Agroforestry key to resilience in Tonga

Tonga cyclone

Lifuka Island, Tonga following Cyclone Ian in January 2014. Photo: Scott McLennan / DFAT

The Pacific island nation of Tonga has released an ambitious National Climate Change Policy, aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy by 2035 and 30 per cent of land utilized for agroforestry or forestry.

An article in Matangi Tonga Online explains how the policy is designed to build a “resilient Tonga by 2035”. It includes measures to ensure self-sufficiency in times of crisis and significantly reduce reliance on imported food.

Resilient agriculture systems with enhanced crop production and low chemical input are key elements of the policy as are the protection and enhancement of biodiversity and well-managed water resources.

Tonga comprises 176 islands scattered over 700,000 square kilometers of ocean in the South Pacific. The country is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially a predicted increase in the frequency, duration and/or intensity of tropical cyclones and sea level rise.

The new policy proposes the redesign of infrastructure and resilient homes, schools and community halls that incorporate design for Category 5 cyclones, water storage, solar power and bio-digesters.

In launching the policy, Minister for Climate Change, Siaosi Sovaleni, said it would require a redesigned approach that brings together traditional knowledge and values with 21st century knowledge and technology.

Through the policy, the government of Tonga is aiming to integrate adaptation, disaster risk reduction and mitigation into all applicable laws, policies, plans and activities from the national to the local level. There is a strong emphasis in the policy on gender and equity for disadvantaged groups as well as awareness raising, disaster preparedness and strengthened parliamentary and institutional capacities.

Read the full story: Tonga policy aims to build climate change resilience by 2035'

Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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