Panel discusses Human Development Report in Palau

November 22, 2022

Launch of the Human Development Report. Front Row (L-R): Sam Scott, Madame Vice President, J. Uduch Sengebau Senior, Minister of Finance, Kaleb Udui, Jr., Faustina Rehuher, Villaney Remengesau, Kevin Petrini - Deputy Resident Representative for UNDP North Pacific. Back Row (L-R): Delegate Kerai Mariur, Delegate Gibson Kanai

Photo: UNDP

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) hosted a panel discussion at the 17th Palau Economic Symposium to promote an improved understanding of the 2022 Human Development Report  with its theme - Uncertain times, Unsettled lives: shaping our future in a Transforming world.

The Report argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways. The last two years have had a devastating impact for billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization.

The Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row, the first in 32 years that UNDP has been calculating it.

The purpose of the panel discussion was to launch the Human Development Report in Palau and discuss the recent developments in the Report for Palau. The event featured HE Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior, Vice President of Palau, who gave the keynote address. The panel included perspectives from the Palau government, private sector, and civil society. A pre-recorded speech was given by the Bhutan Minister of Finance, HE Lyonpo Namgay Tshering (the Minister had hosted the Asia-Pacific regional HDR launch in Bhutan). He reflected on the valuable lessons for measuring development progress from Bhutan’s own National Happiness Index on measuring development.

Kevin Petrini, Deputy Resident Representative for the Fiji Multi-country office (leading the sub-office in the Federated States of Micronesia) highlighted the results of the HDR report, in particular, he noted that “Fiji, Palau Tonga, and Samoa show the highest human development outcomes and are in the high human development group. The Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are in the medium human development group, with the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.”

[Link to the UNDP Blog on the report Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives | United Nations Development Programme ( and results for the Pacific.] 

“Despite continued steady progress for most Pacific countries prior to COVID-19, after two years of having closed borders and weaker supply-chains, compared to 2019, there has been a backward movement in the rankings for most Pacific countries; excluding gains recorded in Tonga and Tuvalu. Overall, in the Pacific, human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr Petrini added.

H.E. the Vice President J. Uduch Sengebau-Senior in her speech, stated that, “The last two years have been an anxious and difficult time for many of us around the globe, for our countries, our communities and our families. But this also takes place amongst a range of cascading of risks to development when we consider that Palau is a Pacific Island country where the impact and risks due to climate change are severe. For our 20,000 people, droughts, typhoons, sea level rise, coastal erosion and storm surge are identified as the country’s greatest risks linked to climatological events.” She also expounded on the high incidence of Gender Based Violence (GBV), in Palau and that concerted efforts are being made to address these challenges.

A panel of representatives from Palau reflected on the theme laid out in the 2022 Human Development Report (HDR) and on those concerns in Palau that despite gains in incomes and improvements in living standards over time, the question of whether people feel safer, more equal and happier are critical questions for the country and the Pacific region. Although there remain concerns after the effects of COVID-19, the panel members also reflected that there is a lot of hope and optimism for the future if globally we continue to make changes now in building capacity of people, protecting the planet, reducing conflict and improving partnerships. 

Another panellist, Ms. Faustina Rehuher-Marugg, an avid advocate of Palau cultural identity, indigenous knowledge, gender and livelihoods spoke about the importance of the economics of culture and mentioned therein “lies the richness of our people therein lies the hope. In the interest of inclusivity, Ms. Villaney Remengesau, representing People with Disability placed emphasis on the challenge associated with a safer, more equally and happier Palau. 

The panel discussion was moderated by a renown media personnel in Palau, Ms. Leilani Reklai who brought to light the importance of the human dimension of development without too engrossed on the GDP conventional discourse. The other panellist was the President of the Palau Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Sam Scott who acknowledged Government’s support during the COVID-19 season and mentioned that “Government was with us through the utmost difficult times”, he added.

To chart a new course, the report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance including social protection to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. While innovation in its many forms - technological, economic, cultural can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next.

To learn more about the 2022 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on navigating the new uncertainty complex, visit

For media inquiries, please contact:

Emily Moli, Knowledge Communications Analyst, tel: +679 7225301; email: