After five days of traveling around Micronesia, it’s time to summarize some of the things that have happened in the last two weeks.
Prior to leaving for the OneReef Micronesia trip, Rosania, Gloria and I from the Helen Reef Resource Management Program had attended the Palau Climate Change Meeting hosted by the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC). This meeting brought together scientists, representatives of the government, local organization staff, and community members. The two presentations given were presented by Ann Kitalong and Umai.
The first presentation by Ann Kitalong was titled, “Gaps and Needs Analysis towards a Climate Change Policy Framework”. To my best knowledge, this group gathered here today had previously met to discuss the objectives of their meetings. The overall objective was to validate key findings, with the driving force behind their efforts being community empowerment to build upon social networks to communicate, coordinate, share data, funds, and know-hows.
The information presented on Palau’s CO2 emissions easily showed that Palau must invest in sustainable energy management and place solid guidelines and regulations for energy consumption. From 1994 to 2005, there has been an increase in the energy sector by 334%. Energy is mainly used as distillate fuel for power generation, buses, trucks and the now over 8,500 cars on the islands. Palau is among one of the highest in carbon emitters in Micronesia.
Ann also talked about the necessity to gather already existing data from every organization in Palau and to then standardize the information. Further points made during her talk focused on:
- Combating natural and man-made disasters (using historical blue prints to aid with coastal protection—appreciating the natural protection from coral reefs and mangroves along the coast)
- The importance of improving waste management (the need to build a national landfill and hazardous waste facility with sustainable finance mechanisms, developing a zero-waste policy, and reducing Palau’s plastics dependency)
- Watersheds of Babeldaob
- Food security (developing and implementing a food security policy and improving land use planning)
- Energy resources (financial incentives, building code standards, using smart grids)
- Alternative energy (Palau wants 20% alternative and renewable energy by 2020—currently at 3%)
- Scientific data and technology
- Economic strategies (diversification of tourism products and other sectors, cost-benefit analysis of tourism industry)
- Biodiversity (updating and endorsing the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan, the Sustainable Lang Management Policy, environmental policies, integrating climate change and disaster risk management into PAN Management Plans, and the need for public transit)
One statistic that was brought up that caught my attention was that of the education sector. 20% of elementary school students do not finish eight consecutive years of school and 50% of high school students don’t finish four consecutive years of school. Thus, one of the main priorities should be to encourage the youth to continue their academic careers and career aspirations.
Umai talked about the “Palau Climate Change Policy Framework”. Policy should define the position of the government and other stakeholders on the issues of climate change. The focus should be mainstreaming; pursuing sustainable development through the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as understanding and responding to the adverse impacts of climate change. In order to mainstream, people should consult with the Palau Conservation Society’s (PCS).
The morning’s talks finished by bringing up the upcoming supermoon event—this event is noteworthy since there are certain areas in Koror where people are unable to bathe during Spring tide and during rain events, due to inundation of their homes and contamination of their water systems. This supermoon would be an event to watch as it may cause notably high high tides.