Friday, 5 June, 2020 - A week long commemoration of World Environment Day culminated in the launching of Tonga’s first ever State of Environment Report (SoE) 2019 at the official closing on Friday, June 5, 2020. The SoE report was launched by Prime Minster, Hon. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, to cabinet in the nation’s capital of Nuku’alofa.
World Environment Day, a global event organised by the United Nations Environment Programme, is celebrated annually on June 5th to raise awareness and action for the recovery and protection of our natural environment. Tonga’s week-long celebrations commenced on Sunday with a televised church service, tree planting program in schools, and live radio broadcasts throughout the week.
“As the world celebrates World Environment Day, we are reminded of the progress our Pacific islands continue to make towards securing a better future for future generations,” said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“Tonga’s achievement with the launch of their first ever State of Environment Report is another example of ongoing developments and steps taken by our Pacific islands in the right direction, to ensure decision and policy makers are informed, and that the environment is safeguarded through positive conservation actions that will come as a result of this new SoE.”
The SoE is a baseline report intended to help decision and policy makers understand the trends and current environmental state of Tonga in order to identify priority areas and improve national efforts for attaining sustainable development. This is the fifth SoE report to adopted or launched by Members in the past 2 months – and it is happening during COVID-19. This follows the adoption of other SoEs by PNG, Solomon Islands, Niue and Cook Islands.
Chief Executive Officer for Environment, Mr Paula Ma’u, acknowledged SPREP for their technical and financial support in developing the report. He also stated that “the SoE report would not have been possible without the active participation of all government and non-government organisations in providing the necessary information required for the development of this report, and to further advance Tonga’s efforts towards achieving sustainability.”
The Tonga State of Environment report was completed with technical assistance from SPREP. Funding was provided from the European Union – funded ACP MEA 2 Capacity Building Project as well as the GEF funded regional Inform Project implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP.
The SoE report presents an overview of Tonga environment across seven thematic areas: Atmosphere and Climate; Inland Water; Land and Planning; Coastal and Marine Environment; Biodiversity; Built Environment; and Culture and Heritage. The report uses the ‘Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact and Response’ (DPSIR) model to describe the environment. The report is based on quantitative data relating to the state of the environment, supplemented by stakeholder input to describe causal relationships and environmental effects.