PEIN Country Profile and Virtual Environment Library
Micronesia - Pacific (Oceania)
National Focal Point(s) for Environment
Government of the Republic of Palau
Environmental vulnerability in Palau is high due to diverse, but limited natural resources and fragile ecosystems that must withstand the pressures of a rapidly growing population, an increasing tourism industry and the expected rapid and large-scale development of Palau’s largest island, Babeldaob.
Urbanization, suburbanization and ineffectual management of natural resources has led to increased pressures on public infrastructure, as well as Palau’s fragile environment and water supply and the continuing depletion of Palau’s natural resources. Lack of capacity, funding and commitment continue to be main constraints. While additional agencies and bodies have been established to address the issues of capacity and coordination, there continues to be the need to improve capacity building and coordination efforts. The affects of urbanization are being felt in Koror: increased number of vehicles result in morning and afternoon traffic jams, sewage treatment and waste disposal facilities are becoming overburdened, and mangrove areas have been cut and filled to create new land for buildings.
Palau has ratified a number of regional and international agreements which include the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol, the UN
Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
(UNCBD), and acceded to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
To help protect the health of Palau’s marine resources the government has placed restrictions on
many species of marine life and also ratified several instruments such as the Convention for the
Prohibition of Fishing with Long Driftnets in the Pacific (Wellington Convention) to prohibit fishing
with long driftnets in the South Pacific. Palau is also a Member Country to the South Pacific
Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). One major focal area for Palau is the development and management of protected areas and a protected areas network. Currently, there are 23 protected areas recognized in Palau. In November 2003 the Republic of Palau passed legislation to establish a Palau Protected Area Network (PAN). Through the PAN, Palau will be able to better manage their natural resources by coordinating the efforts of the already existing protected areas as well as encouraging state governments to propose new protected areas that are high in biodiversity.
Renewable energy is also a major focal area for Palau. Various national projects are currently
underway to address increasing demands for efficient and renewable energy. These include the
Sonsorol and Hatohobei Solar Energy Development Project, the Palau-Saga University Ocean
Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Project and the Palau Energy Code Development.
While Palau has not yet ratified the Basel Convention, Palau ratified the Convention to Ban the
Importation into Pacific Island Forum Countries of Hazardous Wastes and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes Within the Pacific Region (Waigani Convention) on January 2, 1996.
Water Resources Management
The primary source of fresh drinking water in Palau is from precipitation, which provides 410 billion
gallons of available water each year. Groundwater is found in Palau, but the groundwater lens is
believed to be relatively thin and only contributes approximately 40 billion gallons of water annually. The combination of these two sources provides Palau with 450 billion gallons of renewable water annually. Palau’s water supply is extremely vulnerable to droughts. Although rainwater is a renewable source of water, it is subject to seasonal and yearly variations and Palau has inadequate water storage capabilities.
Threats to Palau’s water resources include man-made contamination and drought. Increasing
development, poor land use, and deforestation in combination with heavy rainfall is leading to
increasingly turbid and contaminated water. Although Palau is currently able to meet its water needs, water demand is growing and is expected to increase in the near future. In order to curb this increased demand, water conservation programs and public education will be critical.
Solid waste and wastewater management
National and regional projects to address Palau’s solid waste and wastewater management issues
include the EQPB education program, Malakal Wastewater Treatment Plan and the International
Waters Programme (IWP – SPREP). Key national constraints to planning, developing and
implementing solid waste and wastewater management projects in a sustainable manner include small service area populations and lack of financing, technical expertise and organizational structure and management as well as the overall lack of land use planning and public awareness.
NATURAL RESOURCE DEPLETION:
Palau Conservation Society (PCS) conducted community consultations on resource use as part of a resource use study conducted under the stocktaking and assessment phase of the development of the nation’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). The community consultations have confirmed that throughout Palau, people are still very dependent upon the rich marine and terrestrial resources of the country. Marine resources, in particular, are heavily used and every area in the nearshore marine environment is important to local resource collection activities. Terrestrial resources are not as heavily exploited as they were in the past, although taro patches and small-scale family farms continue to provide vegetables and starches to people throughout Palau. Changes have occurred in the ways resources are used, why they are used and who uses them. People are collecting the resources, especially in the marine environment with new and more effective gear. They rarely follow traditional methods that tended to limit catch. More and more, people are collecting or harvesting resources for monetary income rather than solely for local subsistence uses. In addition, projects such as road building, mangrove filling, and dredging have altered the habitats in many areas to such a degree that once abundant marine species are now hard to find and taro patches are not as productive as they once were. Some resources, especially marine fish and invertebrates, are not being used sustainably in most states, and people are concerned about the changes they have observed. However, other resources (farmed crops) are sustainably used in most places and appear to be healthy and thriving. (PCS, 2003a)
Invasive species are considered to be possibly the greatest threat to biodiversity in the Pacific Islands and in Palau they are a major threat to terrestrial resources. Palau has many invasive weeds. A recent report (Space et al, 2003) on invasive weed species of environmental concern in Palau found:
• 4 species that are presently subjects of eradication programs
• 53 species that are in Palau are known to be invasive or potentially invasive.
