Tonga’s government is looking for 50 million US dollars to deal with climate change issues in the country.
The Environment and Climate Change Minister Siaosi Sovaleni says there are highly vulnerable communities where coastal erosion, flooding, and inundation problems need urgent attention.
Mr Sovaleni told Koro Vaka’uta this is why the government will apply to the UN’s Green Climate Fund in April for finance.
SIAOSI SOVALENI: This is our first proposal to the Green Climate Fund. We take it very seriously. We consider some of the organisations that we can partner with to actually get some kind of assistance. We got UNDP, [United Nations Development Programme], and SPREP [Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme], as our partners to actually develop this proposal. We started in January and we are in the stage now where we are ready to actually submit it. Part of the reason why we had an appraisal workshop last week is that we got most of the information together and we want to present it to the various stakeholders here in Tonga to actually get their final feedback before we finalise the proposal and send it to the Green Climate Fund.
KORO VAKA’UTA: How much as needed and what will it be used for?
SS: It is around about 50 million US. Part of it is a request for GCF but there are actually other partners that are helping. It is about coastal protection and what we can do about protecting and help mitigate the erosion problems we are having in coastal areas. We are focussing on four areas. Coastal protection for our eastern side and our western side and also Ha’apai. We have got other activities around working with SMAs, [Special Marine Areas], and about working with corals and so forth, especially in Vava’u but primarily the key components are coastal protection in Ha’apai and Tongatapu.
KV: You mentioned this will be the first application, is that because the issues have become more prevalent recently?
SS: Basically, part of it was actually getting Tonga ready to actually submit the proposal and finding the right partners. The fact that this is our first one shows how important protecting our coastal villages are to Tonga. I know that’s why this is going to be the first proposal we are sending to the Green Climate Fund.
KV: Do you know roughly how many people these issues are affecting and impacting?
SS: In Ha’apai we are talking about a couple of thousand people. In the eastern side, similar numbers, but more importantly even with the coastal protection, because most of our roads tend to be on the coastline and if you don’t do something about it it will also affect those key infrastructure and that will affect people down the road who actually need those roads for transportation. The two components are here in Tongatapu and that’s [where] 70 to 80 percent of the population of Tonga reside.
KV: When we are talking coastal protection are we talking planting, sea walls? What are we talking?
SS: We are talking about revetment. Revetment to actually protect. We have got some initiatives, we have got some projects there with the European Union whereby we are actually trying to get the sand bags but this will provide some protection to minimise the erosion and the potential effects on the roads because they are key infrastructure, not only for transportation purposes but also accessing plantations and so forth.
Published on Radio New Zealand website, 13 March 2017