conservation. Under each of these strategic areas, the NBSAP lays out the necessary steps and tools for government, private sector, non-governmental and civil society agencies to better manage and use the biological resources of Palau.
Finally, the biggest issue we face today is global Climate Change. We are already facing the effects of climate change such as ocean acidification, sea level rise, warming oceans, salt water inundation to taro patches and water lenses; as well as stronger and more frequent storms. Thus, a climate change policy is necessary in order to begin mitigating and adapting to the changing climate to preserve our small island nation and help us adjust more successfully to these impending changes.
Climate Change Policy development was led by the National Environmental Protection Council Ad Hoc Climate Change Committee composed of both public and private agencies and organizations from 10 sectors. More than 150 individuals were involved in the information gathering, priority ratings, and planning of the Climate Change Policy. Together, the Policy was created with the main objective of building a resilient nation in the face of climate change and its associated disasters. The Policy’s vision is “A Belau a kldmokl, mesisiich, moduades, e klekar” (or Happy, healthy, sustainable and resilient Palauan communities in a changing world).
The best part of this Climate Change Policy is the fact that it came about due to the Palauan community’s response to the effects of climate change. Adaptation and mitigation measures were underway even before the official implementation of the Climate Change Policy. This just comes to show the Palauan spirit of conservation and protection of Our Environment, Our Palau.
The public is invited to attend the symposium, which will be held at Ming’s Restaurant at Palasia Hotel on August 23-24, 2016. For those who will not be able to attend, they can tune in to Palau Wave Radio at 89.9 FM or Eco Paradise at 89.7 FM, as both radio stations will broadcast the symposium live on both days. [/restrict]