• 95 species that are invasive or weedy elsewhere and are common, weedy or cultivated in
• 15 native species (or Micronesian introductions) that exhibit aggressive behavior.
• 249 species that are invasive elsewhere in similar ecosystems but not currently known in
Palau (potentially invasive).
Action for Palau’s future: 2009-2014 - The medium term development strategy: Environment (*explanatory booklet)
Adaptation Learning Mechanism [climate change adaptation] country profiles
Asian Development Bank Country Profiles and Strategies
Biodiversity Clearinghouse Mechanism websites
Biosafety Profiles [CBD Biosafety Clearinghouse Mechanism]
Birdlife [Avifauna] Profiles
see also Species profiles [*For the Globally Threatened Birds (those evaluated as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable), each factsheet contains a summary account, range map and an illustration, plus additional data tables. For Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Near Threatened, Least Concern and Data Deficient species, each contains a concise summary paragraph and some additional data tables.] [Birdlife International]
see also Endemic Bird Areas [EBAs] of the Pacific [incl. Aitutaki (secondary area) ; East Caroline Islands ; Fiji ; Gilbert Islands (secondary area) ; Henderson Island ; Mariana Islands ; Marquesas Islands ; Marshall Islands (secondary area) ; Nauru (secondary area) ; Niuafo‘ou (secondary area) ; Niue (secondary area) ; Northern Line Islands (secondary area) ; Palau ; Pitcairn (secondary area) ; Rapa (secondary area) ; Rimatara ; Rotuma (secondary area) ; Samoan Islands ; Society Islands ; Southern Cook Islands ; Tonga (secondary area) ; Tuamotu archipelago ; Wake Island (secondary area) ; Wallis and Futuna (secondary area) ; Yap Islands ] [Birdlife International]
see also Important bird areas of the Pacific [IBAs] (2010) [Birdlife Pacific]
* order the complete CD-ROM 'Important bird areas in the Pacific: a compendium' from theSPREP IRC
see also Pacific regional overview [Birdlife International]
see also Globally Threatened Birds (those evaluated as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) of Oceania [Birdlife International]
see also State of the World's birds website and report [Birdlife International] - including Pacific country case studies
Country Climate Profile [UNDP]
* Sourced from the Adaptation Learning Mechanism, a knowledge sharing platform developed by UNDP in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Earthtrends Thematic Country Profiles [WRI]
Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and protected areas, Climate and atmosphere, Coastal and marine ecosystems, Economics, business and the environment, Energy and resources,Environmental governance and institutions, Forests, grasslands and drylands, Population, health and human well-being, Water resources and freshwater ecosystems.
Ecoregion Profiles [World Wildlife Fund]
Tropical Moist Forests
Environment Statistics (*Office of Planning and Statistics)
Environmental Vulnerability Index - Country Profiles [SOPAC / UNEP]
EU Pacific Country Environment Profiles
see EU Country Partnership Profiles [incl. environment and EDF10 strategies]
Fishbase Biodiversity Country Profiles (all fish)
Fisheries Resources Profiles
Palau [*draft] (1994?; 3.57mb)
Forestry Country Profiles
Forestry Department Country Profiles [FAO]
see also FAO Forest Resource Assessment : Country Reports 
Palau (2101; 275kb)
see also State of the World's Forests 2007: Asia and the Pacific [FAO] (2008; 1.77mb)
see also Tropical and subtropical forest profiles prepared by the World Wildlife Fund
see also Mongabay Rainforest profiles:
Global Biodiversity Information Forum [GBIF] Country Profiles
see also GBIF Google Earth Country Links
Global Environment Facility (GEF) Country Profiles
Use the drop down menu to go to the individual profiles - includes GEF-4 Allocation and Utilization , Approved Projects and Projects Under Preparation
Integrated Water Resource Management Profiles [SOPAC]
Invasive Species : Country Profiles [ISSG]
see also PIER reports on invasive species in Pacific islands:
Micronesia (all) , Palau (2002); - update - 2008
see also NBII Invasive Species information Node profiles
Laws and legislation
see also 'Legislative reviews' in Country Reports (below)
Mangrove and Wetlands Profiles [ *from Proceedings of the Pacific Regional Workshop on Mangrove Wetlands Protection and Sustainable Use . SPREP, 2002.]
