Ms. Tepaeru Herrmann
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration
PO Box 105, RAROTONGA, Cook Islands
Telephone: (682) 29347
Email: [email protected] OR [email protected]  

Ms. Teuru Passfield
Director – Pacific Regional Affairs Division
PO Box 105, RAROTONGA, Cook Islands
Telephone: (682) 29347
Email: [email protected] 

Mr. Halatoa Fua
National Environment Services
PO Box 371
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Telephone: +682 21256
Fax: +682 22256
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Wayne King
Climate Change
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tel: +682 29454 ext 7009
Fax: (682) 20856
Email:  [email protected]  

Mr. Isaac Ryan
Climate Change Advisor
Office of the Prime Minister, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Email:  [email protected]  

Ms. Celine Dyer
Climate Change Advisor
Office of the Prime Minister, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Email:  [email protected] 

Date updated: April 2024

Country Overview

Capital: Rarotonga
Land: 240 sq km
EEZ: 1.8 million sq km
Population: 19,569 (2006)
Language: Cook Islands Maori, English
Currency: New Zealand Dollar, Cook Islands coins
Economy: Agriculture, black pearl industry, offshore banking and tourism

Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands, with the high volcanic island of Rarotonga the centre of government and commerce. Geographically and, to a certain extent culturally, the nation is divided into two groups: the southern group, comprising the islands of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Rarotonga, Manuae (an uninhabited atoll) and Takutea (an uninhabited sand cay); and the northern group, comprising the islands of Manihiki, Palmerston, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Suwarrow (atolls) and Nassau, which are relatively isolated and less developed.

Cook Islands is a self-governing, parliamentary, representative democracy within a constitutional monarchy in free association with New Zealand. Under the terms of the free association, Cook Islanders hold New Zealand citizenship (there is no Cook Islands citizenship) and enjoy the right of free access to New Zealand. New Zealand retains some responsibility for external affairs in consultation with Cook Islands, although in recent times Cook Islands has adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy and has diplomatic relations in its own name with 21 countries and international organisations.


Figure 1 Source: Taken from Map No. 3974 Rev. 15 (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), United Nations, July 2007.


Date updated: March 2016

Current Climate

According to the most recent climate science report for the Cook Islands, the country’s current climate shows that warming trends are evident in annual and half-year maximum and minimum air temperatures at Rarotonga (Southern Cook Islands) for the period 1934–2011. For the period 1941–1991 there was no trend in annual mean temperature at Penrhyn (Northern Cook Islands).  The annual number of warm days and warm nights from 1935 increased at Rarotonga, while the number of cold nights has decreased. 

The annual and half-year rainfall trends show little change at Rarotonga since 1899 and Penrhyn since 1937. There has also been little change in extreme daily rainfall at both sites since the mid-1930s.

Tropical cyclones affect the Cook Islands mainly between November and April. An average of 18 cyclones per decade developed within or crossed the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the 1969/70 and 2010/11 seasons. Tropical cyclones were most frequent in El Niño years (28 cyclones per decade) and least frequent in La Niña years (6 cyclones per decade). Seventeen of the 53 tropical cyclones (32%) between the 1981/82 and 2010/11 seasons became severe events (Category 3 or higher) within the Cook Islands EEZ. Available data are not suitable for assessing long-term trends.

Wind-waves in the Cook Islands are dominated by trade winds and the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) seasonally, and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Southern Annular Mode (SAM) inter annually. Larger storm waves are seen in the Southern Cook Islands than in the Northern Cook Islands.

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

Future Climate

For the period to 2100, the latest global climate model (GCM) projections and climate science findings indicate that for the Cook Islands:

  • El Niño and La Niña events will continue to occur in the future (very high confidence), but there is little consensus on whether these events will change in intensity or frequency;
  • Annual mean temperatures and extremely high daily temperatures will continue to rise (very high confidence);
  • Average annual rainfall is projected to stay similar to the current climate, except for a small decrease in May–October in the Northern Cook Islands under the high emission scenario (medium confidence), with more extreme rain events (high confidence);
  • Drought frequency is projected to remain similar to the current climate in the Southern Cook Islands, but increase slightly in the Northern Cook Islands under the high emission scenario (medium confidence);
  • Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence) and the risk of coral bleaching is expected to increase (very high confidence);
  • Sea level will continue to rise(very high confidence); and wave climate is not projected to change significantly (low confidence).

