As “A Conservation leader” Palau is described in the July issue of the DESTINATION STEWARDSHIP REPORT (a joint project of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council -GSTC- and Destination Stewardship Center). Besides highlighting Palau for discouraging mass tourism and promote destination sustainability, the Report describes the focus of the country, led by its president, on natural conservation, with innovative policies and initiatives, such as:
- The world’s first shark sanctuary, created in 2009. Given that half of the world’s oceanic sharks are at risk of extinction, this sanctuary protects an area about the size of France where commercial shark fishing is banned.
- The world’s sixth-largest marine sanctuary, established in 2015 to protect 80% of its maritime territory, meaning no fishing, or other uses such as drilling for oil, in an area of tuna-rich ocean. Unique among responsible tourism pledges, the Palau Pledge is the entry visa stamp – and directed to the next generation.
- Introduction of the “Palau Pledge” in 2017, the world’s first mandatory eco-pledge. This signed promise, stamped in the passport of all incoming visitors, is a pledge to respect the environment and preserve it for the “children of Palau.” The pledge received almost 6000 signatures within the first two weeks.
- A “reef-toxic” sunscreen ban restricting the manufacturing and import of sunscreen containing toxic chemicals that lead to coral bleaching in 2018, followed by a world-first ban on selling harmful sunscreen products in 2020.
- Palau joined the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) in 2020 along with 13 other world leaders, in a commitment to sustainably manage 100% of national waters by 2025.
LT&C highlighted the conservation achievements of Palau already in 2015, which were further profiled in the event of the Global Islands Partnership (GLISPA) at the CBD COP14 in 2018 in Egypt, co-hosted by Seychelles, Palau and LT&C. It is time that a member or partner of LT&C takes the initiative to describe and authorise Palau’s outstanding achievements and further initiatives as an LT&C-Example to be replicated by other Small Island Developing Countries (SIDS).