This Tiny Nation Is The First Country To Require Tourists To Sign Eco-Pledge

4 months ago

The tourism industry is booming around the world but with the increased tourism comes a new set of concerns. Many destinations have found the sudden influx of attention from tourists difficult to cope with. One such destination is Palau, an archipelago that spans across 200 natural limestone and volcanic islands. Located in the Pacific between Japan and Australia, these little islands offer pristine beaches and forests.  

This country has seen tourist numbers skyrocket and now receives over 160,000 visitors every year. That may not sound like a lot of people compared to other tourist destinations, but it’s eight times the islands’ 20,000 residents. As the 13th smallest country in the world, the impact of tourism is felt on every level.  

In response to the environmental damaged caused by the increased visitors, the country has created the world’s first conservation pledge. This pledge will be stamped into every visitor’s passport and must be signed before entry into the country is granted. 

The pledge reads, “Children of Palau, I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home. I vow to tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully. I shall not take what is not given. I shall not harm what does not harm me. The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.” 

Palau is the first country to change its immigration policy to incorporate a pledge like this as legislation to protect its natural environment. The pledge was based on the Palauan tradition of BUL, a moratorium created by Palau’s leaders that puts a stop to overconsumption or destruction of natural resources. 

Laura Clarke, a co-founder of the Palau Legacy Project, describes the pledge as something that helps “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. The Palau Legacy Project team came together to help communicate these important messages in a way that all guests would understand.” 

While the initiative was born out of a need to minimize environmental damage caused by tourists, locals have also take the pledge. Palauan children will be given a new curriculum to help instill environmental awareness and stewardship values. Local adults will have access to environmental responsibility programs. The tourism sector, in particular, will be the driving force to help visitors learn how to experience the area responsibly. As a sign of solidarity, people who want to support eco-tourism can sign the pledge online without having to travel to the country.

The authorities hope that this policy will help preserve the country’s environment and draw attention to the ecological concerns linked to tourism. To enforce the new law, violators will be subject to fines of up to 1 million USD. The President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr, was one of the driving forces behind this pledge and said, “Human impact on our earth’s environment is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today. As a small country we feel the impact of these actions acutely. We hope that the Palau Pledge raises global awareness of the responsibility that this generation has to the next.” 

While this new policy has captured the attention of people around the world, it isn’t Palau’s first significant environmental initiative. Palau was also the first country to ban bottom trawling and create a shark sanctuary. Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary, which is about the size of California, bans oil drilling and commercial fishing. Hopefully, the rest of the world will soon follow this tiny country’s lead and take similar steps to protect the environment. 

CommunityGreen Matters Is Hiring Freelance Writers!

We want your original, reported stories on sustainability.

By Green Matters
5 days ago
NewsThe UK Just Went 55 Hours Without Using Coal For Power

The UK's National Grid announced that no London power stations used coal for energy production for a span of 55 hours from late Monday into early Thursday morning. It beats the old record of just over 40 hours from last October, and wind power levels continue to impress.

By Brian Spaen
5 days ago
NewsPearl Harbor Is Officially Getting A 20-Megawatt Solar Farm

REC Solar is collaborating with Hawaiian Energy and the United States Navy to create a new 20-megawatt solar project at their base in Pearl Harbor. The West Loch solar farm is just the beginning of many renewable projects under the utility company.

By Brian Spaen
6 days ago
NewsAldi Recognized As Top British Market For Sustainable Fish

The Marine Stewardship Council revealed their list of top British supermarkets offering sustainable seafood, and Aldi tops the list with Sainsbury's and Lidl. In general, there's been a 60 percent increase in certified fish products being offered.

By Brian Spaen
6 days ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our daily newsletter