Palau (2002; 203kb)
see also: A Directory of Wetlands in Oceania 
see also: Wetlands of the Pacific Island Region (2008; 882kb)
see also: IWMI Global Wetlands - Interactive Web Map Server - includes countries of Oceania
see also: Wetlands in Oceania - country profiles and wetlands information [UNEP-WCMC] - Palau
Marine Resource Profiles
State of the marine environment in the South Pacific Region (1990; 3.48mb)
Reefbase Country Profiles (coral reefs, reef fish, biodiversity)
see also GIS data for corals in the Pacific from Reefbase - browse by country and reef profile
see also GIS data for marine protected areas in the Pacific from Reefbase - browse by country and ecosystem
MPA Global Profiles (marine protected areas database)
Mapservers containing country level data on land utilisation, forestry, minerals etc.
Pacific Biodiversity Information Forum Country Data:
Pacific Regional information System - PRISM [SPC]
Environmental and Climate Statistics
Political Reviews [Contemporary Pacific]
Protected Areas Management Effectiveness profiles
Palau (*use drop down menus on website to access country data)
see also: Protected Areas of the Pacific Islands profiles [UNEP / WCMC]
Maps of the Pacific Islands
Wetlands in Oceania - country profiles and wetlands information - Palau
see also GIS data for marine protected areas in the Pacific - browse by country and ecosystem
see also MPA Global Profiles (marine protected areas database) above
see also SPC Joint Country Strategies
SPREP Country Profiles: Exchange of Information by Members at SPREP Annual Meetings:
- Exchamge of information by Members on National Developments related to Natural Resource Management Priority of the Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 6.1: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 18th SPREP Meeting of Officials in Apia, Samoa on 11th to 14th September 2007
- Exchange of information by Members on national developments related to Pollution Prevention priority of the SPREP Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 8.6: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the19th SPREP Annual Meeting of Officials in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia on 8–12 September 2008
- Exchange of Information by Members on National Developments Related to the Climate Change Focus Area of the SPREP Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 11.2: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 20th SPREP Annual Meeting of Officials in Apia, Samoa on 17 - 20 November 2009
- Exchange of Information by Members on Year of Biodiversity 
see Agenda Item 11.3: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 21st SPREP Meeting of Officials in Madang, Papua New Guinea on 6-10 September 2010
see also individual profiles for: Wallis and Futuna
Sustainable Development Profiles (UN Agenda 21)
Threatened species: Summary of species on the 2008 IUCN Red List
UNEP Country Profiles [* poorly maintained and little information available]
Water Data Country Profiles [USGS]
WHO Environmental Health Profiles
World Bank Environment indicators
World Factbook Country Profiles [CIA]
World Ocean Database 2005 [NOAA]
Geographically sorted data for the Pacific Ocean [datasets]
see also Environmental indicators: South Pacific (UNEP: 2004; 6.23mb)
see also Polynesia / Micronesia Biodiversity Hotspot Ecosystem Profile (2007; 1.16mb)
Asian Development Bank Country Environmental Analysis Reports
Palau (2007; 933kb)
Barbados Programme of Action + 10 (BPoA)
National Assessment Reports: Palau (2005; 558kb)
Pacific Environment Outlook (2005; 30.99mb)
The Conference on Small Island Developing States (Barbados Conference, 1994) highlighted the importance of island biodiversity as an ecological corridor linking major areas of biodiversity around the world. The conference called for international co-operation and partnership to support the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their efforts to conserve, protect and restore their ecosystems. The Barbados Plan of Action recognizes the importance of the coastal zone as a source of subsistence and economic development.
Country Strategy Papers and National Indicative Programmes [European Union - EDF10]
Palau (2008-2013; 2.22mb)
Mauritius Strategy + 5 Review: National Assessment Reports [5-year Review of Progress Made in Addressing Vulnerabilities of Small Islands Developing States Through Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation (MSI) of the
Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) ]
Palau (2010; 1.83mb)
Medium Term Development Plan 2009-2014 (2009; 2.54mb)
Montreal Protocol: National Compliance Action Strategies to implement the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Palau (2001; 176kb)
National Action Programmes (NAP) to combat land degradation [UNCCD]
Palau (2004; 212kb)
National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans (NBSAP)
Palau (2005; 642kb)
see also National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: Pacific Regional Review (2007; 269kb)
National Biosafety Frameworks
see National Reports on the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol
Palau (2008?; 78kb)
NCSA Status (NCSA website)
National Integrated Water Resource Management : Diagnostic Reports - drafts only [SOPAC]
Palau (2007; 1.38mb)
National Invasive Species Strategy
Palau (2004; 1.37mb)
Invasives reports: Palau (2003; 1.85mb),
see also Invasive alien species in the Austral-Pacific region: national reports and directory of resources [GISP] (2002; 3.75mb)
see also Invasives Species on Pacific Islands [reports] - HEAR / PIER project website
Action for Palau’s future: 2009-2014 - The medium term development strategy(*explanatory budget)
Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change [PACC] - reports, activities and PACC news updates
Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change [PACC] - report of in-country consultations
Palau (2009; 268kb)
Impact Reports: Palau (2001; 2.49mb)
Regional overview report (2004; 2.59mb)
Peristant Organic Pollutants (POPs): Country Plans
Palau (2003; 471kb)
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention, 1989), the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (Rotterdam Convention, 1998) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (Stockholm Convention, 2001) together provide an international framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals throughout their life cycles.
