Lonely Planet describes it as “scenically magical.” The small Pacific island nation of Palau is an archipelago of about 200 islands, known for world-class dive sites featuring seascapes and marine life that has earned it “the underwater Serengeti” nickname. But its popularity was proving a problem. The environmental impact of its booming tourism had to be addressed.
“The Palau Pledge,” which last week won three Cannes Lions Grand Prix–Direct, the inaugural Sustainable Development Goals Grand Prix, and the coveted Titanium top prize–brilliantly weaved the country’s environmental message into its tourism operation and government procedure.
Created out of Host/Havas Sydney, the “pledge” asked visitors to be environmentally responsible during their time in the country by signing an agreement that was stamped into their passports upon arrival. If you wanted into Palau, you had to sign the pledge. It reads:
Children of Palau, I take this pledge as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home.
I vow to tread lightly, act kindly, and explore mindfully.
I shall not take what is not given.
I shall not harm what does not harm me.
The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.
Titanium Lions jury president and Wieden+Kennedy global co-chief creative officer Colleen Decourcy told AdAge that the campaign went beyond messaging and changed minds of governments and made them do something sustainable. “It took pieces from everything we loved in the other Titanium winners and put them into this idea that’s world-changing,” she said. “This felt like something we should be thinking about moving forward.”