Responses dealing directly with the palau road construction

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Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on ‘Development at any cost?’ by Scott Radway, (with user name SIV and password GLOBAL)

posted on 9th October 2002.
From Donna Bartram, Turks and Caicos Islands
The question of moving from the spear to the computer is a difficult one. There should be some way to provide for the entrance of our youth to the technological age. We are able to do it here on this small island nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the passage to the Caribbean Sea. As long as development takes itself in small planned increments, you should be able to handle it. Small increments of implementation of a grand scale allow time for the impact to be felt. Look at the grand scheme of things, but move cautiously testing the impact of various changes. Review history. There once was a great ‘dust bowl’ in the United States. It was reversible. Better to prevent, however. Look backwards, before you look forward in order to follow the old adage, ‘prevention is worth a pound of cure’. Investors have to be required to look at the impact of their proposals on the surrounding areas. Cost has to be figured in at the outset. Outweigh one from the other and you end up spearing fish and NOT going on-line. Who wants to do one without the other? There has to be a balance between ecology and development. YOUTH needs development. AGE needs ecology. This may be a backwards way to look at it, but it is factual. Ones children need to be part of the 21st century and because of technology the child of an islander can be as technologically advanced as (for example) a child from Manhattan, USA. Thankfully culture is still more sacred and each will be his own individual as influenced by one’s family, surroundings and influences. Do not break the back of development which fosters the youth of a nation, but do designate certain areas of roadway which will require special treatment to preserve whatever lies below. My appreciation for the opportunity to respond.

From Austin Bowden-Kerby, Fiji

Regarding the recent article about Palau, I lived in Palau from 1982-84.  It is a beautiful and very special place.  Babeldaob is not only the largest island in Palau, it is the largest island in the entire Caroline Islands, and the largest volcanic landmass in Micronesia.  It has the best developed stream systems, and a high level of endemism among the plant and animal life.  There are giant forest spiders that catch birds in their webs, gnat-sized honeybees, carnivorous plants in grassy meadows and orchids hanging from rainforest trees.  An ancient civilization with many more people in the past dominated the landscape, and abandoned terraced villages and stone paved roads and agricultural sites are common on the rolling hills and valleys.  The coral reefs of Palau are the most diverse on the planet.  The Rock Islands south of Babeldaob are an extensive labyrinth of forest-covered and lush limestone ridges and cliffs, sharply rising from glass-like seas, and made of geologically upraised coral reefs.  These enchanting islands have evolved their own set of endemic plants and animals... it is an entirely new world for exploring, something very, very special.

Palau must have some sort of healthy economic development, and paving and upgrading the existing roads would actually help prevent erosion, rather than cause it...  what the real danger is that it opens up the unspoiled sections of the island to unlimited development.  A system of nature reserves must be firmly in place.  Using the same amount of money to build and maintain a boat or ferry system, or maybe even better a small gauge railroad, like what was in place during the Japanese administration, might be a better and more sustainable alternative.  

A master plan is needed that takes into account sustainable levels of development, and Mother Nature should be the target of sustainable tourism. 

From Robert Henin, Vanuatu
I am sorry, but I am a French person and my English is very bad, but I will try to explain what I think. I am also on a small island in Vanuatu. The problem is always the same: if we don't have development, people don't have any thing to eat in the coming years, while if we have development, people will have to change their daily lives, this is sure.
I am sure that it is impossible to go back. The system is such that only 1% of the world’s population wants to stay as before. Nowadays, money is law and every person dreams to become rich very quickly. Only 0,5% of the world’s population will see this dream becomes reality. For the rest, life will become harder and harder, always running to making money, and always more and more difficult.
My friend, I am like you, for 20 years I tried to change the world, but it is also a dream... Nobody in this planet has the solution. Every government tries to find

solutions, but things become worse every day. It is too late to change our stupidity, always searching for something that we never find. The world is at the beginning of the end... When I look 30 years back, I just want to cry...What will be the future for our children...I don't know exactly, but it is certain that their lives will be completely different to ours. They will live in virtual world, but very far from nature, and I don't think that it is a good thing.