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

For more information, go to

Date updated: March 2016


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) is the political focal point for climate change, disaster risk management and development. In 2011 Climate Change Cook Islands (CCCI) as a division of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) was established and signalled the transfer of the operational focal point functions from the National Environment Services (NES).  All international, regional and national climate change matters are managed, overseen and coordinated by CCCI.  Disaster risk reduction matters are coordinated by Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) as legislated by the 2007 Disaster Risk Management Act.  The Central Planning and Policy Division (CPPO) is mandated to oversee the implementation of development priorities.  Advice and information on progress is currently provided to Cabinet on C&DCD related outcomes by these divisions through the National Sustainable Development Commission (NSDC) and the minister. As portfolios of the Prime Minster, these divisions along with the Office of the Energy Commissioner and Renewable Energy Development Division form a central policy and planning hub in addressing climate and disaster risks to Development.

Cook Islands has broadened its Climate Change Country Team (CCCT) to include members of the DRM community in what is now renamed the National CC  and DRM Platform. The Platform is a multi-stakeholder forum that operates to share information and unite around related policy and programmes of action as an ‘all of country’ approach.  It provides CCCI and EMCI a setting to communicate with stakeholders but it also provides for prospective collaboration with stakeholders through the CC funding schemes and the JNAP’s activities[1].

Cook Islands development plans, policies and strategies established at the national levels to address climate chane are provided in brief below.  These guide governance decisions at the national and local (pa enua) levels and are listed in the List of Publications, Links and References tab pages. A summary of each of these are provided below.

The Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP 2011-2015) and its 20 year vision - Te Kaveinga Nui (TKN) is “To enjoy the highest quality of life consistent with the aspirations of our people, and in harmony with our culture and environment”.  Like many countries, there is limited documented evidence of frameworks that integrate CC, disasters and development.  Cook Islands TKN and the NSDP as the basis of development planning will be framed to address climate change and disaster using a climate change and disaster policy framework. This considers  ‘development  that  minimizes  the  harm  caused  by  climate  impacts  while  maximizing  the many  human  development  opportunities  presented  by  low  emissions,  more  resilient  future.’[2]  Three goals of the NSDP will be met when challenges of climate change and disaster risk management are addressed:

  • Goal 4: “Sustainable use and management of our environment and natural resources”
  • Goal 5 “Strengthened and affordable basic infrastructure, transport and utilities to support national development”; and
  • Goal 6 “A safe secure and resilient community”

The NSDP is aligned with the nation’s regional and international commitments such as the Pacific Plan, the Sustainable Development Goals, the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway and other multi-lateral environmental agreements such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification among others.

In 2013, Cook Islands completed an assessment of its climate change policy and recommended the endorsement of a Climate & Disaster Compatible Development Policy 2013 – 2016 (C&DCDP).  The Policy was endorsed in August 2013 and its overarching statement is to ‘ensure that the sustainable development of the Cook Islands is actively pursued by (the) people through a climate and disaster resilient approach that has the capacity to manage climate and disaster risks and reduce emissions in the context of sustainable development’.  The Policy serves to connect the overarching strategies of the NSDP 2011-2015 and Medium term Budget Framework to a range of existing development, climate and disaster related policies an plans.  It also serves to provide direction to new policy, planning and budgetary tools available to the government and its partners seeking to build upon or incorporate the directions set out in this policy.

The National Environment Strategic Action Framework 2013–2016 (NESAF) is mandated by the Environment Act 2003 and is a key document for the environmental sector including climate change. NESAF is currently in draft form.  The NESAF Target Programme 3 has the Strategic Goal of: “Increasing Resilience by strengthening national capacities for climate change, variability, adaptation and mitigation”. The NESAF and Second National Communication to the UNFCCC are guiding documents for Cook Islands Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) which focuses primarily on CC adaptation and DRM measures. For a diagrammatic presentation of these measures refer to page 16 and 19 of the Cook Islands 2012 Disaster Risk Management & Climate Change Adaptation Joint National Action Plan (2012 JNAP).  The 2016-2019 JNAP is in draft form.

