Havas/Host’s Palau Pledge has proven that you can make a big difference with a simple idea and a new medium. It has won the highest creative awards in Australia and internationally, and kickstarted the change Palau needs in tourist behaviour. The Palau Pledge was created by Host/Havas, in partnership with the Palau Legacy Project, a local group that works alongside Palau’s government to help communicate Palau’s conservation message. Despite its status as the world’s 13thsmallest country, Palau’s tourist numbers have rapidly increased in recent years due to its extraordinary array of unique natural wonders and remarkable landscape.
The Pledge has now triggered the Australian Government’s help.
The Australian Government has announced an initial round of financial support of $60,000 USD in for a landmark eco-tourism initiative to support the sustainability of the Pacific Island nation of Palau. The small island nation with a population of 20,000 is seeking to overcome the negative impacts on its environment from the 160,000 tourists that visit annually and encourage visitors to think about their impact on the environment, globally. The grant also strengthens Australia’s ties with Palau.
It will go towards funding the new Pledge Business Accreditation Program, that will engage Palau’s private sector to help further the reach of the Palau Pledge in the community, engaging visitors in a positive way and communicating the aims of the Pledge. It will also help them ensure that visitors comply with Palau’s strict environmental laws and customs. The grant will enable The Palau Legacy Project team to continue to work with the grassroots conservation community and marine research organisations based in Palau, to help ensure greater understanding of the initiative and longer-term success of the Pledge, with a hope that it will also be rolled out in other countries around the world.
For those who haven’t been following this year’s awards, the Palau Pledge is a world-first program, a stamp added to the passports of all visitors to Palau, which must be signed before entry. Signing confirms visitors’ promise to Palau’s children to protect and preserve Palau for future generations. The content of the Pledge was written with the help of Palau’s children, and developed in collaboration with Palau’s Government.
The Pledge positively reinforces Palau’s environmental laws and traditions. Visitors who ignore the promise may be subject to penalties, including fines.
Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore have visited Palau to see the difference the Pledge is making first hand in preserving Palau’s pristine environment and ancient culture.
Bishop commented, “I am delighted to confirm that the Australian Government is supporting the Palau Pledge initiative to help preserve the beautiful and pristine natural environment of Palau for future generations. This work is an example of how Australian and North Pacific nations can collaborate to maintain a peaceful, prosperous and stable region.”
Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, President of Palau, noted, “We are grateful for the support from the Australian Government and Host/Havas which will make a significant difference in furthering the messages and aims of the Palau Pledge. Preserving our natural world is an important part of Palauan culture and The Palau Pledge is a truly innovative approach that brings to life our traditional wisdom in a way that our visitors can understand. This investment provides us with a strong foundation to build on the success of the Palau Pledge and engage our private sector in a long-term partnership to preserve our environment for future generations. The Palau Pledge has already made an immediate impact on visitors and the citizens of Palau, encouraging greater awareness of the responsibility we have to our children and our children’s children.”
The Palau Pledge has also been backed by a number of global figures including Leonardo DiCaprio, HRH Queen Noor of Jordan, Richard Branson, political influencers such as Secretary John Kerry and conservation luminary Dr Sylvia Earle.