Scott, I am like you, very worried by all this, but I can't find solutions. Whether you want it or not, this road will be built and you will have to adapt yourself to this new life. My suggestion it to prepare yourself for the big changes and accept them, it will be less difficult for you. If you become aggressive, everybody will reject your arguments and think that you are completely stupid. The reality is that you are not stupid, only realistic and sickened by the future that the world is building now.
From Theo Isamu, Palau

Regarding the comments made by the fishermen and a Delegate from Palau, I can say that they are part of the problem. The main case scenario is that all Palauans are fishermen, or from a gender perspective, fisherfolks. The use of resources have changed dramatically over the years, with new technology for the direct take of resources, mechanized vessels, introduction of freezers, coolers, and refrigerators. Everyone fishes for money, and the fish that are not sold are stored in the freezers and refrigerators for weekly and monthly family supply. Palau is experiencing an influx of visitors, 70,000 annually who share the same resources with the locals. 20,000 pounds of marine resources are exported every fortnight. The El Niño phenomenon in 1997/98 and Typhoon Mike in 1991 damaged more corals than any human's direct or indirect impact in Palau. I do agree that we all must act now, and come up with strategies for proper planning, immediate and long-term capacity building to limit importation of labourers, and promulgation of laws for the environment. We need to revisit the Palau Visitors Authority’s strategies in the context of our resources to manage the environment and enforce the laws, the optimum number of hotel rooms and golf courses that Palau can accommodate etc.

From: Roxanne Naylor, Vanuatu
Your Minister of Trade recognized the problem years ago. Enjoy the saku and stop ripping off genuine foreign investors and the island will be fine. Also stop the TV that shows the youth how to get their dreams from shock and horror. There is a price for everything - it is called work.
From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
Sounds like they need to read up on sustainable development and study the Virtues Guide Handbook by Linda and Dan Popov!  I have spent 31 years in Vanuatu, none of the problems are technical. It’s all spiritual, if we address that then the rest will follow. We run social economic development projects that have a sound spiritual base, such as coconut oil as a diesel fuel replacement, water tank management projects and primary schools etc. They succeed because the foundation is strong! Development should be at NO cost, just ‘Hard Work!!’

From the Editor, Diario Belau, Palau

Thanks so much for sending us this article and feel free to send more in the future....we'll publish it in our paper and do inform us where we can send you a copy. 

From Bruce Gray, Cook Islands

This seems to be a constant theme everywhere in the world these days.  That is why it is important for all countries, but especially small island states, to plan ahead and establish, in full consultation with the wishes of the people in the local communities involved, a development master plan. Everyone must work together to find a realistic working balance between desired and needed development and preserving and protecting the traditional culture and the natural environment.

Development must not appear to benefit just a few.  Nor must we oppose all development, time marches forward but we can dictate its route and pace. Those countries and their people which are successful in balancing economic, environmental and social sustainability will progress ahead.  Those that fail this test will soon slide down the slippery slope to economic, environmental and social stagnation, or worse yet, ruin.

Good governance, accountability and transparency are essential at all levels of society.

From Ludgero, Cape Verde Islands
I was born in and still live in a small island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of the Cape Verde Islands. We have so many problems, that we would like to talk about them with others who have identical problems. The problem is the language, we speak Portuguese and so is not easy to communicate in English. But we try our best.
From James R. Mancham, Seychelles

Thank you for your e-mail with reference to your article "Development at any cost."

 Please note what I wrote in my book - War on America - Seen from the Indian Ocean ( on small island nations. If you wish to reproduce this in Small Island Voice - please advise. Meanwhile we will reproduce the article by Scott Radway as adopted from the Pacific Daily News of 25th March 2002 - in the next issue of the Seychelles Review.


