Pacific Scoop

Tonga presents at Pacific Climate Change Roundtable

Press Release – SPREP

Tonga’s achievements towards addressing climate change as a nation was showcased today during the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Alofi, Niue. Tonga presents at Pacific Climate Change Roundtable

Tonga’s achievements towards addressing climate change as a nation was showcased today during the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Alofi, Niue.

The Kindgom of Tonga is the first of the Pacific members of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to produce a joint national action plan for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

The action plan was approved by Cabinet in Tonga in July last year.

The plan has helped bring two separate bodies together that work on similar issues to work in a more unified manner under the one action plan that covers all sectors, instead of working independently and often duplicating efforts. It addresses issues in relation to climate change, sea level rise, extreme events and geological hazards.

“This plan started with political support in 2009,”said Lupe Matoto of the technical and sustainable development division in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

“We also carried out a lot of consultation with stakeholders, nationally we haven’t been so quiet, and we have achieved a lot in terms of collaboration with other stakeholders.”

The Vision of the Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management for Tonga is to ‘promote and ensure safe, healthy, secure and resilient communities to climate change impacts and disaster risks’.

The plan has six goals in all covering good governance, enhanced technical knowledge and an increase in education and understanding of the JNAP, analysis and assessment of climate change impacts and disaster risk, enhanced community preparedness and resilience to all disasters, technically reliable, economically affordable and environmentally sound support to Tonga and strong partnerships between government agencies, NGO’s and private sectors.

“In preparing this plan we learnt that you need really good teamwork for this to work well, teamwork and strong partnerships. It is also best if there is direct involvement of the communities in project activities to ensure ownership and there is a real need for donor coordination to avoid duplication.”

Other major achievements by the Kingdom of Tonga include the passing of two legislations, one being the Environment Management Act 2010 which has led to the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Renewable Energy Amendment Act 2010 and the Tonga Energy Roadmap 2010 – 2020 was formed which steps out the plan for Tonga to use more renewable energy.

Tonga has completed their second national communications, a report which is required under the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be submitted to cabinet for endorsement.

“We’ve taken the first step, now we need to follow through and carry out this work. We’re hopeful that partners will take our JNAP and other related action plans on board to see how we can all work on this together.”

The Kindgom of Tonga has also established a Parliament Standing Committee for Environment and Climate Change which will discuss any issues on a cabinet level to fast track any outstanding issues on climate change. Every quarter the Ministry on Environment and Climate Change will host a national climate change roundtable with resident donors and all relevant stakeholders, the first one was held last year with the next climate change roundtable to be held next month.

Pacific Islanders celebrate 2011 Pacific Year of the Dugong
14 March 2011, Palau – Dugong protection in the Pacific Islands region will be highlighted this year as part of the Pacific Year of the Dugong. It is a boost to the conservation of the species and its seagrass habitats.

The regional campaign was launched in Korror, Palau this week by President Johnson Toribiong and Minister of Natural Resources, Environment & Tourism Harry Fritz.

Palau hosts the smallest, most remote and critically endangered dugong population in the region.

In launching the regional campaign Palau also commenced their national campaign with the reminder by President Toribiong that we are stewards of the environment and have a moral obligation to protect dugongs in the spirit of “I’ll save you so some day you’ll save me”.

He requested support from other nations to join Palau to preserve, protect and cherish this important, unique dugong population.

Minister Fritz urged Palauans to take the task of education to protect, respect and love dugongs and their habitats.

It was also acknowledged at the launch of the Pacific Year of the Dugong 2011 that there is a need to address poaching which is the biggest threat to the fragile population in Palau. Authorities were urged to work together to enforce legislation to prevent this and it was highlighted that publicising arrests and convictions for poaching of dugongs would be an effective deterrent within the general community.

Raising the awareness on the status of dugongs and related aspects as well as the existing legislation was also raised as an important area for immediate attention.

Minister Yano closed the launch by confirming Palau’s Government full commitment to support the Pacific Year of the Dugong campaign and shared a personal experience when a local woman released a dugong that was tied up signifying that a single act can make an important change.

Notes: At the launch, about 60 invited guests, representing Government Ministries, NGOs, communities, students and industry groups were present. Opening remarks were given by the Honourable Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism. Guest speakers included SPREP and UNEP/CMS representatives. Presentations were given by the Koror State Rangers, Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Ministry of Justice and the Bureau of Marine Resources The participants were entertained over lunch with the Palau Dugong song composed by Mr Edward Anastacio. The Minister of State, Mr Victor Yano gave closing remarks.
The Pacific Year of the Dugong; Respect and Protect
14 March, 2011, Palau – The campaign to progress the protection of the dugong, led by the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and its partner the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS), will target local coastal and fishing communities and water craft users in the Pacific region.

Awareness and outreach activities highlighting the need for protection of dugongs in the Pacific Islands region will be the focus of the campaign being initiated through national launches in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

A number of initiatives to build local capacity to deliver positive conservation outcomes for dugongs in the Pacific Island region will also be promoted throughout the Pacific Year of the Dugong.

A new pilot project using financial incentives to address direct hunting and the incidental capture of dugongs by changing people’s practices and improving the livelihoods of local communities in Daru Papua New Guinea are among the initiatives to be promoted under the Pacific Year of the Dugong 2011.

Dugongs, which play a significant ecological role in the functioning of coastal habitats, live in warm coastal and islands waters from East Africa to Vanuatu in the Pacific.

The conservation and plan developed under the United Nations Environment Programme/CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MoU) provides the framework for the regional cooperation for the long-term protection of dugongs in the Indian Ocean, South East Asia, South Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Specific to the Pacific Islands region, SPREP has a regional Dugong Action Plan 2008-2012.

All range states in the Pacific Island region (Australia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) have committed to the Dugong MoU as signatories. In 2010 Palau declared a marine mammal sanctuary, which includes dugongs, within its Economic Exclusive Zone.

For more information on the Pacific Year of the Dugong 2011, please visit:


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