Palau is the first nation on earth to “change immigration laws for the cause of environmental protection.” From now on, visitors of the country must sign a passport pledge promising to act in an ecologically responsible way. To quote the official website, “A pledge of, for, and by Palau’s children.”
The pledge is not only a monumental step forward in the battle to conserve our climate, but Palau delivers its message with elegance and sincerity. It reads like poetry:
Children of Palau,
I take this pledge,
as your guest,
to preserve and protect
your beautiful and unique island home.
I vow to tread lightly,
act kindly and
I shall not take
what is not given.
I shall not harm
what does not harm me.
The only footprints
I shall leave are those
that will wash away.
Alongside the passport pledge, Palau has created a compulsory in-flight video for passengers traveling to the archipelago. It features a Giant, representing mass tourism, that moves carelessly within the islands. The children of Palau explain to the Giant the destruction he is causing, and the Giant reflects, and returns to the children to learn.
Palau includes an “Ethical Tour Guide” on the pledge website, including rules and suggestions such as,
- Don’t collect marine life souvenirs
- Don’t drag fins over coral when swimming
- Don’t touch or chase wildlife
In addition to these historical changes, Palau is also undertaking the impressive task of reforming its primary and secondary school curriculums to reflect ecological awareness and protection. Palauans have also signed the agreement. In their own words, “With the Palau Pledge, this small nation is trailblazing a new model of conscious tourism.”
Hopefully, these efforts together will help protect the archipelago’s biodiversity and landscapes, and their coral reefs, Rock Islands, luminescent lakes, glowing beaches, and outlandish diving spots will be available for generations to come.
Photo Credit: Matador Networks