Over the past few weeks, you may have heard about a groundbreaking new initiative to protect the Pacific Island nation of Palau, an archipelago of over 200 islands: the Palau Pledge. This past December, Palau became the first nation on earth that requires all visitors to take an oath to protect it - entry visas won’t be issued to those who don’t sign.
Upon entry, “visitors need to sign a passport pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island, for the sake of Palau’s children and future generations of Palauans.” This successful campaign couldn’t have happened without Nicolle Fagan, an American One Young World (OYW) Ambassador who attended the 2014 Summit in Dublin.
When she first attended the Summit, she struggled with how she could give back and make a difference. She soon found herself moving to Palau, where she has been living for the past two years. Initially amazed with the pristine islands, she was distraught by the behavior of tourists who would openly disrespect Palau's environment - stepping on coral, throwing trash into the ocean, taking protected species with them.
She decided to team up with 3 women, an expat PR executive from Australia, a conservation warrior from Palau and a former marketing exec from Japan to find a solution. She believes this story is worth sharing to help inspire others who may be struggling with how to use their skills to make a lasting impact.
You can join their community and sign the pledge yourself.
Palau finds itself threatened by large-scale mass tourism that could destroy its fragile environment, rich in biodiversity, coral reefs and heritage sites. The pledge was drafted for and by children from all over Palau - every tourist who takes the pledge faces a fine if they don’t follow this sustainable tourism checklist:
- Don’t collect marine life souvenirs
- Do support local businesses and communities
- Don’t feed the fish and sharks
- Don’t drag fins over coral when swimming
- Do get others to respect the customs
- Don’t touch or step on coral
- Don’t take fruit or flowers from gardens
- Do learn about the culture and people
- Don’t touch or chase wildlife
- Don’t litter
- Don’t smoke in restricted areas
The Palau Pledge marks a huge milestone in the growing movement of conscious tourism - just two years ago, Palau turned most of its territorial waters into a 500,000 square kilometre marine sanctuary, banning commercial fishing and oil drilling in the reserve.
Check out the inflight video they created to brief visitors before arriving:
Palauans have also taken the pledge, its first pledgee being the President. So far, 14,613 people have signed the pledge online. A new education program is being rolled out to build eco-awareness amongst children who will lead their country in the future.
The Palau Pledge has gained extensive coverage, receiving support from several influencers including actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, former US Secretary of State John Kerry, conservationist Sylvia Earle among many more.
Island-nation Palau announces all visitors now have to sign a contract, stamped in their passports, promising to protect its vulnerable environment. Terrific leadership that affirms everyone’s responsibility to care for our world. Sign the #palaupledge: https://t.co/HLaNUqFn0L pic.twitter.com/QznCavghrn— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) December 7, 2017
Will you join us in taking the Palau Pledge? ⠀ ⠀ The Palau Pledge is a world-first eco-initiative that makes visitors sign a passport pledge to act in an ecologically responsible way on the island, for the sake of Palau’s children and future generations of Palauans.⠀ ⠀ “The Palau Pledge is about helping guests understand the vital role they play in protecting Palau for the next generation. Most visitors are unaware of the serious impact their actions have or even what they can do to help." -Laura Clarke, co-founder of the Palau Legacy Project.⠀ ⠀ Take the pledge at PalauPledge.com for their future, and ours. #NoBlueNoGreen⠀ ⠀ #PalauPledge #Palau #PalauChildren #MissionBlue #HopeSpots #SylviaEarle #OceanStories #OceanConservation #MarineConservation #OceanOptimism #ThinkBlue #Ocean #Sea #Shore #Blue #Beach #Conservation #OceanMinded