Visioning in Palau
Visioning - what is it?
visioning is essentially a long term planning process whereby
communities lay out a blueprint for changes they want to see within
their communities, they then implement the plan and evaluate their
progress on an ongoing basis.
experience with Community Visioning
visioning is designed to provide communities with the opportunity
to reflect on and decide upon a shared vision for the future.
By working together, visions can become a reality.
caption: Blindfolded participants at the August 2004 workshop
learn that the only way they can build a 'rope house' is
by working together
2001 the State Governors of Palau, during a meeting in Hawaii,
were impressed by a presentation on community visioning in Moleka'i
and Oahu, and decided to implement a similar activity in Palau.
A workshop was held in Palau with more than 100 participants,
during which the Moleka'i experience was presented and discussed.
A core group was formed after this workshop, chaired by Mr. Francis
Matsutaro, and the Palau Conservation Society was designated as
the secretariat to help with administration.
visioning process got off to a good start in several states. In
Airai a meeting was held with the state legislators and Planning
Commission. The group discussed their core values and their vision.
But there the process stopped, with the group recommending that
someone outside of the state be brought in to facilitate the process.
In Sonsorol State, a state consisting of four inhabited islands
with small communities, visioning was linked to the development
of a state land use plan. A vision statement was prepared, however,
the process came to a halt before a strategic plan could be prepared.
State Islands and people are unique culturally, socially
and environmentally to the rest of the Republic of Palau.
By nature, our islands are tiny in size and located further
away from neighbouring developed islands. In today's world
of new and improved technology, the islands are even farther
away due to lack of good communication technology and
reliable transportation. Nevertheless, we love our islands
and its cultures. We honour our ancestors who fist settled
in the islands and called them our home.
We envision preservation of our cultural values and
tradition of family respect and community of people
who live in harmony with each other
We envision protection and preservation of our islands'
environmental integrity and its limited natural resources
that people on the islands will live self sufficiently
and in harmony with the environment
We envision more people wanting to live on the islands
with feeling of security in health care services and
education for their children
also started in Koror, the most populated state of Palau. A group
was formed including the governor and legislators and a meeting
was held with the state community offices and government offices.
A vision statement was developed. A major issue was the type of
development that would be encouraged in Koror. The plan was to
take the vision statement and other outcomes to all the hamlets
of Koror for discussion, but it was difficult to get people to
come out for meetings.
2002 the visioning process stalled and with no clear time line,
the core group stopped meeting.
the 21st Annual Pacific Islands Environment Conference, held in
Palau in June 2002, there was renewed interest in the process,
especially after a keynote address by Mayor Jeremy Harris of Honolulu,
an island where the visioning process has been very successful.
Thereafter, the Palau Conservation Society requested help from
Small Islands Voice to reactivate the process.
in 2003, and with the support of Small Islands Voice, there has
been a re-awakened interest in community visioning. A community
awareness campaign has been undertaken: brochures in Palauan
have been prepared, as well as a poster.
A logo and slogan 'Communities at their best' have been designed
and the visioning activity has been discussed in newspapers and
aired on radio and television.
at their best
have been established between the Community Visioning State Representatives
and the Palau Conservation Society. The two states of Ngaremlengui
and Ngerchelong have been undertaking in-depth activities in 2004.
Disposable cameras have been distributed to 90 community members
(largely adults and a few youth), and community visits held to
discuss the project. Community representatives from the Palau
Conservation Society went from home to home in these two states
to ensure that the concept of the project was understood. Community
members were asked to return the cameras, with pictures of things
they like and dislike in their community. Certain themes emerged
such as a high value for taro patches and a dislike of trash along
the shoreline. Photo murals of billboard size (8 ft by 4 ft) have
been prepared by community representatives; one side shows things
people love and the other side shows things people want to see
changed. The murals will then be used as a starting point for
developing vision statements.
does the community want - the good or the bad?
refresher workshop on community visioning was conducted 3-5 August
2004. Ms Stacey Crivello from Moloka'i led this workshop, which
was attended by 35 persons, mainly Community Visioning State Representatives,
designated by their State Governors. The workshop served to reawaken
awareness and enthusiasm, to promote information exchange, and
to advance future project planning. A report
on the workshop is available. The workshop focused on the key
activities involved in preparing a vision statement and a strategic
plan. During the workshop, the nine states represented, Ngarchelong,
Ngardmau, Ngiwal, Airai, Ngeremlengui, Ngatpang, Koror-Meyuni,
Angaur, and Sonsorol, voted to continue or start the community
Community Visioning process is integral to the operations of the
Palau Conservation Society and it is the first of its three main
goals in the Strategic Action Plan. The Society has dedicated
a significant portion of its focus in 2004-7 to creating community
visions on the island of Babeldoab.
2005, the Palau Conservation Society has conducted more than 65
community visits to gain the acceptance and support of communities
for community visioning (see 2005
report). Planning workshops on the process of community visioning
have been held in different regions of Palau, and community facilitators
have been trained in organizational skills and conflict resolution.
Twelve states are actively working on vision statements, although
no state has yet completed its vision statement. Toolkits, photo
murals and video footage are being collected and used to facilitate
the visioning process.
Community facilitators examine the photo
mural created in Ngaremlengui State. The photo mural illustrates
both highlights and challenges in a community and is used as a
tool to assist with decision-making.
progress is steady, but slow. One of the greatest challenges in
this project has been in encouraging communities to shift their
way of thinking. More than a century of foreign rule followed
by a heavily governed independence (with many decisions made at
the Federal level) has removed communities from the decision-making
process. Most communities are used to having decisions made for
them and are not used to the idea that they have the right to
decide their own future, and in fact that they have ownership
of and responsibility for their own future and the future of their
lands. The Community Visioning Process is attempting to shift
the way of thinking and to empower communities to indeed make
their own decisions. Next steps will continue to encourage the
creation of Vision Statements but will accommodate the slower
Community Visioning process has continued throughout 2006. Four
states have completed their vision statements. As some communities
begin to move from preparing their vision statements to the next
stages of community assessments and strategic planning, the Palau
Conservation Society (www.palau-pcs.org)
has begun to conduct a series of workshops focusing on project
proposal development for community-based organizations. This will
develop capacity at the community level to take ideas and turn
them into attractive project proposals.
a national 'buzz' about the importance of having a common vision
has emerged. National and state leaders are emphasizing the need
for 'vision' and are utilizing concepts from the community visioning
process more and more often. For example, the community visioning
concepts are being used in community and leadership dialogues
currently underway to discuss land use and the possibility of
amending the national laws and constitution to allow for 99-year
leases of public and private lands.
major land use planning exercises in Palau expected to start shortly,
it is the hope that community visioning will provide the core
substance for a common vision for the communities and the nation.