From Razack Nayamuth, Mauritius

I live in a small tropical island, Mauritius, with 1.2 million people and one of the highest population densities in the world. I fully concur with your views that

development should be done in harmony with the environment and also bearing in

mind the social fabric and culture of the country. We are almost a developed country and there are a lot of things that have been done the wrong way. However, today we cannot revert back to previous situations. Our lagoon is as poor as yours due to over-fishing, mostly non-sustainable coastal development, and industrialization that has polluted the lagoon and destroyed the ecosystems. I urge you to fight against this type of development if you can. A very good example is the Seychelles where the environment is of prime importance and development projects are implemented in harmony with nature.
From James Paw
This is just a personal view: small island nations should economically prosper and be seen to contribute to global economy. However, the current economic paradigm is biased towards geographically large and developed countries. I think that small island nations should have a special economic paradigm that is distinct such that it provides for their sustainable development. Such a paradigm can be thought of as weighted against existing and potential resources, capacity and externalities. I think that the UN should initiate this process and develop it into a convention or international protocol.
From a Respondent in Nevis
Small islands need to protect their culture and ecology from over-exploitation. We have had similar problems on Nevis, and fight them constantly. Large organizations can come in and dictate policy, disrupt lives and destroy the natural beauty for their own purpose. Nevis allowed an offshore stone ‘reef’ to be built to protect one hotel which refused to do an EIA. It has disrupted the whole shoreline, fishing patterns and caused silting of reefs, it also doesn't work as they thought! The hotel may not survive, yet no provision was made to remove the artificial ‘reef’ or repair the damage. These things should not be allowed to happen.

From Philip Siaguru, Papua New Guinea

I am just as concerned as any other environmentalist about the developments occurring in and around the Pacific. The situation in Palau and the new road is an example. I would like to be kept in the forum on issues affecting small island nations in the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean. 

From Jacky Silvers, British Virgin Islands
I grew up in Miami and the Florida Keys, in the 1940s. I lived there for more than half a century, and tried to stop the developers who pledged ‘conscientious’ development. I watched in horror the rape of the land, the degradation of the once pristine waters, the loss of fish stocks, the disappearance of precious animals that once flew the air and roamed the pinelands. South Floridians gained NOTHING. The developers laughed all the way to their banks. If you cherish your island with all its blessings, stop development before it begins.
From Richard Szyjan, Bequia

Yes, I live in a small island in the Grenadines with 5,000 people, it is called Bequia. The place is known for its pristine waters, and we of course have lots of interest from other countries. Europe donated an airport for tourists. Once the airport was built the government decided to control the airline company, so we probably have 6 visitors landing everyday, conservatively speaking, which is not a bad policy when you only have a little piece of rock. 125 million dollars for a road seems a lot, but your island is probably much bigger than ours. Your people decided that they need to open up to the world because they must have access to cable TV and they need a road to drive that new car they are going to buy from Japan. There is nothing you can do about it! Nobody wants to live from fishing in the beautiful lagoon anymore and it is sad, but how can you tell the population what will happen? They want to experience for themselves how it is to be making money!! Maybe education could help but you have already lost this generation and have to work on the next one!! Then there is the issue of corruption, you know what I mean, you give me a license to build a hotel and you get a house, or the mayor is perhaps a shareholder in the concrete factory. What can I say except keep up the good work and let the people know, have meetings, post signs, educate the population. Good luck.

Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on ‘Balancing development and environment’

by Donna Bartram, Robert Heinin, Rasack Nayamuth, Jacky Silvers (with user name SIV and password GLOBAL)

