Tonga, second most at risk country in the world

16 March 2015, Sendai, Japan - It's known as the friendly islands, but here at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Kingdom of Tonga is known as the second most at risk country in the world facing constant threats of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, tropical cyclones and other related climatic hazards.

Cyclone Ian1 web copyAfter Cyclone Ian in Tonga (c) Tonga Meteorological Service

In 2014 the Northern Island Group of Ha'apai was hit by Tropical Cyclone Ian resulting in one fatality and almost 70% displaced residents with a total estimated loss close to USD 48 million. It was also the year that severe drought conditions in the Ha'apai and Tongatapu Group affected key agricultural products targeted for export and also led to drinking water shipped in. To end 2014 a volcanic eruption happened near Hunga Island, 62 kms away from the capital Nukualofa leading to disruptions to both international and domestic air transportation.

"Tonga was the first country in the Pacific to develop and approve a Joint National Action Plan for the integration of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management," said Hon. Siaosi Sovaleni, the Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga from the front podium at the High Level Segment of the 3WCDRR.

"This integrated approach has resulted in several inter-sectoral programs being established to address Tonga's priorities for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and strengthened preparedness, response and recovery effort."

"This is a testimony to Tonga's continued commitment to the integration of Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change, to ensure the people of Tonga achieved sustainable development."

Tonga is committed to the process undertaken in the Pacific islands region that has developed the Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific to be showcased at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction with a special event.

The new strategy to succeed the separate frameworks on disaster risk reduction and climate change reflects the work that Tonga has undertaken and implemented over the past six years.


"Tonga continues to work together with its regional organisations and development partners in addressing its high degree of vulnerability to climate change and disaster risks" stated the Deputy Prime Minister.

"We seek greater investment in science and technology to better inform risk reduction activities and improved early warning systems."

"Tonga is committed to strengthening the ongoing collaborative efforts, aimed at preventing risk accumulation and building resilience in Pacific island countries and territories, while involving all stakeholders, and giving special consideration to the needs of the most vulnerable and to the observation of human rights."

The Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga was a featured panelist at the Pacific side event sharing more about the work undertaken by the island nation to unite climate change and disaster risk management in their national policies and systems.  "Building Resilience to Disasters and Climate Change in the Pacific for Sustainable Development" was held on Monday, 16 March from 9.45am – 12pm at B104 Kawauchi-Kita Camps, Tohoku University.

The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is hosted in Sendai, Japan from 14 - 18 March. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is a participating partner in the 3WCDRR alongside UNISDR, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the University of the South Pacific together with Pacific Island Countries and Territories to raise awareness of the Integrated Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development in the Pacific (SRDP). New Caledonia is also attending this 3WCDRR. The Pacific island region is the first to bring together climate change and disaster risk reduction in an overarching framework.
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