Can New and Traditional Sharing Practices Be Integrated? The Case of Use of Natural Resources in Palau, Micronesia

  • Akiko IidaEmail author
  • Yasukazu Hama
  • Christopher Kitalong
Part of the Science for Sustainable Societies book series (SFSS)


The shared economy features a wide gap between the new digital sharing phenomenon and traditional communal sharing practices. This study examines the value of traditional sharing practices and discusses how new digital technologies can harness it. The study examines the use of marine and terrestrial natural resources through subsistence activities over 10 years in the Republic of Palau, Micronesia, and compares their frequency with the use of digital devices. The results show that the frequency of subsistence fishing, farming, and collecting has not substantially changed over 10 years in either urban or rural areas and that there is no relationship between the frequency of subsistence activities and digital technology use, despite the rapid spread of mobile devices. These findings indicate that nonmarket-based subsidence economies that rely heavily on local natural resources have not been completely replaced by a globalized monetary economy. Traditional practices in Palau use common natural resources and hand down the practical and empirical knowledge required to manage them in sustainable ways. Despite the many changes brought by external influences, these traditional communal sharing practices are still rooted in Palauan culture. This culture of sharing is the medium that sustains the healthy relationships between humans and ecosystems and can play a key role in building climate change resilience. It is thus desirable to employ the new digital technologies to pass traditional communal sharing practices down to future generations rather than just use them to do what they are used for in industrialized countries.


Communal sharing practices Natural resource Subsistence activity Resilience Palau 



This work was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI (JP26870164) and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (4RF-1401) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. The survey on changes in the use of natural resources was supported by Palau Community College, Pacific STEP-UP, and the Pacific Academic Institute for Research and The Environment INC. Lastly, I would like to thank Mrs. Ngeduas Ueki, who kindly allowed us to accompany her during her Omesurech.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Akiko Iida
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yasukazu Hama
    • 2
  • Christopher Kitalong
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of EngineeringThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Spatial Information ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Pacific Academic Institute for Research and Palau Community CollegeKororPalau

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