posted on 29th October 2002
From Sina Lui
This is a very interesting topic and one that I am all too familiar with, especially when we live in small isolated island nations. I think that no matter how much we discuss the issue about the road, it will still be built. Change is inevitable, just as development is unavoidable. What needs to be done is to try and prevent as much damage to the environment as possible as raised by Donna Bartram from the Caribbean, and to minimise the impact of the road on the environment. Public awareness is perhaps a key factor, perhaps if the public is aware of the long term effects that have been experienced elsewhere in the world then it may help with the issue.
From Nicolas J. Pilcher, Palau
Far from being a problem of only the road, the problem is far, far more rooted in current attitudes and behaviour than a simple road project. While the road might be contributing its fair share of woes, I bet the gentleman in question never went fishing and had to contend with thousands upon thousands of beer cans underwater, or discarded tyres, or outboard engines, or the like. Likewise he probably never went to a market where dozens of slaughtered turtles awaited purchase or worried about discarded long-lines and nets, high coliform bacteria counts in a port because of lack of sanitation facilities, shall I go on? Before we start using a project which is intended to BETTER the lives of people in Palau as a punching bag, (which admittedly could have a far better environmental track record) let's start with people themselves, and focus on the overwhelming lack of care for the environment as the real cause of all these problems.
From Lillith Richards, Nevis
The situation in Palau is unfortunate, for each small island is blessed very little natural resources; this is why we are so special. However, I do believe that we should be very careful with our diagnosis of this problem and many others like it. I do not believe that the road is the problem in Palau; but rather the non-enforcement of regulatory instruments or even the absence of precautionary and protective regulations that would guide the development of roads and other elements of the built environment.
The truth is that Palau is not alone in this respect. Small islands appear to have an aversion to regulatory measures, we do not appreciate any form of constraint. But I think too that if we are going to preserve our islands and in so doing ourselves, we must accept the fact that laws are a positive force on our society.
A road can be a treasure as well as a nightmare. If a country is prepared with the necessary mitigative and precautionary measures, a road need not be a nightmare. From my few (five) years of working in the Public Service, I have seen that when a country discusses its project with a wide range of professionals and when the department of planning/environment is willing to stand guard over development activities, the implementation of projects is more successful.
I think it is difficult to offer any worthwhile advice from our experience on Nevis (St. Kitts & Nevis) as we do not have all the information on this project. However, the public service in Palau should be able to provide guidance so as to prevent contamination of coastal waters and the erosion of land. To ensure that this is done the people of that county should seek the intervention of their political directorates. Many people avoid political personnel, but they play a very important role in all societies, in fact they are at their best when called by the people. This is a time when they should be called, not by the NGOs or the United Nations but by the people of Palau.
From Herman Belmar, Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Large scale developments in small islands: Like many of the respondents, I have my concerns about undertaking large-scale development projects that may be beyond the ability of the people or the land to cope. Development, however, must come, and should come, so long as it is properly phased, and measures are put in place to cope with some, if not all of the negative effects. The necessary infrastructure, physical as well as human resources must be prepared to deal with the changes. Environmental issues will be my major issue as far as the road development program of Palau is concerned.

On my seven square mile island of Bequia, an airport was constructed in 1992. It involved reclaiming several acres of our coastline, as the entire airport is built on what was once a beautiful coral reef. I was very concerned that we would loose valuable fishing and recreational areas. The environmental impact assessment showed that the coral was mostly dead. My worry, however, was the sedimentation of the remaining area that would destroy what was left of the coral reef. This was taken into consideration by the companies that were contracted. The Dutch company that built the retaining dams before they were filled with sand, dredged from the seabed outside the reef, and ensured that the stone dam walls were lined with a layer of fabric material that allowed filtration. None of the sediments that were pumped into the dams as the lakes were filled, returned to the sea, thus reducing the sedimentation considerably. Although no scientific studies were conducted, the fish caught in the area afterwards, and the colour of the water, were indicators that the impact on the surrounding area was not too adverse.

The barriers formed by the stones on the outside of the runway, are now proving to be a very valuable nursery for fish, whelks, crabs and other marine creatures. This somehow does not replace the small lagoon, but compensates for the loss of habitat, even though it is different. On the landward side, however, we are left with a huge crater, where the stones were removed, and drainage in the area is not quite the same, which is in fact creating a problem with mosquitoes during the rainy season. This problem we will have to address some time soon.

