Tonga to develop climate change and disaster resilience information and knowledge management products to enhance community awareness about the harmful impact of climate change
The Kingdom of Tonga, located along the Pacific tectonic plate called the Ring of Fire, is particularly vulnerable to the devastating impact of climate change.
Ranked the third most at-risk country for natural hazards and sea level rise in the 2021 World Risk Report, this high risk was clearly exposed when a volcanic eruption in January 2022 triggered up to 15m tsunami waves which destroyed entire villages.
But the people of the Kingdom of Tonga are resilient and with the help of the €12 million EU funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES), working with the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communication (MEIDECC), they are building the capacity of Tongans to adapt to climate change and continue to build their resilience.
The work focused on the development of climate change and disaster resilience information and knowledge management products to enhance community awareness about the harmful impact of climate change. Amongst some of the products created were brochures, posters and pull-up banners to help members of the public understand the impact of climate change.
A key milestone was the creation, uploading and the updating of Tonga’s climate change portal, hosted by MEIDECC. The portal was established under Tonga’s Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) 1 for information, knowledge management and sharing.
“The portal and the information it provides are critical to communities in Tonga. It places potentially life saving information for the community and their fingertips so they are better prepared for extreme weather events,” said PACRES Manager, Semi Qamese.
“We have also been working with Tonga to identify good practice and lessons learned in sharing information on the impacts of climate change and ensure relevant information from Tonga is available on the Pacific Climate Change Portal.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic border closures, country missions by PACRES Tonga were not possible. In the interim, two communication project officers were funded to work with the Department of Climate Change (DCC) to provide basic support to maintain the portal and the DCC’s database management system.
They were also tasked with researching and making recommendations on the consolidation of climate change, disaster management, resilience building and other information and data sets held by government ministries and agencies, the private sector, NGOs and communities in Tonga as well as to assist in the development of the Department of Climate Change’s Communication Strategy.
Last week, the PACRES team travelled to Tonga to review the progress of the work and consider the next steps. They found that the Tonga Climate Change Portal has been upgraded, database is in place and the information is up to date.
“We are very grateful for the work of PACRES to help our people in Tonga. Sea level rise is a clear and present danger to our communities and we have already witnessed how devastating this can be,” said the Director of Climate Change Tonga, Luisa Tuiafitu Malolo. “With the increasing use of technology, the portal has become a very important part of our response to prepare our people and communities to face extreme weather events.”
The Pacific tectonic plate, called the Ring of Fire, accounts for 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes and high variability in sea level over space and time.
Tonga is one of the fifteen Pacific ACP countries where the €12 million (US$13 million) EU funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) is building capacity to adapt to Climate Change and build resilience. This work is being implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with the Department of Climate Change in the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), Government of Tonga.
This story was originally published at SPREP on 01 May 2023, reposted via PACNEWS.