Climate Resilience Sector Project, Tonga
An idyllic location comprising 170 South Pacific islands, Tonga is extremely vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and disasters because of its geographical, geological and socio-economic features.


Tonga’s Climate Resilience Sector Project (CRSP) was an ambitious and vital project that aimed to mainstream climate resilience into government planning by focusing on the most vulnerable sectors and communities in the region.


SMEC was appointed to help increase resilience in economic, social, and natural eco-systems to strengthen the enabling environment for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction at national and local levels.



SMEC was appointed in 2016 as program manager for the Tonga Joint National Action Plans (JNAP) on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management.  Scope included feasibility assessment, planning, design, project management and procurement support and construction supervision of projects.


The project’s strategic approach was to build climate resilience through development planning, infrastructure investment and establishing a sustainable system to maintain the improvements and new systems. This included training for government agencies and residents, and the establishment of a sustainable funding mechanism to support ongoing community-based adaptation.


Planning and preparation for physical interventions were also an important aspect of the role. This included undertaking of environmental and social safeguards assessments; reconnaissance inspections, surveys and investigations; preparation of a marine landings inventory; quality assurance and control; and program review and documentation.


Key agencies involved, included the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisherie, The Natural Resource Division (NRD), Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) and the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources.


Other key elements of the scope included:

  • Ensuring that the Community Plan process was streamlined and provided a pipeline for vulnerable communities to obtain funding
  • Building capacity across government agencies through on-the-job training
  • Managing safeguard activities in line with the project’s Environmental Assessment and Review Framework and Resettlement Framework
  • Reviewing planning laws relevant to the project and providing recommendations to integrate new policies into existing statutory laws
  • Coordinating and monitoring community vulnerability assessments and action plans
  • Supporting MEIDECC in implementing mangrove assessment and rehabilitation projects
  • Supporting the NRD to improve Hydrological monitoring; Water resource inventorying; planning for Integrated Water Resource Management and Integrated Coastal Monitoring


Delivering on community and environmental outcomes Over three and a half years, SMEC worked collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure the project was successfully implemented, on time and within budget, and all defined outcomes were achieved by the end of 2019. This comprehensive program has made a difference not just to institutional and government sectors but also in the areas of social development, capacity building, and women’s empowerment.


Institutionalising climate resilience

  • Over 1,400 people attended climate science related training or courses (including approximately 50% participation rate by women).
  • Frameworks relating to climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and social vulnerability have been integrated into existing policies.

Improved capacity to monitor and manage Tonga climate data and information.

  • Established a GIS system for monitoring mangrove habitats.
  • Installed a meteorological monitoring system which includes 21 automatic weather stations, two permanent sea level stations, and wave level recording sites.
  • Establish a sustainable financing mechanism to support community-based climate change adaptation and responsive investments.
  • A $5 million Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) has been established.
  • Small-scale climate resilience projects and investments are also being financed for vulnerable communities.

Increase eco-system resilience and climate infrastructure investments.

  • Seven Special Marine Management Areas (SMAs) have been established.
  • Essential infrastructure including evacuation roads, a new hospital and seawalls have been constructed.
  • Five schools have been climate proofed.
M ($)
$5 Million Climate Change Trust Fund established
Automatic weather stations
People received climate science training


Talk to one of our specialists about our role on the Climate Resilience Sector Project.