I am of the opinion, that any development if not carefully studied in every detail, will leave some negatives. I would like to talk a bit more about some corrective measures that students of my school have undertaken in order to solve some real problems of harvesting surface stones for a quarry, and the impact on the marine environment, but will leave that for a later article. We all can preserve our little piece of Mother Earth, if we act on time.

From Helena Calado, Portugal
My comments are more questions ... Is there any island from the North Atlantic in the small islands forum? What the criteria is used to define a small island, the Man and the Biosphere UNESCO one? To participate on this discussion group should I send some of our work?
From Calbert Douglas, U.K.
Shortcomings in the notion of sustainable development: Surprisingly, island state and territories carry out these projects in the name of sustainable development. So there is ‘development’ in the narrower sense of the meaning, but not sustainability in terms of the wider environmental effects and social ‘health’ impacts.
From Malcolm Guishard, Nevis
I am very interested in the comments outlined in this article. My name is Malcolm Guishard and I am the Minister responsible for Tourism, Culture and Information on Nevis. Nevis is a small island state with a bright future, our island has undergone an economic and physical transformation over the past ten years. The government has plans for additional infrastructural development which we believe would in no way harm the ecological, social or environmental balance of the island. Your e-mail, which I had the good fortune of reading, made reference to an earlier article. I would be grateful if this article could be e-mailed to me.
From Susanna Henighan, British Virgin Islands
I write from the BVI StandPoint newspaper, a weekly paper in the British Virgin Islands. I am not sure why, but earlier this month we started receiving your e-mails regarding Small Islands Voice. I went to the website, and was impressed with the idea, since we on small islands often feel like no one understands our problems. I would like to know whether you would allow us to run your e-mail newsletters from time to time, so we could share with our readers what other islanders are thinking about. We would not really be able to pay for it, but I think it would give your project a lot of exposure, and would, I hope, encourage some people from here to get involved. Of course, we would include information about the project and where people can learn more or take part.
From Anita James, St. Lucia

Helping each other: How can small islands help each other in a tangible way to implement sustainable development paradigms? The Euro Caribbean Energy Forum is a step in that direction. It was launched in St. Lucia in May 2002 and seeks to help islands develop renewable energy technologies. Islands in Europe with expertise in the area will share their developments and successes with islands of the Caribbean. To read more about that venture check out the website

The development of the Biodiversity Strategy and action plans in the region was another such effort. Experienced individuals from countries like St. Lucia which were more advanced than others visited countries which needed help to push the process forward.

Adaptation to climate change impacts is another way that St. Lucia has benefited from island to island interaction. Through the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change Project, pilot projects were set up in various islands and the lessons learned from them were shared with the other islands involved. St. Lucia was also able to help other islands develop their climate change strategy and policy as St. Lucia's was used as a model. Other countries like Antigua helped St. Lucia develop and produce its initial national communications on global climate change. The islands of the Caribbean are collaborating on the development of a Regional Climate Change Centre. Assistance in adapting to climate change impacts has also been offered and provided by the small islands in the Pacific especially with regards to vulnerability and adaptation studies. Check out for more on climate change and islands.

In developing its national water policy, St. Lucia has sought and continues to seek help from Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Barbados which have already gone that route. St. Lucia's experience in social marketing to save endangered species using a mascot has been shared and implemented with many other islands over the world through the RARE Centre for Tropical Conservation. Check out for more. No doubt the SIDSNETwork is also a step in that direction. Check out, I am sure that there is much more that can be and has been done collaboratively. Any one want to share their knowledge and ideas with the rest of us to help us all push our sustainable development agenda forward?