Date updated: March 2016

[1] Ibid, 2014

[2] P.1 2010 C&DKN, Defining Climate Compatible Development. in Akairo Limited 1July 2013 Climate Change Policy Assessment Final Report

National Climate Change Priorities

The NSDP strategies are national priorities and all sector and government agencies planning is aligned to these strategies.  The NSDP has 8 key goals that seek to address the 5 Strategic Outcomes in Te Kaveinga Nui. While none of the Strategic Goals explicitly reference climate change; several references are cross cutting across the goals.  The strategies under Priority Area 5 (resilience) of the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) 2011–2015 address responses to climate change and disaster risk management as follows:

  • Ensure strong governance arrangements for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation
  • Ensure that high quality risk information is available to inform planning and implementation
  • Enhance effective preparedness response and recovery
  • Build resilience through effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

The C&DCDP strategic (priority) outcomes are:

  • Sustainable water, food, energy and social security
  • Increased community preparedness and adaptation to risks and impacts
  • Effective and sustainable use of land, sea, and natural resources
  • Safeguarded biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuels
  • Improved energy security
  • Enhanced coordination and strengthened implementation through integrated institutional and implementing arrangements across communities and sectors.

As guiding documents to the JNAP, the NESAF and the Second National Communication to the UNFCCC provides a strategic goal and a number of pertinent sector-based adaptation needs and priorities respectively. These are summarised in the table below.

NESAF 2013 -2016 (draft)Second National Communications to the UNFCCC priorities:

Target Programme 3 Strategic Goal:

“Increasing Resilience by strengthening national capacities for climate change, variability, adaptation and mitigation”

  1. Coastal zones and infrastructure
  2. Agriculture
  3. Marine Resources and Fisheries
  4. Biodiversity
  5. Water Resources
  6. Human Health and Wellbeing













The Cook  Islands  Joint  National  Action  Plan  (JNAP)  for  Disaster  Risk Management  and  Climate  Change  Adaptation  is  aligned  to  the  National  Sustainable Development  Plan  (NSDP),  the  Medium  Term  Budgeting  Framework  (MTBF),  the  Disaster  Risk Management  Act  2007, and  its  associated  regulations  and  arrangements including the Cyclone Recovery Reconstruction Plan (CRRP), the Preventative  Infrastructure Master  Plan  (PIMP),  the  National Environment  Strategic  Action Framework  (NESAF),  and  the Second  National  Communication report  to  the  UNFCCC[1]

The 2011-2015 JNAP vision is ‘a Safe, Resilient, and Sustainable Cook Islands’ outlines four strategic areas:

  • Strategic Area 1 - Governance.  
  • Strategic Area 2 - Monitoring.
  • Strategic Area 3 - Disaster Management.
  • Strategic Area 4 - Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation.

A preliminary review of the 2011-2015 JNAP was carried out in early 2014 and concluded that the majority of actions are in the implementation stage while some actions will be ongoing beyond the shelf life of the JNAP, especially those related to capacity building and education, and awareness.

With respect to disaster  risk management,  the  JNAP  identifies priorities  and  actions  to  facilitate the  effective  implementation of existing DRM legislation  as well as aligning to the Hyogo framework. In 2005 the Cook Island Government developed a Disaster Risk Management Policy which takes an ‘all hazards’, integrated and ‘whole of government’, ‘whole of country’ approach to disaster risk reduction and disaster management. The policy states that formal processes of risk management are to be applied in all aspects of national development planning in order to reduce the underlying risks created by changing social, economic, environmental conditions and resource use, and the impact of hazards, including those associated with climate variability, climate change and extreme weather events.