Ships' Waste Management in Pacific Islands Ports: Country reports
see also Environmental overview and stock-take report (2007; 3.24mb)
see also State of the Environment of the South Pacific 1983 (UNEP: 1983; 1.66mb)
see also State of the marine environment in the South Pacific Region (1990; 3.48mb)
see also State of the Environment of the South Pacific 2005 (2005; 382kb; see also ~http://www.unescap.org/esd/environment/soe/2005/mainpub/ ~)
see also Regional perspectives: Asia and the Pacific (UNEP, GEO-4. 2007; 382 kb)
see also the archive of SPREP Country Reports between 1980-1983 as follows:
Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (1980; 3.42mb)
United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)
National Reports: Palau (? ;39kb) , Palau Thematic report on protected areas (?; 1.78mb)
see also Country profiles compiled by the Secretariat for the UNCBD.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was one of the outcome instruments of the UNCED process, highlights the need for conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (Land Degradation) (UNCCD)
First National Report: Palau (2000; 14kb)
Second National Report: Palau (2002; 195kb)
National Action Programmes (NAP) to combat land degradation
Palau (2004; 212kb)
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is an agreement to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.
World Summit on Sustainable Development [Rio+10 - Johannesburg 2002]
National Assessment Reports:
Palau (2002; 421kb)
The WSSD Plan of Implementation calls for the management of the natural resources base in a sustainable and integrated manner. In this regard, to reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation as soon as possible, it is necessary to implement strategies which should include targets adopted at the national and, where appropriate, regional levels to protect ecosystems and to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, while strengthening regional, national and local capacities.
The Johannesburg Declaration and the Plan of Implementation arising from the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002) reconfirmed the commitment of States to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development-economic development, social development and environmental protection-at the local, national, regional and global levels.
see also National DocumentsPalau Conservation Society 2008-2009 Annual Report
Reports available online from the SPREP Library and IRC database
Reports available online from SOPAC [Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission]
Reports available online from ReefBase Pacific
search also Reefbase Pacific online documents
Multimedia - posters, videos etc
- visit to a marine lake in Palau. This is part of an educational series for kids of all ages.
- Beautiful images of jellyfish lake set to music.
- Green mounds only a few metres apart rise out of the glassy, blue sea. Under the water, fluorescent fish dart through strands of orange corral. The island of Palau is a paradise on earth. It has been voted number one wonder of the underwater world. But all this beauty faces the threat of rampant tourism. Since independence in 1994, the people of Palau are seeking to rePlace US funding with revenue from an ever expanding tourist trade. Although, such economic growth will generate jobs, there is great concern for the environment. Palau's second industry, fishing, is also making an impact. As giant tunas are lifted by cranes from the fishing boats, conservationist Noah Idechong is acting to safeguard fishing stock. He has persuaded local chiefs to reinstate the "bul", an ancient law which bans fishing in major breeding grounds. In revitalising traditional customs, he has the support of Palau's vice president, Tommy Remengesau. There is hope that this young nation will mature with its environment and its cultural identity in tact. Informative.
- This is the first video on mangroves in Palau and is a valuable means of conveying information to people about the value of mangrove forests and the need for sustainable use and management in the future.
Palau International Coral Reef Centre
The PICRC conducts research that enhances knowledge and conservation of coral reef ecosystem and their associated marine environments, to educate the public about the ecological, economic, and cultural importance of coral reefs, and to provide a visitor's attraction where both residents and visitors can expand their knowledge of Palau's diverse and unique ecosystems. Website currently under construction.
SPREP Library and IRC collection [SLIC] - includes online full text access to a wide range of Pacific environment materials.
The Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Virtual Library - full text publications from SPREP, SOPAC, SPC and other CROP agencies, Pacific govt. environment depts. , regional institutions, and NGOs active in the area of environment conservation.
SPREP's International Instruments' webpage
"International instruments relevant to SPREP's work in the areas of Sustainable Economic Development, Ecosystems Management, Climate Change, and Waste Management."
Academic literature and research