From Hendrik Kettner, Vanuatu
Balancing development and environment......certainly so much more important on small islands than in large continental countries. And yet, if you want the environment to stay as it is (or has been), don't cry for money (or more money). Money comes with development... (quoted freely from Howard Aru, CEO, Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority).
The ‘so-called’ developed countries have not always been as they are now. The ecology has been changed there forever since hundreds of years ago, forests cut down, swamps dried, rivers straightened, etc. But today people do not remember such drastic changes brought about in central European Countries, for example.
Today, people are much more aware about development and related changes in the ecology. And yet, mistakes happen, or is it carelessness?
Today people in small island countries get to see how the world outside the islands looks and they want to develop too. To achieve that, sacrifices will have to be made. Hopefully, not too many mistakes will happen. Sounds cruel? That is reality, isn't it?
From Sheri Mann, American Samoa
The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) have been training and inventorying the forests of American Samoa and Guam during the past two years. The next inventory will take place in Palau in February 2003. This type of inventory has been taking place in the US and Caribbean for some time now. With the help of FIA and NGO's in the US and Caribbean, incredible strides have been made in understanding natural resources.
These inventories are the most thorough and comprehensive that has ever been done in the Pacific US affiliated islands. All vegetation existing in a >10% forested area that falls within the randomly selected plots will be recorded. Eventually, various geographical information system layers and maps will be created from this data. Not only will this information provide forest cover, vegetation distribution and abundance, but also a very in depth look at how forest cover has changed/is changing over time. These plots will be permanent, therefore monitoring will be available for many years. This information will also be extremely useful for small island governments to predict trends in natural resource use and economic growth in general.
It is especially important to conduct this inventory now so there is a comprehensive

database which road builders in Palau may have to consider and/or be quantifiably measured by when this road is built. All too often, many sorry's are provided with hast, but only after the unchangeable destruction is complete.

I hope Small Islands Voice subscribers will be interested in this new level of inventory in Palau and elsewhere in the Pacific. I hope this information is included and used to make the important developmental decisions that will inevitably affect all aspects of life in the Pacific Islands?
From Dennis Pantin, Trinidad and Tobago
I would be interested to have further details on the Seychelles case as cited by

Rasack Nayamuth.

From Rod, Vanuatu

I've lived in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu for the last 23 years and have come to the conclusion that the school system needs to be adapted to suit the future aims of the local governments.  The governments generally don't want too much development and want to retain the culture of their nations, which is fair enough.  BUT at the same time they want modern schooling for the youths and children who can't find jobs when they leave school because there has not been enough development and foreign investment to create the needed jobs.

Look at Papua New Guinea.  Who are causing all the problems there?  Unemployed youths! The population is booming because of better health systems (mostly donated by foreign countries) so schools cannot keep up with the ever increasing demand. Businesses on the other hand are growing very slowly for various reasons which include government policy on foreign ownership and staffing.

Educate the children for integration back into village life or change attitudes to development and foreign investment.

Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on ‘Controlling development’

by H. Belmar, T. Isamu, J. Johnson, N. Pilcher, L. Richards, Rod, R. Szyjan (with user name SIV and password GLOBAL)

posted on 31st October 2002
From Santy Asanuma


I am a mackerel salesman and I can tell you by just looking at the ocean when flying into Palau after rainfall. It does not require a college degree to see that the road is a major contributor to the current polluting and degradation of our marine environment. It is a shame when people in positions of authority turn a blind eye on a problem like this because regular people will likely not rise to meet the challenge.


Thanks for sending me this article. I will give my rebuttal in my future articles to this absurd notion that the road construction is pollution free. Mind you, I am not arguing the need of the road. How it is done is a problem. Remember, money is to be made by those who are constructing this road. This is not a goodwill mission and certainly does not deserve goodwill protection from the Palauan government and people.


