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The Palau Pledge
By Jinny Throup
In the world’s first initiative of its kind, Palau, an archipelago of around 200 islands in the western Pacific Ocean, has introduced a “passport pledge” in an effort to protect the environment and preserve their homeland. The pledge is stamped into visitors’ passports and must be signed before they are allowed to enter the country. If anyone is found breaking the conditions of the pledge, they risk incurring a heavy fine. It was drafted with the help of children from across Palau, and everyone who signs promises that they will: not litter, not smoke in restricted areas, avoid treading on or touching coral, not collect shells as souvenirs, and respect the local customs and people.
In addition to getting this promise from the tourists who enter the country, the entire population of Palau, including the country’s president, have also signed the pledge. The goal is to make people keenly aware of their ecological footprint, and to give them clear guidelines on how to behave in a responsible manner. It is an innovative way to mitigate the damaging effects of mass tourism, and an idea that would perhaps be useful here on Ibiza.