The Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union (EU) have welcomed the endorsement by the Government of Tonga of a new national climate change policy.
The five-year policy sets out to achieve the vision of a resilient Tonga by 2035 through specific environmental, social and economic targets, ultimately aimed at increasing Tonga’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Over the past year, Tonga’s Department of Climate Change has been shaping a revised policy that directs Tonga's response to the effects of climate change and disaster risk reduction, with technical assistance through the Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) initiative, which is supported by the European Union and implemented by SPC.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni said "it is not the Tongan way to present ourselves as victims. Our people smile through adversity and continue to stand tall. This revised Climate Change Policy therefore doesn’t dwell on our vulnerabilities. It is focused towards building a resilient Tonga by 2035.
“While the goal of a resilient Tonga by 2035 is ambitious, the policy objectives are achievable within the next five years,” he said.
The emphasis is on re-imagining and redesigning the future of Tonga to ensure that its people are able to respond as proactively as possible to the unfolding effects of climate change.
This revised policy was widely discussed among government and civil society.
Recognising that climate change is the single biggest issue that will determine the future of Tonga over the coming decades, the policy requires a ‘whole of Tonga’ level of cooperation and coordination.
The Director of Climate Change, Ms Lu’isa Tu'i'afitu Malolo, said, “rather than address climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction in a fragmented manner, the policy takes a holistic approach in building resilience.
“It will be implemented alongside Tonga’s Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management II (JNAP II), which is currently being drafted, thus providing a coordinated approach to climate change resilience,” she added.
Tonga submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) at the Conference of Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France, in December 2015. The INDC is also aligned with this Climate Change Policy.
To access the policy visit this website.
The Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA:PSIS) project is a €11.4 million European Union supported project, implemented regionally in partnership with SPC and nationally by each of the nine participating governments in Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu.
More information on this climate change project is available online.
Yesterday, SPC’s GCCA:PSIS team held a briefing at SPC headquarters in Noumea, to share the project’s lessons learned on climate change adaptation solutions as part of a regional roadshow.