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Remarks by Her Excellency First Lady Debbie M. Remengesau African Women’s Forum Crans Montana “Women’s Empowerment in the Economic & Political Frameworks” Friday, March 16, 2018. Dahkla, Morocco
His Majesty King Mohammed VI, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Assalamualaikum or as we say in my country, ALII!
It is my distinct honor to be here for the CRANS Montana Forum among friends and allies from nations and organizations around the world, and I look forward to working to achieve our common goals together.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to His Majesty King Mohammed VI and the people of Morocco for hosting this forum. I would also like to express my deepest gratitude to President Pierre-Emmanuel Quirin of the Crans Montana Forum and its numerous staff – especially those working behind the scenes – for all their hard work in organizing this event and making our successful gathering possible. Thank you.
As your speaker, I am here today to deliberate on the theme of “Women’s Empowerment in Economic and Political Frameworks”. I would like to begin by sharing a little bit about myself and the cultural traditions of my country to give you some context and background.
My name is Debbie Remengesau. I am a Mother of 4, a Grandmother of 5, and a homemaker. I am from the Republic of Palau, a remote island nation situated in the north-eastern Pacific Ocean. By population we are one of the smallest nations on the planet with about 20,000 citizens.
I am married to a fisherman who has lately taken some time out of his fishing career to become the President of Palau…. Since my husband’s career change, we have less fish in the house, but I have the distinct honor of being Palau’s First Lady!
Palau is a matrilineal society. In our traditional leadership, women have always held positions of power and respect. In fact, it is the women of Palau who choose our male clan leaders and it is women who dismiss him if he is not doing a good job!
Our men dictate the security and protection of our communities and our country. In this way, men and women fulfil important interconnected roles that weave together the strong fabric of our society.
Our deep-rooted cultural wisdom and traditions have been faithfully passed down through the generations, prevailing despite many colonial occupations and outside influences – an experience I know we share with many African peoples.
In traditional and customary governance, Palauan women hold powers denied to many women elsewhere in the world – something I am very proud to say we also have in common with many African women!
A woman’s wellbeing is central to the wellbeing of our community: an example of this is our tradition of the “First Birth Ceremony”. This celebrates a woman’s strength in giving birth to her first child and is one of many that mark the revered role of women in Palauan society.
The influence of women is not limited to culture and traditional practices. Women played an integral role in our struggle for independence, and asserted that our traditional principles be at the heart of our nation’s new Constitution.
In what became a long and painful time in our history, our women leaders called upon the powers that have traditionally rested with women. Courageous women travelled between villages and islands; they shared information with communities and stood up to intense outside pressure in order to secure a “Nuclear Free” provision in our Constitution.
It was grassroots networking at its best, and at its hardest: women talked to women as they worked in their taro patches. This case now features in textbooks for students of government globally as an example of “women having political efficacy” but for us, this is the way we have always done things.
Today, inspired by our matriarchal cultural identity, women are active contributors both traditionally and in our modern development as a young nation. Women hold many roles in government and private sectors – from judges, doctors, teachers and businesswomen, to public officials in our State and National Congresses. We are one of only a few countries to have had a woman serve as vice president, and we currently have two women serving as Ministers in the President’s eight-member cabinet.
At this stage in our world’s history and in our humanity, this message of equality is of vital importance. But equality wasn’t the only valuable lesson our ancestors taught us…
Ancient Palauans long foresought the critical value of the environment, the land and the ocean, to our survival and to our way of life as Palauans – our cultural identity. We have long known what the rest of the world is fast discovering: that without a healthy environment, we have no future. As world citizens, it is our responsibility to protect, conserve, and respect our oceans and our lands – our precious planet. Our children, our future generation, are counting on us to preserve our resources for their survival. Palau is a large ocean state and the ocean that surrounds our beautiful island home is a constant reminder of how, despite our remote location, we are inextricably linked to the rest of the world.
Just like in a marriage, this link is for better, or for worse. Because of this connection, today we Palauans find ourselves unexpectedly on the front line of global environmental challenges such as climate change, global warming, and pollution. As a mother and a grandmother, this is deeply concerning to me. Pollution threatens our marine life and the coral reefs that sustain our livelihood. Rising water levels as a result of climate change have destroyed parts of our country and will soon completely devastate some of our Pacific island neighbors such as Kiribati and the Marshall Islands – leaving their people without a country to call home.
As a Palauan woman, responsible for home and land, this poses the greatest threat to our survival that our country has ever encountered. Our children’s future is in peril and it will take the efforts of all of us to rewrite the ending of this story. People say that Palau leads the world in conservation and it is true that we were the first country to ban nuclear testing, the first to ban the destructive practice of bottom trawling, and that our waters are the world’s first shark sanctuary – but all of these decisions were made using our ancient cultural wisdom of environmental stewardship: not doing these things simply did not make sense if we wanted our environment, and therefore our people, to survive.
Two and a half years ago, my husband and our traditional chiefs declared Palau’s national waters and exclusive economic zone the Palau National Marine Sanctuary, thus closing our ocean to commercial fishing and creating the largest percentage of fully-protected marine territory in the world. This move will help replenish depleting fish stocks, protect endangered species, and help our precious ocean recover… This decision was a modern interpretation of our traditional cultural practice, but this time, it would benefit the rest of the world, too.
To help spread this global message, at the end of last year, a women-led initiative in Palau created another world first: The Palau Pledge. The Palau Pledge is our official passport stamp and is printed into every visitor’s passport in their own language. Every visitor to our country must make an oath to the children of Palau. During their stay they promise to do the right thing to protect and preserve Palau and to respect our children’s home and their future. We hope that it will also make them think of the actions they take at home.
My husband has often been heard to quote the proverb “We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Imagine if our politicians, business leaders, legislators, and educators made decisions guided by an environmental Pledge to the next generation….
What a different world this would be. We are all connected, and ultimately, we are all just visitors on this planet.
As women, as the mothers and grandmothers of this world, we have tremendous power to effect real change in our communities and our countries. Together we are strong. So I encourage you today to be inspired by the women of Palau, who unite in times of crisis to take a stand for what’s right and lead their community.
We owe it to our children, and our children’s children, to take the lead when it comes to saving their future. I hope you can join me on this journey and together, we will restore their birthright.
First lady Debbie M. Remengesau
Hydrodynamic modelling by PICRC reveals Palau is more closely connected to Asian countries than with other Micronesian islands
While we know that Palau is connected to its neighboring countries by the ocean, we do not know the extent of this connectivity and whether fish and corals from nearby countries contributes to the populations here in Palau. To answer these questions of how fish and coral larvae move around in the ocean, Palau International Coral Reef Center enlisted the assistance of Professor Eric Wolanski, an oceanographer from James Cook University, to work with its researchers to examine the connectivity of Palau with its neighbors.
Using a hydrodynamic modeling, PICRC researchers and Dr. Wolanski predicted movement of coral and fish larvae that reaches Palau from different countries. Dr. Wolanski provided satellite-derived water current data, recorded at 5-minutes intervals, from all over Micronesia between 1993 to 2015. This data was used to drive the larva oceanography model to study the movement of fish and coral larvae across Palau and Micronesia.
The initial results of the modelling work by PICRC researchers were unexpected. While there is connectivity from Yap to Palau, this connectivity is small. Most of the connectivity to Palau is with Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, especially Biak Island in Irian Jaya. These results explain why Palau is so much more diverse than other Micronesian Islands, with diversity similar to those of high biodiversity countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia.
The ocean current systems coming from Micronesian islands like Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Guam, do not pass through Palauan waters. Instead, water from Indonesia and the Philippines are directly circulating into Palauan waters on and off via large-scale oceanic eddies.
The implications of the study are clear. While Palau needs to continue to work on conservation and management of its resources, it should also strengthen collaborations with neighboring islands. While Palau is part of the Micronesian region and should continue to work with other Micronesian islands, efforts need to expand to our neighboring countries of Indonesia and Philippines. We need to collaborate on efforts to minimize negative impacts to our reefs and fish populations.
The results of this study also support the creation of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary. Our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a pathway for many coral and fish larvae from our neighboring counties to reach Palau. Protecting this pathway is as important as protecting the source of these populations so Palau will continue to get it supplies of corals and fish from it neighboring countries.
This figure shows the source of fish larvae to Palau. The thickness of the arrow indicates the amount connectivity with thicker arrows indicating higher connectivity.
Picture from Left to rght: Geory Mereb, Dawnette (Uli) Olsudong, Professor Eric Wolanski, Lincy Marino and Marine Gouezo.
“Jesus Is Greater Than Moses”
Subed ra Kemeldillel a RINA EUNGEL DELONG
-Mlo smecher – March 4, 2018
-Kemeldiil – Friday, March 16, 2018
-A bedengel a mo tuobed ra mork ra 7:00am el mora Ikelesia ra Catholic el tal sikang e tuobed el mo mengemeldiil ra Ked Community Center, Airai e mochu ra ked ra telial sils
Subed ra Kemeldillel a UODELCHAD RA KEBOU AKEMI BROBESONG
-Mlo smecher – February 25, 2018
-Kemeldiil – Saturday, March 17, 2018
-A bedengel a mo tuobed ra mork ra 7:00am el mora Ikelesia ra Chedaol Telungalek ra Ngchesar, ea uriur ra misang eng mora blai ra Itedecheduch
Subed ra Kemeldillel a STOMI NGIRAITBANG BECHAB
-Mlo smecher – February 25, 2018
-Kemeldiil – Saturday, March 17, 2018
-A bedengel a mo toubed ra mork ra 8:00am el mora Ikelesia ra Catholic el ngara Ngiwal. Ea uriul ra misang eng mo kloi ra blil el ngara Imekang, Ngiwal e mengemeldiil el mo telial sils e mochu ra Olkull
Subed ra Kemeldillel a JAMES SEKOOL
-Ngelekel a Sekool Ormengii
-Mlo smecher – February 24, 2018
-Kemeldiil – Saturday, March 17, 2018
-A bedengel a mo tuobed ra mork ra 7:00am el mora Ikelesia ra Ngiwal (Delal a Chubechub) e mo mengemeldiil ra telmetang el mo ieta sils e mochu ra ked
Subed ra Cheldecheduch ra BECHIL A TOMMY NGIRBEDUL
-Cheldecheduch – Saturday, March 17, 2018
-@ Bai ra Maiberel, Medalaii, Koror ra 10:00am
House Party ra rengelekel a William Remengesau
Thursday, March 15, 2018
@ SLC – PC @ 6:00pm – 12:00am
House Party ra Elvira Franz ma ngelekel ra Umerei Andres
Saturday, March 17, 2018
@ Riptide Bar & Grill @ 6:00pm – 12:00am
House Party ra Godwin Siliang ma bechil ra Yorang Olebuu
Saturday, March 17, 2018
@ SLC – PC @ 6:00pm – Closing Time
PICRC and partners promote water conservation through various awareness and outreach activities
On Thursday morning, March 8, 2018, Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) CEO, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, along with Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) Water Quality Lab Supervisor, Kimi Ngirchechol, and Ms. Persis Omelau, started off PICRC’s water conservation awareness campaign by giving a short talk show on Palau Wave Radio with Mr. Salvador Tellames.
Starting off, Dr. Golbuu emphasized the importance of freshwater to our daily lives and the need for everyday conservation in the face of climate change and the threat of more severe droughts in the near future. Dr. Golbuu expressed, “water is not only important to us, for our daily survival, but it is also very important for the environment, starting from the tops of the hills down to the ocean.”
Back in 2016, Palau experienced one of the most severe droughts to occur in the region. Since then, it has become a pressing issue to conserve and protect our water sources. So, in collaboration with Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industry and Commerce (MPIIC) and Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC), PICRC and other relevant partner agencies are embarking on a project to address the issues of water conservation. With a grant from the Government of Italy, this project is divided into two parts. MPIIC and PPUC are tasked with identifying new or alternate sources of water in Palau, such as wells or springs.
On the other hand, PICRC, is tasked with outreach and awareness activities to promote better conservation of freshwater to students and the greater Palauan community through a unified theme “Melekau ra ralm el uchul a klengar”. With that task, PICRC’s annual Arts & Tides Calendar contest is themed “Water Connects Ridge to Reef”, emphasizing the importance of water and how it connects all aspects of the environment.
On March 22, 2018, PICRC will be hosting a “World Water Day Fair” at the Center’s grounds, with booths from various agencies, including EQPB, Belau Watershed Alliance, Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF), Palau Conservation Society (PCS), and PPUC. These activities are meant to stress one message, as delivered quite eloquently by Ms. Ngirchechol during the talk show, “people should start changing their behavior to minimize water use and that change in behavior should not be done in time of drought, it should start now.”
From left to right: Mr. Salvador Tellames, Ms. Persis Omelau, Ms. Kimi Ngirchechol, and CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu
“Peter Shares with Cornelius – Acts 10”
Subed ra Kemeldillel a HERMANA SPESUNGEL BINGKELANG
Ngelekel a Kelau Spesungel
Mlo smecher – February 19, 2018
Kemeldiil – Saturday, March 10,2 018
A bedengel a mo tuobed ra Fisheries Dock ra 7:00am el mora Beliliou e mengemeldiil el mo telial sils ea bilsengel a Kemeldiil a lmuut el mer Oreor ra osisiu el sils
NgaraMaiberel is the first to donate to PICRC’s 2019 Arts & Tides Calendar
NgaraMaiberel, the women’s group of Koror State, continues to show their support for Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and its education program by generously donating $350 to the 2019 Arts & Tide Calendar, “Water Connects Palau from Ridge to Reef.”
NgaraMaiberel is an active women’s association, consisting of women who represent the hamlets of Koror State. The group has been donating to the Center’s education program since 2016, after learning about the calendar contest from a presentation by PICRC Outreach Assistant, Ines Kintoki. Since then, the NgaraMaiberel group frequently visit the Center to learn more about its work in research and education programs. NgaraMaiberel is an active supporter of other events and organizations such as the annual Women’s Conference and youth activities in Koror.
This year, the NgaraMaiberel is the first sponsor to donate to the 2019 Arts & Tide Calendar. Ms. Terry Ngiraingas and Ms. Ida Ngirmang presented their donation to PICRC CEO, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Research Department Director Ms. Geraldine Rengiil and Aquarium Director Ms. Ilebrang Olkeriil, and other PICRC staff. In presenting their donation, they shared the term, “Oidel a Chas” which means “to pass on what we are doing from one generation to the next.” This notion of passing knowledge and wisdom through generations is one of the reasons NgaraMaibel supports PICRC, as it strives to achieve its vision – to empower Palauan people through science and knowledge.
PICRC is very honored and is always grateful for these donations from NgaraMaiberel and will continue to engage with them as well as all the donors. For more information about the Arts & Tides Calendar, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Ines Kintoki at 488-6950.
NgaraMaiberel presents its donation of $350.00 to Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) to support the 2019 Arts and Tides Calendar, Water Connects Palau from Ridge to Reef. Left to right: PICRC Research Director, Geraldine Rengiil, PICRC Aquarists, Harlen Herman and Asap Bukurrou, Ms. Terry Ngiraingas with her grandson, Ngirngesang, PICRC CEO Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, Ms. Ida Ngirmang with her grandson, Meteu, PICRC Development Officer, Andrea Uchel, Palau Aquarium Director Ilebrang Olkeriil and PICRC Accounting Clerk Jenna Mersai.
PICRC study emphasizes the importance of coral reefs in mitigating climate change impacts
As a small island nation, Palau is vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, as well as more frequent and more intense typhoons. Globally, many countries are building sea walls to help in reducing wave height and water levels as a result of intensifying storms. Fortunately, in Palau, the reefs surrounding the island are still in good condition, thus providing the needed protection against strong storms. However, as seen in 2012 and 2013, with Typhoons Bopha and Haiyan, typhoons are getting stronger and our current reef system will not be enough to protect the lowest lying coasts.
In a recently published paper in the scientific journal, Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, scientists from Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) and University of the Ryukyus, investigated the effects of climate change on Melekeok State. Authors of the paper “Projecting of wave height and water level on reef-lined coasts due to intensified tropical cyclones and sea level rise in Palau to 2100” include Dr. Chuki Hongo and Dr. Haruko Kurihara from the University of the Ryukyus, and Dr. Yimnang Golbuu from PICRC.
This study focused on the reef off of Melekeok and its potential in reducing wave action to the low-elevation coast of Melekeok. The study had two objectives: (1) provide quantitative projections of wave height and water level in the present reef compared to future reef projections (degraded and healthy); and (2) to estimate the potential of the reef to grow, as well as the needed production rate in order to effectively reduce the current risks to the low-lying coastline.
The study looked at the reef in Melekeok and predicted the risk of coastal damages in the case of more frequent and intense typhoons that are likely to occur by the end of the 21st century (Year 2100). The study concluded that if the reef continues to grow and remain healthy, it will act as a natural barrier and will aid in the reduction of wave impacts to the shore by reducing wave height and strength. On the other hand, if the reef is degraded, with continued sea level rise and intensifying typhoons, wave motion and water levels will negatively impact the coastline, flooding the roads and eroding the coastline.
The take home messages from this study are as follows: (1) it is necessary to continue monitoring coral cover, coral larval recruitment, as well as the occurrences of stressors, such as typhoons and bleaching events; (2) maintain and improve the health of the reef by enhancing the protected areas with appropriate management strategies; (3) consider alternatives such as restoration efforts i.e. coral transplanting projects; (4) establish evacuation protocols in case of typhoon-related emergencies; and (5) set up technology to accurately predict typhoon intensities and subsequent impacts such as flooding.
For a copy of the paper, please contact Ines Kintoki at e-mail, email@example.com or visit the PICRC library.