The priorities under each strategic area of the JNAP is summarised as follows:

Strategic Area


1. Governance
  1. Strengthen governance arrangements for DRM and CCA
  2. Mainstream natural hazard and climate change risk considerations in planning and budgetary systems
2. Monitoring
  1. Monitor and assess risks and vulnerabilities, including to the impacts of long term climate change
  2. Document traditional knowledge and coping mechanisms
3. Disaster Management
  1. Strengthen Preparedness, Response and Early Recovery Systems, including or the impacts of climate change
4. Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation
  1. Strengthen infrastructure and safeguard essential services taking into account current and anticipated climate changes
  2. Strengthen economic development and livelihood systems in key sectors, increasing resilience to disasters and climate change.


All links and information can be found by visiting and searching on the simple Cook Islands Government Search engine portal:

Date updated: March 2016

[1] Ibid, 2013


The adaptation priorities outlined under the JNAP, namely strengthening infrastructure and safeguard essential services taking into account current and anticipated climate changes; and strengthening economic development and livelihood systems in key sectors, increasing resilience to disasters and climate change; has been progressed by a number of lead government agencies with the exception of a few strategic outcome yet to commence.

Building the resilience of the coastal sector has been through strengthening and climate-proofing of key infrastructure in the coastal zone.  The Ministry of Infrastructure Planning, now Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) implemented the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) to demonstrate a climate proof harbour. For more information on the PACC project, search PACC or visit

The Office of the Prime Minister is implementing the “Strengthening the Resilience of Our Islands and Our Communities to Climate Change” (SRIC-CC) project with the view to  strengthening  and  implementing  relevant  policies,  support  activities  and implementation  of  relevant  aspects  of  the  Community  Sustainable  Development  Plans  for  each  Pa Enua (outer  islands).  Other activities of the SRIC-CC programme include mainstreaming activities that focus on incorporating climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) into relevant policies and plans, as well as synergies with mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the outputs is the 2013 Cook Islands Climate Change Assessment Report.

In water security, ICI has also been leading in projects and programs promoting long term water security for all islands to cope with prolonged dry spells, and longer term climate impacts, strengthening sanitation infrastructure to address health and environmental risks on all islands, including risks related to climate change.

Cook Islands, however, is yet to progress in programs and projects that strengthen and adapt energy transportation, supply and storage systems in the outer islands to reduce risks to the communities. In view of strengthening economic development, Cook Islands have yet to invest in increasing the resilience in the tourism sector and reducing its vulnerability as well as reducing the ecological footprint and negative impact of hotels and resorts on the environment.

The Ministry of Agriculture are implementing projects that promote agricultural livelihood resilience and food security in the context of climate change with the view to attain a better prepared and more climate resilient island communities.

The Ministry of Health have also commenced on strengthening systems for preventative health care and research including on climate change impacts and adaptation. The expected result is the Cook Island Health care system recognises and prepares communities for the health impacts of changing climate and disease patterns.

The Ministry of Marine Resources are working with partners to carry out adaptation projects that strengthen and build resilience in the fisheries sector, with climate change considerations.  The goal is that the fisheries sector is resilient and be able to manage its fisheries and marine ecosystems to be able to adapt to climate change.

In the area of protecting and conserving the environment through an ecosystems based adaptation approach, the National Environment Services (NES) have been implementing climate change adaptation projects that improve the conservation and management of biodiversity in a changing climate. The idea is that growing and accelerating threats to biodiversity induced by climate change are understood and planned for.

Date updated: March 2016


Cook Islands National Energy Policy Vision 2005 is ‘working together with the people in building a better nation’. The Cook Islands Country Energy Security Indicator Profile 2009 shows 66,939 tonnes of CO2 of carbon footprint. This figure, however, is an indication of the total GHG emissions using embedded carbon as a measure(UNFCCC method). Based on Cook Islands 2nd national communication report in 2006, Cook Islands produced 55,075 tonnes CO2 .

The island nation boasts one of the highest rates of electrification (97%), access to modern energy in the rural areas (92%) and access to modern energy in the urban areas (100%) relative to the average rates of these benefits in Small Island States in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project (PIGGAREP) is the main climate change mitigation activity in the Pacific.  It is aimed at reducing the growth rate of GHG emissions from fossil fuel use through the widespread and cost effective use of their renewable (RE) resources in ten participating Pacific island countries including the Cooks.  It consists of various activities whose outputs contribute to the removal of the major barriers to the widespread utilization of RE technologies (RETs)[1].

