SUVA, Fiji—Globally renowned for his environmental action, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. is repeating his call for urgent global action on climate change as his country embarks on implementing the Palau Climate Change Policy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Low Emissions Development.
Over the past three years, Palau’s government agencies, civil society and the private sector have worked proactively to complete this policy, which has as its vision “Happy, healthy, sustainable and resilient communities in a changing world.”
The policy’s development was supported by the European Union through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and its Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States project; the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region program; and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly during the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda in New York, Remengesau stressed “there is still time to tackle climate change, the greatest challenge of our times, all countries and all people have a role to play in building a more sustainable future.”
Advancing Climate Action is Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals, calling for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts including measures such as integrating climate change into national policies, strategies and planning.
“In Palau, we are working hard to do our part and to take those next steps that will define our future. We have committed to provide 20 percent of our energy through renewable resources by 2020 and are already three quarters of the way there. We have also committed to become carbon neutral by 2050. Within this context, we have finalized a comprehensive Climate Change Policy,” Remengesau said at the UN Summit.
The Palau Climate Change Policy addresses climate change adaptation; management of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon sinks; and disaster risk management.
In commending the Government of Palau on completing this policy, the Director-General of the Pacific Community, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, said such proactive action by Pacific nations was essential, given climate change is a real threat to the livelihoods and sustainable development of Pacific people.
“Our region is at the sharp end of the climate crisis, despite the very small contribution of people in Palau and elsewhere in the Pacific Islands region to global emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. Appropriate adaptation and mitigation mechanisms can be developed when we understand the science and apply our local and traditional knowledge,” Tukuitonga said.
Underpinning the policy is a five-year action plan identifying and prioritizing interventions covering 10 objectives including governance, health and critical infrastructure, and costing around $500 million. The government is exploring domestic and international financing arrangements.
Charlene Mersai, the chief environmental planner of the Office of Environmental Response and Coordination, used the words of an African proverb to describe the extensive consultative process underpinning the policy development: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“The policy is country driven and country owned. More than 150 individuals from communities and civil society, private sector, and government agencies participated in a series of consultations culminating in a National Consultative Workshop and a Leadership Forum in 2015, where the policy received overwhelming support,” she explained.
“The success of the Palau Climate Change Policy lies in its implementation and Palau, with its strong and diverse capacities is looking forward to building a strong and secure future even in the face of a changing world,” said Remengesau. (SPC)