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If you were asked to locate the island nation of Palau on a map, it wouldn’t be easy. The archipelago—while comprised of hundreds of tiny islands—looks no larger than a pinprick in the middle of the Western Pacific, its closest neighbor 800 miles away.
And yet this small but mighty island is making international waves. With the launch of their Palau Pledge, the country has become the first in the world to require tourists to sign a pledge of environmental responsibility upon arriving on the island.
The pledge, stamped and signed within your passport, is dual purpose—intended to both encourage preservation of the islands and boost awareness for the country (the 13th smallest in the world with fewer than 20,000 residents). So far, it’s working: The campaign behind the Palau Pledge, which includes a video visitors must watch before arriving on the island, just won big at the Cannes Lions, the most prestigious award festival for creative and marketing communications in the world.
For a small country to be recognized at a global level (even beating out an Apple campaign) is a feat in itself, but we’re especially thrilled for the campaign’s mission. The pledge, which in part reads “I vow to tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully … the only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away,” is a great reminder for the 160,000 visitors the country receives annually. And, as a Cannes Lions representative pointed out, it’s an idea that’s potentially world-changing, with the ability to be adopted easily around the globe.
We already had a serious vacation crush on Palau—dubbed “the underwater Serengeti” for good reason. This makes us want to visit all the more.
(And P.S.: Even if you don’t go right away, you can still join 90,000-plus others and take the pledge online—and perhaps get inspired to adopt the pledge wherever you may live or vacation.)