The PIGGAREP activities identified for the Cook Islands include five (5) key on-going and parallel co-financing initiatives:

  • The Mangaia Power System Upgrade
  • The Rarotonga and Aitutaki Wind Power Development Project
  • The Pukapuka and Rakahanga Hybrid Projects
  • Biofuel Development Projects
  • The Schools Environment Awareness

Solar water heaters are well established and are found in nearly all the new housing and commercial buildings.

Solar photovoltaic installations for lighting, radio, water pumping, fish freezing and refrigeration are common in the outer islands but most have suffered from poor maintenance and post-installation support. On the other hand, Telecom has installed many PV generators, ranging from 600-7,800 peak watts (Wp) with excellent performance and high reliability due to the quality of installations and good maintenance, using well-trained staff.

A variety of wind power technologies have been installed in the Cook Islands, but have suffered from both inappropriate technical designs and the lack of expertise for post installation support.

Cook Islands continue to build its capacity to implement mitigation programs within government.  In 2011, a Renewable Energy Office was established under the Prime Minister’s office; the former Energy Office remains under the ICI and now looks only at electrical standards. The Energy Division deals with energy planning and policy, but staff devote more time to electrical inspections than energy. The Director usually reports to two ministers, with ministerial responsibilities related to energy scattered over a number of ministries with overlapping mandates.

For  adaptation projects, please go to: (add link to projects database)

For more information, go to: Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement Through Renewable Energy Project and Cook Islands 2012 Energy Profile, Reegle Clean Energy Search:

Date updated: March 2016

[1] The project is expected to bring about in the PICs: (1) Increased number of successful commercial RE applications; (2) Expanded market for RET applications; (3) Enhanced institutional capacity to design, implement and monitor RE projects; (4) Availability and accessibility of financing to existing and new RE projects; (5) Strengthened legal and regulatory structures in the energy and environmental sectors; and, (6) Increased awareness and knowledge on RE and RETs among key stakeholders.

Knowledge Management & Education

The Cook Islands Curriculum Framework (July 2002) establishes the policy for learning and assessment in all Cook Islands schools.  The official curriculum for science learning and teaching of Cook Islands Schools is the 2006 ‘Science in the Cook Islands Curriculum. Science is designated as one of the eight essential learning areas in the Curriculum Framework. The new Science Curriculum is modern in its approach in that it emphasises relevancy in learning and in application of learning.  Climate Change falls under one of four contextual strands of the curriculum, namely the Enua e te Rangi (Earth and Sky).

A number of ‘possible learning and assessment activities’ addressed within this context that are relevant to climate change include:

  • Doing a beach study to investigate the effects of storms, wave actions etc.
  • Investigating the debate on climate change.
  • On a map, mark in the ocean currents and prevailing winds and discuss with reference to migration across the Pacific.
  • Talk about the stories relating to the formation of your island and draw the landscape features on a map[1].

The National Environment Service provides services and information to school such as talks and awareness materials (videos and books).  It provides classroom talks and answers emails and faxes and covers key topics that include climate change, clean water, biodiversity, conservation and pollution.   The Met Office supplies weather data, maps, etc. and professional support for teachers developing weather based units and other resources on Climate Change[2]

Cook Island’s PACC project has also produced a number of knowledge management products designed specifically for knowledge management objectives.  This is to ensure that PACC generated knowledge and information assets are identified, captured, evaluated, retrieved, and shared.  The knowledge products generated out of the project for Cook Islands include:

  • Decision support tools for climate-resilient coastal development: A case study from the Cook Islands Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project. Apia, Samoa : SPREP, 2014
  • PACC Demonstration Guide: ‘Climate proofing’ coastal development on Mangaia Island, Cook Islands. Apia, Samoa : SPREP, 2015
  • COOK ISLANDS Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change PACC Country Brief
  • PACC Experiences No. 5: Reducing vulnerability of island coasts

For more information go to:   Please refer to the List of Publications, Links and References tabs for more direct links.

Date updated: March 2016

[1] Government of Cook Islands, Taieni — Science in the Cook Islands Curriculum, 2006.

