Monday, December 2, 2013

President of Palau receives inaugural leadership award

His Excellency President Tommy Remengesau, Jr – 
Republic of Palau won the Pacific Champion Award.  Accepting the award on President Remengasau's behalf was the Minister for Natural
Resources, Environment and Tourism, the Honorable Umiich Sengebau.

By Eroni Tuinaceva, journalism student of Fiji National University

3 December 2013, Suva Fiji - The President of the Republic of Palau, Tommy Remengasau Jr, is the recipient of the inaugural Pacific Champion Award, an honour bestowed as part of the Pacific Islands Environmental Leadership Awards.

President Remengasau Jrwas given the award for his numerous achievements as a leader in nature conservation and environmental sustainability.

His accomplishments include banning shark fishing and keeping sharks caught as by-catch in Palau, securing USD$130 million for conservation in Palau, collaborating with the President of Seychelles, James Michel to form the Global Island Partnership, and spearheading the campaign to form a new portfolio in New York of Ocean Ambassador as an anchor for efforts to continue ocean conservation and sustainability.

His leading activism has seen him being honoured by Time magazine as the Hero of the Environment in 2007.

Accepting the award on President Remengasau’s behalf was the Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, Hon. Umiich Sengebau.

“It is a privilege and honour to receive the award on his behalf. Some of you may know he couldn’t be here because this week is the Micronesian Chiefs Executive Summit in Saipan, so he sends his apologies,” Minister Sengebau said.

“If he was here, he would be very humbled to receive this award. I know there are also a couple of people he would like to recognise for the award and most especially are the local partners in Palau, Palau Conservation Society and some of the international partners like Nature Conservancy and Conservation International. Most especially are some of the individuals, and I would be sure not to miss Ms Audrey Newman,” Minister Sengebau said.

Minister Sengebau also conveyed his gratitude to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Fiji Government for hosting the conference.

The inaugural Pacific Islands Environment Leadership Awards was held at the National Gymnasium in Suva.

Achievements of His Excellency President Tommy Remengesau, Jr – Republic of Palau
H.E. President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. of Palau is a recognised environmental champion. He became Vice President in 1992 and then President from 2000 to 2008. He regained the office of President in the 2012 elections and took office in 2013.

In his role as President, starting in 2000, he envisioned Palau as less dependent on foreign aid and more dependent on sustainably managing its natural resources. Linked to this he promoted the expansion and growth of the tourist industry through his policy and slogan Preserve the Best and Improve the Rest” for Palau today and for generations to come. In Palau's foreign affairs, President Remengesau has been active in enhancing Palau's presence in the UN and giving his country a global profile amongst the international community through environmental initiatives. His achievements include:

§  Initiating the Micronesia Challenge, a ground-breaking multicountry conservation initiative across Micronesia now being replicated in the Caribbean and in the Indian Ocean.
§  Along with the President of the Seychelles he is the founding President of the Global Island Partnership and continues to provide leadership and support to this initiative which has catalysed more than US$130 million for conservation and livelihoods on islands.
§  He successfully championed Palau’s protected areas network and the green fee which helps to fund it.
§  He changed the shark fishing laws for Palau to make it illegal to fish for sharks or to keep sharks caught as by-catch.
§  He created Palau’s Office of Environmental Response and Coordination – an innovative structure which enabled environmental considerations to be integrated into planning at multiple levels.
§  He is a leader in working to ban the destructive practice of deep sea bottom trawling –   banning it in Palau and advocating for a moratorium on it at the international level. As a result of his stand on bottom trawling, the practice has been severely curtailed in international waters. 
§  He is a visionary who is advocating for closure of the commercial fisheries for Palau to ensure the health of the reef and to secure local food security as well as protect long term tourism resources.
§  He has led the efforts, through creating a new position in New York of Ocean Ambassador to fight for a specific sustainable development goal on the ocean.

He has been previously recognized for his environmental leadership, including being named a Time Magazine Hero of the Environment in 2007. 
Eroni Tuinaceva is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji.  This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference.  This activity is  funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).

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