Koror — The Australian government has donated US$60,000 to Palau in support of the Pacific nation’s eco-pledge initiative — a program that seeks to strike a balance between tourism growth and environmental preservation.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop handed the check to Palau State Minister of State Rehuher-Marugg for the Palau Pledge Initiative.
The “Palau Pledge,” which is aimed at curbing ecological damage caused by increasing numbers of tourists, is stamped onto every visitor’s passport. Visitors to Palau are required to sign the pledge that binds them to respect the environment.
At a reception at the Elelai Restaurant, Bishop said she is “particularly struck” by the Palau Legacy initiative and that the Australian government wanted to show its support for the effort.
Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Biship hands over the US$60,000 check to Palau's Minister of State Faustina Rehuher-Marugg for Palau Pledge Initiative.
“We deeply appreciate the beauty and the value of environment here in Palau,” she said. “This eco-pledge is really something very special, the Australian government supports you in your efforts to ensure that the environment is treasured and valued.”.
She said the money is given to the Palau Pledge initiative to “ensure that it can continue to endure and achieve its most amazing aspiration to have a pristine environment here in Palau.”
After receiving the check, Marugg turned it over to Elia Yobech, whom she introduced as president of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary.
Marugg may have meant Friends of the Palau Marine Sanctuary, a non-profit organization that is affiliated with the Palau Legacy Project, which created the Palau Pledge Initiative.
Bishop arrived in Palau on Sunday for the first leg of her North Pacific visit.
The Australian delegation included International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and Labor Sen. Claire Moore.
From Palau, they will fly to FSM and the Marshall Islands from June 3 to 7.
Bishop said the delegation is meeting President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and Palau officials today to discuss “shared interest.”
She said the North Pacific tour is envisioned to establish a framework in which “we can work collaboratively together to ensure a peaceful, sustainable economic development here and a safe and secure environment.”
The bipartisan group also signed the Palau Pledge at the reception.
The delegation leaves for Pohnpei this afternoon for a scheduled visit to Nan Madol, a World Heritage site. The group will meet the Australian volunteers, the staff of the Australian Embassy in Pohnpei and inspect Australian patrol boats.
Minister Faustina Rehuher-Marugg accompanies Australia's Foreign Minister through Belau National Museum exhibits.
In Ebeye, the group will hold discussions with Minister-in-Assistance Hon David Paul and inspect the Ebeye Water Sewer and Sanitation Project In Kwajalein, the group will be briefed on the functions of US Army Garrison.
The last stop is Majuro when they will also hold discussions with Foreign Minister John Silk and visit Women United Together Marshall Islands.
The Australian Government is making a push to re-establish itself in the Pacific amid growing China’s influence in the region.