[2] Ibid, 2006

The Cook Islands released their Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1999. This has since been followed with the Second National Communication Report (2011). The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions. Building on information gathered through this process, the Cook Islands worked in 2003 to integrate climate change adaptation into its National Sustainable Development Strategy. Sectoral reviews were undertaken and National Guidelines for Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change were prepared and adopted by Cabinet (ADB, 2005). 

Additionally, the Cook Islands' Joint National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation (JNAP) 2011- 2015 was completed in 2012. The Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation is a roadmap for building a resilient Cook Islands. The JNAP also helps to provide a more co-ordinated approach to dealing with disaster risk reduction and climate change issues by all agencies.[1]

To complement the JNAP, a recent report International Disaster Response Law (IDRL) in the Cook Islands: A study on legal preparedness for facilitating and regulating international disaster assistance (2012) was prepared to assist the Cook Islands Government in its commitment to strengthening its legal preparedness for international disaster response Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change. 

For more information: International Disaster Response Law (IDRL) in the Cook Islands: A study on legal preparedness for facilitating and regulating international disaster assistance. [2012]

Date updated: March 2016


Name of Partner (with Acronym)Description of partnerLink to partner website
Asian Development BankADB is a multilateral development finance institution dedicated to reducing poverty and improving living standards of people in Asia and the Pacific. It was established in 1966, currently comprising 67 members, mostly from the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)  


Provides the Australian and international communities with weather forecasts, warnings and observations for all areas of Australia, coastal waters areas, and high seas around Australia.
Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID)Australia’s aid program is guided by five core strategic goals: saving lives, opportunities for all, sustainable economic development, effective governance, and humanitarian and disaster response.
Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education – AustraliaHelps shape Australia’s future economy through skills, learning, discovery and innovation.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)The GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
Meteorological Service of New Zealand (MetService)New Zealand's national meteorological service, MetService produces and issues forecasts and official weather warnings on behalf of New Zealand's Ministry of Transport and is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research


A New Zealand Crown Research Institute whose mission is to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustainable management of natural resources for New Zealand and the planet.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)NOAA is a United States federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere.
Ocean and Islands Programme (OIP)    The Ocean and Islands Programme (OIP) provides vital applied ocean, island and coastal geoscience services to SPC member countries. These technical services are strategically deployed in response to member requests for assistance in the development, management and monitoring of natural resources and unique island environmental systems and processes.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate CentreThe Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre aims to reduce the vulnerability of people to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

SPC is an international organisation that works in public health, geoscience, agriculture, forestry, water resources, disaster management, fisheries, education (community, TVET, quality and standards for all school levels), statistics, transport, energy, ICT, media, human rights, gender, youth and culture to help Pacific Island people achieve sustainable development.


SPC’s members are the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories that are the beneficiaries of its services, along with four of the original founding countries.
Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)Promotes cooperation in the South Pacific region, protects and improves the South Pacific environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations.
Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF)Established to support adaptation and technology transfer in all developing country parties to the UNFCCC. The SCCF supports both long-term and short-term adaptation activities in water resources management, land management, agriculture, health, infrastructure development, fragile ecosystems, including mountainous ecosystems, and integrated coastal zone management.
The University of the South Pacific (USP)A public research university with a number of locations spread throughout a dozen countries in Oceania. It is an international centre for teaching and research on Pacific culture and environment.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone.
United Nations Institute for Training and Research Climate Change Capacity Development (UNITAR - C3D+)Seeks to improve the capacity of research and training institutions in developing countries to support climate change adaptation and mitigation action.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)USAID works in over 100 countries to: Promote broadly shared economic prosperity; Strengthen democracy and good governance; Protect human rights; Improve global health; Advance food security and agriculture; Improve environmental sustainability; Further education; Help societies prevent and recover from conflicts; and Provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.
World BankA United Nations specialised agency, the World Bank Group offers loans, advice, and an array of customized resources to more than 100 developing countries and countries in transition.
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)A specialised agency of the United Nations. Its purpose is to facilitate international cooperation in the establishment of networks of stations for making Meteorological, hydrological and other observations; and to promote the rapid exchange of meteorological information, the standardisation of meteorological observations and the uniform publication of observations and statistics.
World Wildlife Fund - Cook Islands (WWF)Cook Islands local office of international independent conservation body.

