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The Kingdom of Tonga is one of the many Pacific large Ocean States whose actions on climate change, conservation and sustainability are amongst the most progressive globally.
The inaugural Tonga National Dialogue on Green Growth, held on November 1 and 2 in Nuku’alofa, has solidified this status and aligns with similar initiatives in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Fiji which are taking bold steps to bring people and the environment back into national development frameworks.
The Dialogue was a collaborative initiative lead by the Tongan Government and the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, convened as a means to further establish an inclusive “whole of Tonga” approach towards achieving the Government’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) targets, as well as in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through the Tonga Strategic Development Framework.
The proceedings commenced at a special opening ceremony attended by the Crown Prince, Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalala, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni and the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, Andrew Ford.
In his opening address the Deputy Prime Minister emphasised the significance and urgency of the Green Growth agenda stating that “the development of Blue – Green growth is critical to Tonga and a productive approach to the sustainable management of our seas and the ocean, and thereby a significant contribution to the alleviation of poverty, creation of sustainable livelihoods, increased food security, improved human well-being and social equity, accompanied by reduced ecological risks and environmental degradation. Tonga must consider the Blue-Green Agenda for all developments in Tonga.” The Tongan Government has been one of the key drivers behind moving the initiative forward and ensuring a wide breadth of participation and representation from all sectors.
This inclusive and collaborative approach formed an outstanding feature of the Dialogue.
Ministers, CEOs and officers from several national ministries were in attendance, as well as officials and community representatives from local and outer island governing bodies. Participation from the private sector included various industry associations and prominent business representatives, while in addition to the Civil Society Forum, civic representation encompassed the Tonga National Leadership Development Forum, the Tonga Community Development Trust and numerous other organisations. Alongside IUCN, representatives from the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) and the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) also attended, sharing experiences and input from a regional perspective.
Featured topics at the Dialogue included:
•Oceans, Conservation & Blue Economy;
•Leadership, Green Economy, Community Enterprises & Eco-Tourism;
•Food Security, Organic Agriculture & Waste Management;
•Youth Green Innovation, Technology & Trade;
•Green & Renewable Energy; and Climate Change & Green Finance.
In his presentation to participants, IUCN Oceania Regional Director Taholo Kami highlighted that as a large Ocean State, for Tonga a “healthy ocean equals a healthy economy,” continuing that “if we can get it right with the ocean I suspect we will get it right with the economy, and we will get it right with our people.” IUCN’s participation in the historic Dialogue builds upon ongoing engagement in Tonga supporting a number of projects such as the community run marine Special Management Areas (SMAs) and development of the Ha’apai Green Growth Strategy. This latest initiative represents extensive cooperative efforts between the Government and Civil Society Forum, and looks set to expand in the future with strong commitments from both parties to continue working towards united cross-sectoral action on a sustainable pathway for Tonga’s future.
The ultimate outcome of the two-day Dialogue was the formation of the Nuku’alofa Declaration, an ambitious document outlining a cross-sectoral commitment to integrating Green Growth and outlining tangible next steps to further ‘Green’ outcomes. The Declaration, currently undergoing revision, will be submitted to the Cabinet of Tonga for ratification.
Following the Dialogue, the IUCN team were provided a unique opportunity to present to the Tonga Pacific Games committee on avenues to create a ‘Green’ legacy for the Games, which Tonga will host in 2019. Kami was also invited to address the Cabinet of Tonga, alongside Dr. Viliami Fakava, Deputy Director of FAO Pacific, on the value of the Green Growth initiative and next steps towards implementation.
The approach Tonga is taking, across all sectors, in leading the charge on Green Growth to secure a sustainable future sets an example which is not only relevant for other Pacific island states, but indeed provides a precedent that the rest of the world can follow.
For more information contact:
Intern - Communications,
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
tel: +679 3319084 | fax: +679 3100128 | web: www.iucn.org/oceania
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media