From Carol O. Emaurois, Palau
Development at all levels in a small island causes constant worries and concerns to the island’s people. This is largely due to the fact that the legal framework is not in place to deal with issues arising from large projects.  We simply do not have enough experienced manpower to oversee the Compact Road Project.  On an outreach to Ngchesar State, we heard a lot of worries about the direct effect the road is having on their coastal waters.  The seagrass beds where they fish their favourite fish – rabbitfish - are full of suspended sediments and they cannot see the fish or the fish cannot live within the area anymore.  The Ngchesar people feel a sense of hopelessness.  They are asking serious questions - Should we just wait until the road is completed?  What would happen to our fishing grounds when the road is finally completed?  Would their coastal waters be able to bounce back after the road project is completed?  Who should be responsible for the damage brought on by the road construction to the resources that they have depended on throughout so many generations?  They do not want canned sardines or tuna to replace their fresh fish.

What would the road bring about for Palau in return for a pristine environment that may not be there in the future? Is it worth all the marine resources that people of Palau may likely lose?   What should we give up now to save the future?  What is it that we are looking for?  I believe Palauan people are very rich, not in terms of money, but in terms of the wealth of our marine resources.   We dream of keeping them in the same conditions for our children.  

But I feel threatened by people with money ... who assume they have every right to go anywhere they wish for their development.  When they come to Palau they come with their values - making money without any considerations for the local culture, social structure, or the islands’ precious resources.  They buy their way into our soil, erode our culture, our basic resources which we depend on, and when the coastal resources have been exploited and have little value or beauty, they move on to the next pristine area. 
Are all the people in the world who care about this earth going to stand by and let the rich and famous degrade this earth for their pleasures?  We should do something of global scope.  We should no longer feel comfortable just to share our concerns and worries but we must globally do something!!!!
From PICCAP, Tuvalu
I received your e-mail re the new road for Palau, where you invite views from small islands. This is my own personal view on the issue. A new road to boost economic benefit for Palau is one good reason for building a new road. If this is the priority reason why the new road is constructed, given that this is what the indigenous people of Palau want for their own good, provided also that they can afford to maintain it in the long term, then I see no good reason to stop the construction of the new road. My own analysis is that the economic benefits of any new development (provided it is among the priority needs of the country) are of utmost important to any developing country given also that the environment impact assessments are done in parallel to control the negative impacts of the project. Us as outsiders can only make suggestions, but it is up to the local people to make decisions for themselves.
From Nicholas Pilcher, Palau
I'd like to clarify that I am writing from Palau about Palau. I live here, and I know the problems. Theo Isamu's comments are on the mark, and people need to realise they cannot just go around blaming large construction projects for their pervasive lack of interest in the environment, just in the hopes of settling some big lawsuit so they can continue to dump beer cans and sit around and bemoan the situation.
From Brenda Tarimel, Palau

I thought this might come in handy for next week's public hearing on the two issues -SJR No. 6-16 and SB No. 6-187 although not exactly but talks about development and changes that will inevitably affect Palau's future.

From Herman Belmar, Bequia
I do subscribe to the old saying ‘When life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade.’ A few years ago, students from my school, the Bequia Anglican High School, undertook a study of discarded bottles on our small seven square mile island, and found out that there are over two million discarded bottles becoming residents on our island annually. A great deal of these end up in drains, and find their way to our beaches during heavy rains. Like Nicholas Pilcher, we became concerned, and experimented with crushing the discarded bottles, to produce sand for the building construction industry. This whole project turned out to be a plus for our students, for they entered the UNESCO Caribbean Sea Project, Science and Technology contest, and became the regional winners, with their study of the use of broken and discarded glass bottles on the island of Bequia. One of their greatest achievements was the manufacture of decorative tiles using only broken glass and white cement, with fabric reinforcement from discarded feed sacks.
Our students did not stop there, for they are presently contributing to their environment in a more positive manner. Broken glass continued to flow through the drains, and pollute our beaches and water. Our students are now collecting all the discarded glass that can be found in their school environment, and on or around the public playing field, which adjoins their school. They also bring to school, bags of bottles from their homes. These bottles and broken glass, are then broken into smaller pieces, and mixed with cement, and cast into moulds to form park benches. Some of these benches are already erected overlooking the playing field, so soccer fans can enjoy a comfortable seat on what was once their discarded beer or rum bottles.