 “The Cook Islands are making moderate progress addressing climate change adaptation, primarily through participation in regional projects. The country may benefit from preparing a national climate change strategy in order to more systematically identify key vulnerabilities and to prioritize adaptation actions going forward. Adaptation activities within the areas of coastal zones, agriculture, water, fisheries, and other priority areas for the Cook Islands could be expanded. Moreover, gender considerations are not part of any current adaptation project or proposed strategy; these could be integrated into current and future proposals as appropriate.”[1]

Though many projects and policy frameworks have introduced participatory planning processes, mobilized communities, and have supported improved resource management and policy development at local and national government levels, they do not adequately integrate climate change risk considerations and adaptation responses. Adaptation implementation at the island level throughout the country is severely constrained by the pursuit of distinct, as opposed to an integrated national strategy for climate change, land degradation, disaster prevention, preparedness and management; shortage in resource and key national assets to systematically monitor changes from various actions that are taking place over time; limited understanding and monitoring of environment in health issues such as vector-borne, water quality, skin and respiratory problems; limited capacity to assess the impact of both technological and policy measures for climate-related concerns; and lack of adequate legislation covering key areas such as resource management, water supply, hazardous waste disposal, and sanitation (treatment and disposal of liquid and solid wastes).

The Second National Communication identifies several key gaps and constraints to successful adaptation to climate change in the Cook Islands. These have been identified as a result of numerous consultations with local stakeholders over a significant period of time, in particular since the Initial National Communication was prepared. The key gaps and constraints are:

  • Comprehensive vulnerability and adaptation assessments need to be completed for all Islands; this will improve understanding of the extent of island vulnerability and hazards and provide a basis for systemic action to manage climate change risks; increased awareness of the risks will occur if the assessments are undertaken using local systems and with engagement of local stakeholders and systems;
  • Capacity building around the implementation of climate change risks on renewable energy technologies is needed to ensure long-term operational effectiveness;
  • The national response to climate change should be better integrated into development processes, especially in terms of mainstreaming current and emerging climate issues into existing socio-economic projects, and into programmes and governance frameworks for future initiatives;
  • The financing of climate change risk management related activities and budget constraints are closely linked, and requires continued international assistance at the national level, with national participation;
  • Enforcement of climate policy and regulations in place to facilitate and promote behavioural adjustments towards risk management practices in the Cook Islands needs substantial improvement, within the capacity and capability of national human resources; and
  •  Land tenure issues which impede sustainable development require addressing at national and local levels. [2]

Date updated: March 2016

[1] Dohan, Rosemary; Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Hammill, Anne; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Pacific.” Adaptation Partnership / International Institute for Sustainable Development, p. 51.

[2] Adaptation Fund Proposal - Cook Islands - Resubmission Oct 2011.


The following references have been used to develop the country profile.  It is important to note that contributions are from local, regional and international agencies.  The profile is reviewed by the national focal point for accuracy.   We encourage you to contact the focal points if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.

  1. Government of Cook Islands, National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management 2009-2015
  2. ADB Strengthening Disaster Management and Mitigation, Volume 4 – Climate Change Considerations. 2006
  3. Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014). Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific: New Science and Updated Country Reports. Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program Technical Report, Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia
  4. Akairo Limited 1July 2013 Climate Change Policy Assessment Final Report
  5. Cook Islands Second National Communication Report to the UNFCCC
  6. Cook Islands NAMA Report
  7. Cook Islands INDC Report
  8. Kaveinga Tapapa Climate & Disaster Compatible Development Policy
  9. Te Kaveinga Nui – National Sustainable Development Plan
  10. Joint National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation (JNAP) 2011-2015
  11. Cook Islands National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management
  12. Taieni — Science in the Cook Islands Curriculum 2006, Government of Cook Islands
  13. Kaveinga Tapapa Climate & Disaster Compatible Development Policy
  14. Te Kaveinga Nui – National Sustainable Development Plan
  15. Joint National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation (JNAP) 2011-2015
  16. Cook Islands National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Management

Date updated: March 2016

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