Tonga Commits To Reduce Disaster, Climate-Related Risks

Delegation to UN Humanitarian Summit discuss vulnerability

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 25, 2016) – Tonga, as the third “most vulnerable” country in the world, is making a commitment to reduce disaster and climate-related risks, Tonga’s delegation told the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, that opened on Monday May 23.

Tonga’s CEO of Ministry of Justice, Mele Vaitohi, said that Tonga wants to reduce the vulnerability of its people to natural disasters and climate change.

The two-day summit this week is attended by 65 world leaders, including four Pacific Islands leaders, and numerous public and private-sector stakeholders who will discuss global efforts to addressing the record numbers of people suffering from conflict, climate disasters and hunger.

The summit will look to world leaders to commit to five core responsibilities:

  • Prevent and end conflict
  • Respect rules of war
  • Leave no one behind
  • Working differently to end need
  • Invest in humanity

For Tonga and other Pacific Island nations and territories, climate disasters are a major concern with the rising sea levels, where people living in coastal areas are starting to migrate to higher ground.

In delivering Tonga’s statement at the summit, Ms Vaitohi said that Tonga welcomed the five core responsibilities and confirmed its commitments.

“Tonga as the third most vulnerable country in the world, attaches great importance and commitment to the Agenda and is implementing these commitments at the national level particularly the commitments anchored in Core Responsibility 4 [Natural disasters and climate change: managing and preparing differently].”

She stressed that in working toward ensuring our survival for future and present generations it was important to ensure that “we leave no one behind”.

Human suffering

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the summit urging the global community to shape a different future for the world as it witnesses its highest level of human suffering since the Second World War.

“We are here to shape a different future,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “Today, we declare: We are one humanity with a shared responsibility. Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

Current crises include hundreds killed in a recent earthquake in Ecuador, thousands fleeing bombings in Syria, millions facing hunger in Southern Africa and 130 million people displaced by conflict and situations forcing them to become refugees.

Global leaders will discuss how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges and how to better prepare for future challenges.

Pacific Island leaders at the summit include Cook Islands Prime Minister, HE Henry Puna, President of Nauru, HE Baron Divavesi Waqa, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, HE Mr Enele Sosene Sopoaga and Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. Around 200 participants from the Pacific Islands are attending, with delegations from 15 Pacific Islands governments.

Fiji's Minister for National Disaster Management has told the Disaster Rountable at the that the world must set aside the necessary funding to deal with the terrifying reality of extreme weather events, which will become more frequent as a result of climate change. The Hon Inia Seriuratu told the panel that TC Winston is proof of the damage these events can do, stretching local resources.He said Winston was a sobering lesson on inadequacy of preparedness.

UN OCHA Pacific reports that the Pacific side event on Collaborating for Resilience brought together a range of actors all working together to provide local responses to disasters and climate change across the region. “They discussed work that's underway on improving early warning weather messaging in the Cook Islands, bridging the divide through Community Protection Committees in Tonga, community preparations for El Nino in Palau and 'instreaming' of climate change in the Solomons.”

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, HE Enele Sopoaga, addressed the 600 journalists attending the summit on the risks to the Pacific from natural disasters and climate change. He also briefed the media on the outcomes of the Rountable on this subject where he advocated for a General Assembly Resolution guaranteeing legal protection for people displaced by climate change.

The Pacific Regional Steering Group had a rare opportunity to meet with the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who thanked them for their hard work in the lead up to this Summit. Emele Duituturaga from PIANGO spoke on behalf of the Pacific at the meeting.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

 

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