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Back Local News President Toribiong talks about Palau’s sustainability programs

President Toribiong talks about Palau’s sustainability programs

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PALAU President Johnson Toribiong opened the final day of the Island Sustainability Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Toribiong spoke about the sustainable programs that have been implemented that enabled Palau to move forward with their long-term plans to create a sustainable island. 

The threat posed by rising sea levels to island nations and coastal cities has been acknowledged by the United Nations as a matter of critical importance.

Toribiong recognizes the threat and wants to seek immediate and long-term solutions for the island. Toribiong mentioned some residents of other islands buying lands in other places such as Fiji. He said, “The threat to some sovereign nations create an exodus of people out of the islands.”

Toribiong believes one of the solutions to climate change is to transition from the use of fossil fuels, which is a finite energy source, to renewable energy from the sun, wind, and other sources.

He said implementing sustainable methods for energy generation and adopting green initiatives in Palau will not be difficult since the island community embraces a concept called “bul.” Palauans adhere to the principle of “bul,” which means to “conserve.”

Initiatives

Palau has installed solar panels at the Palau International Airport, the National Capitol Building, the Department of Education, Solid Waste Recycling Center, National Development Bank of Palau, and the Palau Energy Office.

According to Toribiong, the government received funding from the European Union, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Republic of China to have the panels installed.

The government also installed 120 solar lights along the street of Palau’s capital, Koror, and other locations all over the island. To encourage the population to shift from energy-wasting light sources, the government implemented a program allowing residents to exchange their light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights. So far, around 20,000 compact fluorescent lights have been distributed by the program. 

Toribiong is also proud of the energy subsidy program implemented in conjunction with the National Development Bank of Palau and funding partners. The subsidy program allows homeowners to install energy-efficient measures in their newly constructed homes.

Toribiong said establishing partnerships with other islands is essential to making change happen. As an example, he cited the Green Energy Micronesia (GEM) movement he created with leaders from the FSM and Marshall Islands.

The island nations under GEM share a common goal of generating 20 percent of power from renewable energy and achieving 30 percent energy efficiency by the year 2020.

High note

The 3rd Sustainability Conference ended on a high note with participants looking forward to a greener future for their respective villages and island communities.

Elvie Tyler, sustainability coordinator of the University of Guam's Center for Island Sustainability program, feels positive about the results of the conference. She said, “The conference allowed everyone to share and learn what they can do to protect the environment and live a sustainable lifestyle on Guam.”

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