Developing a Big Idea for a Small Country: The Palau Pledge

The Challenge

The current model of global mass tourism is unstable, destroying the environment and undermining cultural identities. Fragile, vulnerable places such as Palau – the 13th smallest nation in the world – face ecological devastation as visitor numbers skyrocket. The Palau Legacy Project approached us to help them develop a behaviour change solution to protect this precious, pristine island, where tourists outnumber the population eight to one and don’t realise their collective negative impact.

Palau Pledge

The Solution

Our concept was to introduce a world-first immigration policy precedent, whereby all visitors entering Palau have to make a personal promise to the children of Palau to preserve their beautiful home, by signing an eco-pledge stamped in their passport. The Palau Pledge was created and developed in partnership with the Palauan people and in line with Palauan culture. Demonstrating cultural nuances helped us successfully engage all levels of government, including the Ministries of Education, Justice and Tourism, and the Office of the President, to implement the massive immigration/landing policy changes and engage airlines to commence utilization of the compulsory in-flight video. Within hours of the launch, a carefully orchestrated global social media influencer outreach took off with Leonardo DiCaprio and Senator John Kerry being the first to post about their support for the Pledge.

The Results

• Worldwide media picked up the story, and within four weeks of launching, it had racked up 1.7 billion media impressions, with most outlets questioning why every country didn’t have a pledge like this of its own.
Today, almost 100,000 people have signed the pledge globally, and 2+ million tourists will sign it over the next 10 years.
Of those visiting Palau, 96 percent said the pledge made them consider their actions more closely, and 65 percent said they used its principles during their stay to remind others about the right way to protect the delicate environment.