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New research could help Tonga be better prepared for climate change

Alakihihifo Vailala

Lord Fakafanua says findings in a new report has many possible benefits for the Kingdom’s government and its people.

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The Speaker of Tonga’s Legislative Assembly hopes new research will influence their policymakers as the Kingdom’s next budget session in Parliament approaches.

Speaking on 531pi Pacific Mornings, Lord Fatafehi Fakafanua says Tonga lacks the infrastructure to deal with challenges posed by climate change and high inflation from geopolitical conflicts halfway around the world.

His comments follow the release of a new report by the Tongan government, the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the Royal Oceania Institute which identifies the most pressing policy priorities for the Kingdom.

“The report will be very influential for policymakers, and it should be a useful tool come the next budget session when we discuss it in Parliament,” Lord Fakafanua says.

“Our hope is for a higher level of living for our people and a more resilient country

“The report states that the investments will pay itself back in about three or four years and in terms of the government’s overall procurement, which will be in the millions, could be reallocated to other useful projects.”

Tonga is the first in the Pacific to be part of this project with the Copenhagen Consensus think-tank, which investigates the best investments for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The report has a traffic light scoring system from poor, fair, good and excellent for most of Tonga’s government policies based on the return and the value for money.

Policies that have been ranked as excellent include the digitisation of the government tendering processes, early warning systems for natural disasters and building of sea walls to protect infrastructure from rising sea levels.

“Digitisation of government processes is important because like many countries, we also have an element of corruption in our government,” Lord Fakafanua says.

“This is just part of ensuring that we can streamline the processes and curb the misuse of procurement processes and ensure that the taxpayers are getting the best value for money

“One of the interventions that scored very highly amongst other things such as asymmetrical learning. So, tablets that enable kids not to fall behind in school.”

He says there’s also been talks about interventions in the outer islands such as the need to build a seawall in Ha’apai.

“We’ve been building sea walls and such as the new reality that we live in on the islands. We are highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and the rising sea level is affecting us all.

“I’m happy that Tonga is the first country to conduct this study and I’m sure that the report will be very useful. I look forward to seeing other countries in the Pacific conduct their own studies.”

Hero Image: Lord Fatafehi Fakafanua. Photo/Supplied

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