Ten (10) Babeldaob States adopted a document designated as “Vision” applicable to all of them.
The Minister of the MNRET, F. Umiich Sengebau, praised the initiative in a letter sent to the Governors of the Babeldaob States, emphasizing the “State-led” and “community-based” cooperation.
“This is the first time in Palau’s modern history that all ten Babeldaob States and the MNRET have jointly agreed to a common Vision for development,” Minister Sengebau said.
Representatives from the ten States of Babeldaob in the Joint Coordination Body (JCB) signed an agreement to uphold a list of shared values and goals for the island’s economic growth, as well as its environmental conservation.
The agreement states that the ten Babeldaob State governments will seek out “diverse, appropriate investment” in local projects and businesses in order to bring about “collective benefits” for the public.
The Vision, signed by all members of the Babeldaob JCB on September 23, is designed to guide the JCB in its identification of programs and legal actions for the States to implement in order to develop infrastructure and conservation.
The Vision and Core Values for Development identifies a wide range of standards for the States, such as government support for locally-owned businesses, locally-harvested food, shared participation in ecotourism enterprises, minimizing waste and pollution, and maintaining clean water supplies. The Vision also emphasizes promoting respect for traditional culture.
The Babeldaob JCB is made up of one Governor-approved representative from each of the ten States of Babeldaob, as well as a representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism (MNRET).
This agreement follows in the wake of the Third National Environment Symposium (NES) in August, and the subsequent briefing in September which gathered candidates for the presidency, the Senate, and the House of Delegates to discuss how to implement food, economic, and environmental security in government policy. Many of the candidates identified the need for unified objectives and “sustained conversations” within the government, as well as state involvement, as a challenge facing Palau’s development.
“We are saying that we want to be self-sufficient and sustainable, but to be self-sufficient it starts at the state level,” said senatorial candidate Risong Tarkong, calling on state governments to adopt a shared agenda to provide food and economic security.
Within the next year, the JCB has said that it will establish a range of action areas and programs in order to address the needs in the sectors of housing, agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, forestry, invasive species, and sustainable tourism.