The area is cleaner and happier as a result. Far less glass is presently reaching the marine environment, so it becomes a win-win situation. Let us look for ways to turn our lemons to lemonade.

From Bob Conrich, Anguilla
Regarding the item on the hotel in Nevis: when we report on the destruction they cause, we protect them by not mentioning their names. Perhaps the most effective weapon we have is making these situations the focus of world opinion, but our failure to make use of this great power provides aid and comfort to the destroyers.
From Elaine, St. Kitts
I live in St Kitts and am alarmed at the number of development proposals in the islands that include golf courses.  The fertilizer requirements to keep the 'greens' green are huge.  Have studies been conducted to determine whether nitrate run-off might be connected to algae blooms?

From H. Garland
Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA has the same problem as all other islands (we are linked only by two bridges to the mainland!). The runoff from chemicals on land, the spraying of wetlands and dumping of toxic substances has not been monitored, much less controlled!  There is a perpetual claim of ‘lack of scientific proof’ that this destroys fish stocks in one way or another.  But we must all realize that it took only one company, dumping one chemical to destroy the age-old fisheries of the vast Hudson River - all four hundred miles! We need global as well as local standards!
From John Guilbert, Nevis
I am very concerned about the loss of our wetlands to economic development.  How can those who are in control of the building codes allow such a thing to happen?  Do they really understand how important wetlands are to the well being (balance) of the island?  I don't think so, and it is really a shame.  The evolution of our island does not look good.  It is still the same old story - environment vs. economy.
From Robert Iroga, Solomon Islands
I support the building of the bridge in Palau. Though it will come at a cost to the environment it's a development for an island like us. We know bridges are built over rivers or seas. In this case it must be a river or lake. The environmental consequences will be huge maybe in the initial stage of the project. But as long as the project is completed it will serve the people with little or no environmental impacts at all. What the Palau government should do is to advise the engineers of the project to exercise safe practices for the environment when building the bridge.
From a respondent in the Caribbean
Herman Belmar and Richard Szyjan should be aware a little bit more about Bequia’s airport. Its construction caused a scandal within the European Union, once it was realised it was far more economic to catch a ferry for 45 minutes to the mainland at a cost of 10 Euros.
The big hole formed by excavating fill for the runway is likely to be filled with garbage. Garbage disposal on small islands can be a problem and this particular hole has an estimated life for garbage disposal of at least 100 years.
From a respondent in the Caribbean
It may be a good idea to not use names as this can cause problems in some small islands.
Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on ‘Further views on the Palau road’

By S. Asanuma, B. Conrich, C. Emaurois, R. Iroga and a writer from Tuvalu (with username SIV and password GLOBAL) posted on 14th November 2002
From Sandra S. Pierantozzi, Palau
Just wish to add my two cents worth. Yes, we are very concerned about the environmental degradation from the Compact Road. However, let us not close our eyes to the very fact that some of the worst environmental degraders are Palauans themselves!! I just returned today from the inauguration at Ngarchelong. On the way, I can see damages to the environment such as the rock quarries and coral dredging. Some of these activities are not directly related to the road project, and they are also being conducted by our own local people. Sometimes it is so easy to point fingers at others, but if the people of Palau do not wish to have their land destroyed, they should be the first to protect it, not exploit it.
From Tex Albert, Seychelles 
Human Development Report 2002, Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World

Launched July 24th

‘Politics matter for human development. Reducing poverty depends as much on whether poor people have political power as on their opportunities for economic progress. Democracy has proven to be the system of governance most capable of mediating and preventing conflict and of securing and sustaining well-being. By expanding people's choices about how and by whom they are governed, democracy brings principles of participation and accountability to the process of human development.’
From Tara Qicatubua
Greetings from the Pacific Water Association Secretariat. Thanks for including us in your mailing list for happenings around the island. Currently, we are putting out a weekly newsletter to all our members around the region and we may do a referral to your website just to inform them of your organization. Please advise if this will be alright with you.

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