The Microstate Environmental World Cup: Palau vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Welcome back to Environmental Graffiti’s Microstate Environmental World Cup, the world’s most prestigious internet based environmental competition for microstates.



St. Vincent and the Grenadines

We’ve been pitting tiny nation against tiny nation in pitched battles decided by the environmental issues of each country. So far we’ve seen Andorra getting thrashed by Liechtenstein. Then Vatican City edged out Monaco in one of the closest matches in Environmental World Cup history. We rounded out the European qualifiers with San Marino knocking out Malta. We’ve been in the island rounds for the last three weeks, with Tuvalu taking out Nauru and Barbados beating Grenada on penalty kicks. Finally, the Seychelles took out the Maldives in a squeaker of a match.

This week marks the final match in the first round of the cup, with Palau hoping its environmental problems are less severe, or its solutions better, than the tourist paradise of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

imageImage by Aquaimages.

Palau is one of the world’s tiniest nations, as well as one of its youngest. The country became independent only in 1994 after decades of being overseen by the US via a UN trusteeship.

Palau, perhaps because of its youth and relative lack of natural resources, has managed to survive with its fragile ecosystem in relatively good shape. That’s not to say things are perfect in the Pacific archipelago, however. Fishing is one of the main industries in the area, and that hasn’t always been a positive thing for the waters of Palau. Dynamite fishing, in particular, has caused damage to the islands’ coral and ecology. Coral and sand dredging in Palau’s lagoons have further damaged the marine life of the island.

That could turn out to be a major environmental problem for the island, and perhaps an economic one. Palau should have a vested interest in keeping its waters clean and healthy. In 1989 it was rated the greatest underwater wonder in the world by CEDAM International. As one of its other major industries is tourism, particularly SCUBA divers and snorkelers, marine health should be a priority for the nation. Thankfully, the islands’ president recently spearheaded the Micronesia challenge, in which Palau and several Micronesian nations would conserve large chunks of their coastline and forests.

soufriereSoufriere volcano by ACP

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the Caribbean’s top tourist destinations. They too have a vested interest in tackling their own environmental problems, and has done quite a bit to take care of environmental issues as they arise. One environmental problem that they’ll never be able to solve, however, is Soufrière. Soufrière is a big volcano and a constant threat to the island. Although the islands are much better prepared for eruptions these days, the memory of the 1902 eruption that killed over 1500 and destroyed a large portion of St. Vincent is never far from the mind.

You know you’re a tourism hotspot when one of your biggest environmental problems is pollution from yachts. The eastern shores of the Grenadines have all been affected by boating pollution. This pollution, along with pollution from sewage and agriculture, has made parts of the area unsafe for swimming.

The government has taken some steps to tackle those particular environmental issues, as well as to preserve some of the islands’ exotic animals. The central mountains of St. Vincent are now a wildlife preserve set aside to protect the islands’ rare and endangered species, such as the St. Vincent parrot, wren, and solitaire.

Final Score: Palau-3 St. Vincent and the Grenadines-1

Palau’s recent efforts with the Micronesia challenge, as well as their relatively undamaged ecosystem, are just too to compete with. Any island that can count yacht pollution as one of its environmental issues is going to have trouble overcoming a tiny archipelago named an underwater wonder of the world. Palau wins this one decisively.

Join us next week for the second round of Environmental Graffiti’s Microstate Environmental World Cup.

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