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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. The project aimed to increase resilience in Tonga’s economic, social, and natural eco-systems to climate variability, change and disaster risk.

Partnering for success

From March 2016, SMEC provided design, project management and procurement support and construction supervision to the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communication (MEIDECCC), and various project implementation units. This included environmental and social safeguards assessments; reconnaissance inspections, surveys and investigations; preparation of marine landings inventory; quality assurance and control; and program review and documentation.

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.

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.

Some of the key achievements in relation to each program output are highlighted below:

  • Ensure climate resilience is mainstreamed into development planning for key vulnerable sectors.
    • Over 1400 people attended climate science related training or courses (including approximately 50% participation rate by women). This includes 20 candidates (including 11 women) who graduated from 3-year undergraduate courses in climate science related courses at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Tonga.
    • Frameworks relating to climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and social vulnerability have been integrated into existing policies.
    • Established a GIS system for monitoring mangrove habitats.
  • Improve capacity to monitor and manage Tonga climate data and information.
    • Installed a meteorological monitoring system which includes 21 automatic weather stations, 2 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 $5M 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.
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