Interior official promotes traditional community-led conservation initiatives | News


WASHINGTON (Department of the Interior) — U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Assistant Secretary Keone Nakoa recently concluded a trip to the Republic of Palau where he participated in the seventh Our Ocean Conference, held April 13-14, 2022 .

Themed “Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity,” the conference featured numerous panels where Nakoa hosted the Marine Protected Areas panel, emphasizing the importance of collaborating with traditional and community leaders for long-term success. and intergenerational natural resources and conservation of the oceans globally as well as in island areas.

In Palau, Deputy Assistant Secretary Nakoa joined Supreme Grand Chief Reklai Bao Ngirmang, Palau Finance Minister Kaleb Udui, Melekeok State Governor Henaro Polloi and other dignitaries in a protocol meeting. agreement or MOU signing ceremony at Ngardok Nature Reserve, officially launching a partnership between the National Park Service and the National Government of Palau, in partnership with the state government and the people of Melekeok for sustainable visitor use and tourism management of Palau’s protected areas.

“Marine and terrestrial protected areas are important management tools for conserving biodiversity, maintaining healthy fisheries, safeguarding ocean ecosystems, protecting natural and cultural heritage and addressing the climate crisis. To have longevity and success in practice, the support and commitment of the people who themselves hold the cultural and traditional knowledge of a community must be at the fore,” said Deputy Undersecretary Nakoa.

“This Memorandum of Understanding between the National Park Service and Palau is a shining example of inclusive collaboration to promote the sharing of traditional and modern knowledge in management and planning for the future preservation of Palau’s sustainable practices and to protect its pristine environment. “, said Nakoa.

“What an incredible days this conference has been for the United States and Palau as co-hosts of the 7th Our Ocean Conference in Palau, where so many nations, islands and communities have come together to ensure a healthy ocean. and to ensure we build collective resilience against climate change for the future,” said U.S. Ambassador John Hennessey-Niland. “The health of our ocean and the resilience of all the people who depend on it is also critical. of a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the important relationship we have with Palau for our common future. ”

“Twenty-five years ago, the people of Melekeok set aside the Ngardok Reserve as a protected area for our community and the prosperity of our people,” Paramount Grand Chief Reklai said. “We aspire to build on the strengths of our traditions and culture through this important collaboration with the National Park Service, to ensure the resilience and strength of our natural resources for our people in the future.”

“Here in Palau, you can easily see the interconnectedness between the ocean, our land and our people. States of the 7th Our Ocean Conference here in Palau,” said Minister Udui.

“We were particularly pleased to sign a partnership agreement with the National Park Service for tourism and sustainable visitor use planning and we are encouraged that the funding mechanisms we have put in place can be used model for future collaboration.”

Culturally and traditionally important to the people of Melekeok, the Ngardok Nature Reserve or NNR is home to Micronesia’s largest freshwater body and many native plant and animal species. The NNR is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Network of First Forest Observatories and is recognized as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The traditional leaders and community of Melekeok aspire for the NNR to serve as a model of excellence in the research and preservation of other terrestrial and marine sites within Palau’s protected area network and for the region.

To learn more about the Our Ocean conference, visit their website at:


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