The King of Tonga
Climate Change Resilience

1 December 2023, Dubai UAE - Nature, people, lives and livelihoods must be at the heart of climate action. That was the message from the King of Tonga, His Majesty King Tupou VI, to world leaders and delegates at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) in Dubai, UAE.
His Majesty King Tupou VI was the first Pacific leader to address the High-Level plenary at the World Climate Action Summit at COP28 and reminded the meeting about the lived reality of the climate crisis for Pacific countries.
“The far-reaching impacts of climate change and disasters on human security and mobility displaces more than 50,000 Pacific people every year, due to climate and disaster related events,” His Majesty King Tupou VI said. “It is painful for the people of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to see that COP28 may not be the milestone moment we had all been hoping for because our slow progress on the Paris Agreement.” 
The Kingdom of Tonga is amongst Pacific countries at the immediate forefront of climate change impacts where cyclones, earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions, storm surges, droughts and tsunamis, amongst other weather-related calamities, is their ‘lived reality.’ 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have repeatedly warned that the world is not on course to meeting the 1.5 degree Celsius target our One Pacific Voice has been advocating. On the global stage, a provisional report from the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2023 is set to be the warmest on record, with global temperatures rising 1.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Leaders gathered for COP28 must act now, the Kingdom of Tonga urged.
“The ambitious agenda before us focuses on four paradigm shifts to guide our work under the negotiating mandates and the Presidency’s Action Agenda, but I believe that we can make major progress by placing one of those important shifts at the forefront of our debate.”
The King of Tonga also shone the spotlight on the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity (PPfP) recently endorsed during the 52nd Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in the Cook Islands, as well as the Pacific Resilience Facility and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific continent, calling for support from partners.
 “I urge all partners to work with us and help us implement the PPfP,” His Majesty King Tupou VI said.
“We need a Pacific-led, Member-owned and managed community resilience financing facility. We recognise Australia’s and New Zealand’s commitments and I, therefore, strongly urge all partners to contribute to funding the establishment of a Pacific Resilience Facility.
“The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent sees Pacific Island Countries embarking on a blue technological revolution with innovation at the centre, seeking to develop and deploy SIDS-Appropriate technologies such as ocean energy technologies, and looking at ways to improve the climate resilience of the majority of the Tongan population.”
As Ocean People; the ocean is our lifeblood, His Majesty King Tupou VI said.
“It feeds us, it is our mode of transportation, and part of our deep-seated culture, making COP28 and the themes outlined by the UAE, right in line with the major gaps and challenges that the Kingdom of Tonga and SIDS are experiencing, that is, the areas of technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance.”
His Majesty King Tupou also reminded world leaders that Tonga and Palau are Champions of the “Unlocking the Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan.” The plan articulates the goals of one 100 percent effective ocean management for the region and 30% protection of the Blue Pacific Continent. It also aligns to Pacific country contexts, priorities, and capacities; robust food systems; and fit-for-purpose sustainable financing mechanisms that support the implementation of the 2050 Strategy.
The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28) in Dubai, UAE is taking place from Thursday 30 November 2023 – Tuesday 12 December 2023. 
It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for the survival of Pacific communities who continue to be at the forefront of climate change impacts.
A key part of amplifying the One Pacific Voice at COP28 is the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, which is a Pacific partnership with Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. 
Another key part of the Pacific’s work at COP28 is the Pacific Delegation Office, which is a partnership with Aotearoa New Zealand. Both the Moana Pacific Pavilion and the Pacific Delegation Office are managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Photo Credit: UN Climate Change