Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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The Republic of Palau

One person from Palau attended a meeting of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia in December 2000. This workshop on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Small Island Living’ and an Open Day brought CSI project workers together. Discussion centered on project assessment and interaction with university chairs and the Internet-based forum. The results of the workshop were published as CSI papers 9 (2001) ‘Wise Coastal Practices Towards Sustainable Small-Island Living’. The participant from Palau presented a paper on the Palau perspective on wise coastal practices. One person from Palau attended a workshop on ‘Furthering Coastal Stewardship in Small Islands’ held in Dominica in July 2001. The results were published as CSI papers 11 ‘Wise Practices for Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Small Islands’. The participant from Palau presented a paper on ‘Coastal Stewardship in Palau’.

Measures to involve the public in planning and managing development in Palau started in 2000 with a Community Visioning exercise.

Ownership of traditional knowledge in Palau was discussed on the web-based ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ Forum, in January 2002, in a paper on ‘Indigenous Fishers’ Knowledge: Ownership, Predicaments and Research’. Another paper relevant to Palau was posted in April 2002: ‘Indigenous Fishers’ Knowledge - Further Discussion’. Palau’s involvement in the Small Islands’ Voice project was also discussed on the forum in April 2002: ‘Start-Up Activities for the Small Islands Voice Initiative’ (see also below).

The Small Islands Voice project started in January 2002. Its goals are to overcome the isolation of small islands by providing their citizens, including young people, with opportunities to voice their opinions on environmental and development issues in a variety of ways: radio, television, print and Internet-based debate. In this way they will: be able to contribute to the 10-year review of the ‘Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States’ adopted in Barbados in 1994; and play a more effective role in decision-making in their islands.

Palau was the launch point for the Small Islands Voice project in the Pacific. In February 2002 the Palau National Commission for UNESCO endorsed Palau’s involvement in the project. A UNESCO consultant and a UNESCO staff member from the Apia Office visited the country in February/March 2002 to launch the project. They met representatives of various organisations interested in the project: the media, educational and conservation organisations. Their visit and the start of the project were reported in the local press: ‘UNESCO Launches Small Islands Project’ (Tia Belau, March 2002); and ‘Palau Represents Pacific in Small Islands’ Voice Project’ (PINA Nius Online, April 2002). There is a four-person coordinating committee for the Small Islands’ Voice project in Palau. A UNESCO consultant visited Palau in June 2002 to advance on-the-ground activities.

A survey of the media serving Palau was conducted in March 2002.

A geographically representative interview survey to determine the environmental and development issues of concern to the general public in Palau was conducted between January and April 2003. The survey consisted of eight simple questions, it involved more than 1% of the population. A summary and a full report on the survey are available.

The first Small Islands Voice Inter-Regional Workshop’ was held in Palau International Coral Reef Centre in Koror in November 2002. The nearly 30 participants came from Australia, Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the Cook Islands, France, Palau, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, the San Andres Archipelago (Colombia), and the Seychelles. They represented governmental and non-governmental organisations and youth groups. Pupils from Mindzenty High School and Palau Community College participated in the workshop. The meeting promoted direct links between countries in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Caribbean; furthered specific activities for the Small Islands Voice project; and allowed issues emerging from the project to be considered for input to the 2004 review of the Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States. For further information see the background document and the workshop programme. Four of the Palauan participants prepared a paper on ‘Small Islands Voice Inter-regional Workshop Preparatory Document - Palau’. The workshop participants signed the ‘Rock Islands Declaration’ to emphasis their commitment to the goals and continuation of the Small Islands Voice project. The workshop was reported in the local newspapers: ‘Small Islands Voice Workshop Nov. 18-22’ (Tia Belau, November 2002); Small Islands Hold Workshop to Voice Concerns’ (Palau Horizon, November 2002); and Small Islands’ Voice Workshop’ (Tia Belau, November 2002) and in newspapers based in the Seychelles ‘Delegation Attends Small Islands Voice Project Inter-Regional Meeting’ (Seychelles Nation, December 2002) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines ‘Belma Flies SVG’s Flag in Palau’ (Searchlight, December 2002). The workshop and other Small Island Voice activities were also reported in CSI papers 13: Small Islands’ Voice- Laying the Foundation

Various other articles on environmental matters relevant to the Small Islands Voice project have been published in the Palau media: Youths Offer No-Nonsense Perspective’ (Pacific Daily News, June 2002); Stiffer Fines for Damages in Environment Sought’ (Palau Horizon, July 2002; Palau Seeks Environmental Identity’ (Pacific Islands Report, March 2002); Environmental News’ (Office of Environmental Response and Coordination, October-December 2002).

Pupils from Mindzenty High School in Palau were involved in the trial phase (September-December 2002) of an Internet-Based Youth Forum (user name view, password only). They posted a paper on Drug and Alcohol Use among Youth in my Island’ in November 2002. They also replied to papers posted by other young people from Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Nevis. Phase two of the youth forum started in February 2003. Pupils from Mindzenty High School continued to be involved. They posted a paper on ‘Palauan Traditions’ and replied to messages from young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Seychelles and the Cook Islands.

The Small Islands Voice Internet-based global forum was launched in October 2002. Its aim is to engage the general public in small islands in an on-line debate on issues relating to environment and development. The first discussion topic was road construction in Palau: Development at Any Cost?’ (October 2002, adapted from the Pacific Daily News, March 2002); Balancing Development and Environment’ (October 2002); Controlling Development’ (October 2002); and Further Views on the Palau Road’ (November 2002). A quantitative summary and a complete compilation of the responses to the road construction debate were produced.

The problems confronting the Motu Koitabu villagers in the National Capitol District and their demands to be more involved in government have been aired in the local press: Motu-Koitabuans Want Fair Share of Funds’ (The National Online, January 2002); ‘EU Boss Visits Motuans’ (Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, October 2002); ‘Koitabuans´ Cause Wins PM´s Backing (Papua New Guinea Post-Courier, December 2002).

Environmental News (vol 2, issue 4) was published by the Office of Environmental Response and Coordination in December 2002. 

In February 2003 the Small Islands Voice national coordinators and others from Palau, the Cook Islands, the Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines took part in an inter-regional conference call. They discussed phase two of the Youth Forum and the preparations for the 2004 review of the Small Island Developing States Programme of Action.

A representative from Palau participated in the Pacific Island Regional Information and Communications Technology Consultation in Fiji in April 2003.

A Second Regional Sandwatch Workshop was held in Dominica in July 2003. As part of the Small Islands Voice initiative young people from the Seychelles, the Cook Islands and Palau participated in the workshop.

 

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