photo of rock islands (VOA Learning English)

Palau’s Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee (PPEF), a funding mechanism for the country’s key conservation initiatives, was able to raise a total of $9.1-million since its implementation took off last year, according to Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism Minister Umiich Sengebau.

Minister Sengebau bared the information in front of leading practitioners and experts in ocean governance and finance at the recently concluded Pacific Ocean Conference held in Yanuca, Fiji where he was invited as keynote speaker.

The PPEF is Palau’s strategy to generate funds to support the implementation of its Protected Areas Network and National Marine Sanctuary, among others, through a $100 fee imposed on each tourist that visits the country.

The Green Fee, which was formerly a separate fee implemented in 2009 and has now been incorporated in the PPEF, has enabled Palau to create 36 protected areas across the country, generate and program over $16,000,000, leverage over $10,000,000, and has employed more than 100 individuals from the communities, the minister revealed.

“The goal of these initiatives is always to maximize social and economic benefits for our people from the sustainable use of our resources,” the minister said in his speech.

The Minister, however, shared that despite the benefits accrued from the PPEF it is still reliant on the performance of the country’s tourism.

“If tourism numbers drop, so does the revenue from the PPEF. While this provides us with more incentives to take care of our natural resources, which most tourists come to see, it does mean that where drops in tourist numbers are outside of our control, the sustainability of our programs could suffer from the reduction in available funding,” the minister explained.

Minister Sengebau said that Palau also relies on the collaboration of its regional partners and the international community in supporting these initiatives. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas )