Teaching Palauan Children to Care for Nature

Primary school students in Palau are learning how to care for their environment through a new book by local author Toni Soalablai. The book is titled Cheldechedechal a kekerei el ngasech el osiik er a daob (The Baby Hawksbill Turtle’s Adventure to the Sea).

Palau’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Olai Uludong, said the book was not for retail sale but was being used to educate the island’s first to third graders in elementary schools.

The story teaches children about the importance of the oceans, the lands and the living creatures around them are, she said. “One of the issues that the world is facing is the issue of plastics. It is important that our next generation learn the importance of the turtle and the challenge it has trying to survive in an ocean full of plastic. The key to change is inspiring the younger generation and educating them to respect and care for the marine environment and biodiversity for the future of humanity,” Ms Uludong said.

Uludong stated that it was her distinct honor to introduce the book at the UN in the margins of the Oceans negotiations on the Global Oceans Treaty also referred to as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions – BBNJ treaty to govern the high seas.

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Palau’s ambassador to the United Nations Olai Uludong holding copies of the children’s book by Toni Soalablai

The BBNJ negotiations began this past March in New York. The message put forth by the Pacific Islands Forum at the opening of the second session was quite clear: Any new treaty to improve governance of the high seas must ensure healthy resilient oceans and seas, promote greater coherence, and complement the relevant existing instruments, frameworks and sectoral bodies.

Speaking on behalf of the Forum chair, Nauru’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Margo Deiye, highlighted that Forum members were ready to do their part to conclude the negotiations by 2020. “As a region of navigators, we recognize that even with the best navigation, we must continue do the hard work, moving the oars in concert with one another, if we are to reach our destination,” said Ms Deiye.

Delegations from members of the Pacific Islands Forum who are currently negotiating at the United Nations Headquarters in New York indicated that the new BBNJ instrument must incorporate and recognize the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as the special case of Small Island Developing States and the interests of adjacent coastal States.

“This instrument needs to improve the kind of global management and conservation of areas beyond national jurisdictions, which is needed to protect our marine environment beyond the status quo, enable us to halt the loss of our valuable and precious marine biodiversity and make good on the commitments we have made to ensure a healthy and resilient Ocean,” said Ms Deiye.

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