Learning from the past to impact the future series: Palau

The story of resiliency for communities in Palau requires looking back in time to examine and learn from the impact of previous climate change adaptation work to inform future planning. Palau is one of four countries that cooperated with the field testing of an impacts analysis methodology as part of the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus – Scaling Up Pacific Adaptation (GCCA+ SUPA) project.

Like many island countries, Palau is experiencing the impacts of climate change. These include rising temperatures, varying rainfall patterns and changes in the frequency of droughts. These impacts exacerbate the vulnerability of local communities to water and vector-borne diseases as well as water scarcity and food security.

The Palau National Climate Change Policy (2015) identified agriculture and water security among the areas requiring priority action. In 2021 a suite of impact methodology tools, including field assessments, social surveys, spatial detection tools and climate profiles, was field tested in selected trial communities in Palau.

In Angaur, one of the island states of Palau, interviews were held with 22 households to understand the impact of past water security measures. The data generated provided a baseline for the island’s water supply capacity and will help inform the national government’s plans for water supply. 

In Babeldaob and particularly the states of Aimeliik, Ngardmau, Melekeok, Ngchesar and Airai, six piggery farmers participated in the impact assessment of past projects while six taro farmers from the state of Ngatpang were part of another similar assessment.

At the end of the field trial, the project engaged with a working group from key government agencies, led by the Office of Climate Change in Palau, to study the pre-conditions needed to achieve resiliency at the community level.

Over two days in March 2022, the four countries which participated in the field testing, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Tonga, met to discuss and reflect on the findings of the impact assessments. The assessments involved different sectors: food security, water security, marine resources and coastal protection.

‘This series of reflections on applying the suite of impact tools and methodology can improve or reorient a project, or to inform decisions about whether to continue, discontinue, replicate or scale up an intervention,’ said Ms Umai Basilius, Policy and Planning Programme Manager, Palau Conservation Society and lead consultant for the trial impact assessment in Palau.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) which leads the impact assessment activities for the GCCA+ SUPA project will continue to work with partners in Palau and the other trial countries to review the data on the completed sector interventions and assess the strength of the adaptation measures. The results will be shared with all ten countries involved in the GCCA+ SUPA project in 2022-2023 with a view to inform and guide the sustainability of future climate change adaptation interventions in the Pacific Island countries.

The GCCA+ SUPA project, funded by the European Union is delivered collaboratively by SPREP, Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) with the aim to enhance climate change adaptation and resilience within the Pacific region.