Mr. Sione Akauola
Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information,
Disaster Management, Environment, Climate 
Change and Communication (MEIDECC)
[email protected] 

Ms. Lu’isa Tu’iafitu Malolo
Director Climate Change
Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information,
Disaster Management, Environment, Climate 
Change and Communication (MEIDECC)
[email protected]
PO Box 917
Nuku'alofa, Tonga
Tel: +676 28439 or 26514
Fax: +676 25051

Mr. ‘Ofa Fa’anunu
Director of Meteorology
Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information,
Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change
and Communication (MEIDECC)
P O Box 845
Nukualofa, Tonga  

Date updated: April 2024

 Country Overview

Capital: Nuku’alofa
Land: 688 sq km
EEZ: 700,000 sq km
Population: 101,991 (2006)
Language: English, Tongan
Currency: Pa’anga
Economy: Agriculture

The Kingdom of Tonga consists of over 175 named islands spread between latitudes 15° and 23°30” south and longitudes 173° and 177° west in the South Pacific Ocean (Figure 1). The total land area is 747 km2 while the sea  area extends over about 397,000 km2. The population of approximately 106,000 lives on 43 of the islands with a total land area of 649 km2. Tongatapu is the most populous island, with population of 75,416 (2011 census). By 2030, this is projected to increase by 19%, to just over 90,000.

Tongan society has been ruled by a monarchy since the 10th century AD. The King is at the top of the social

pyramid, with nobles in the middle and often the highest rank in their village and estate. Commoners are at the bottom of the social pyramid. This structure has remained mostly unchanged through the centuries, except for the recent emergence of a new elite class of educated and business people, earning the same social status and privileges as nobles.

The establishment of the Constitution in 1875 was a landmark change for commoners as it gave them the rights to own and inherit land. The Constitution also formally established traditional chiefs as estate owners and they were expected to grant land from their estate to their subjects for dwelling and farming purposes. In return, commoners were expected to use their land productively to fulfil their obligations.

Since June 2013, Tonga moved from a lower middle to upper middle-income bracket, with a nominal GDP

per  capita  for  2013/14  of  about  $7,636  or  about  US$3,800.  Because of Tonga's large receipts of

remittances,  running  at  over  20%  of  GDP,  Gross  National  Income  (GNI)  per  capita  (about  US$4,500  in 2013) is a better measure of the actual income going to Tongans.  Since 2005 Tonga’s GNI per capita has grown considerably faster than the average for the region, increasing from about the same as the regional

average to 35 percent greater. However, these figures are average figures for Tonga and do not give a clear indication of distribution or inequality. The latest Household Income Expenditure Survey (HIES)  of 2009 indicates an increase in the percentage of the population living below the poverty line increasing to22.5 percent compared to 16.2 percent in the 2001 HIES. The increase was greatest on the outer islands increasing from 11.8 to 22.9 percent.


Date updated: March 2016  

Current Climate

Tonga’s annual and November–April mean temperatures have increased at Nuku’alofa since 1949. Trends  in Nuku’alofa annual maximum temperature and November–April maximum and minimum temperature are also positive. This is consistent with global warming.

The annual and half-year rainfall trends how little change at Nuku’alofa and Lupepau’u with the exception of Lupepau’u May–October rainfall which has increased since 1947. Extreme daily rainfall trends show little change at Nuku’alofa since 1971 and Lupepau’u since 1947.

Tropical cyclones affect Tonga mainly between November and April. An average of 20 cyclones per decade developed within or crossed the Tonga Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the 1969/70 to 2010/11 seasons. Nineteen of the 55 tropical cyclones (35%) between the 1981/82 and 2010/11 seasons were severe events (Category 3 or stronger) in the Tonga EEZ.

Wind-waves around Tonga do not vary substantially in height throughout the year. Seasonally, waves are influenced by the trade winds and tropical storms, and display variability on interannual time scales with the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Southern Annular Mode (SAM).

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 for Tonga indicate:

  • 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;
  • It is not clear whether mean annual rainfall will increase or decrease and the model average indicates little change (low confidence in this model average), with more extreme rain events(high confidence);
  • Drought frequency is projected to decrease slightly (low confidence);
  • Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence);
  • The risk of coral bleaching will increase in the future (very high confidence);
  • Sea level will continue to rise(very high confidence); and
  • December–March wave heights and periods are projected to decrease slightly (low confidence).

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

For more information, go to

Date updated: March 2016  


Tonga developed and adopted its National Climate Change Policy in 2006, followed by the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.  The Ministry was later expanded to Ministry of Environment, Energy, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Meteorology, Information and Communication (MEIDECC). The responsibility of the Climate Change Division was manage the effect of climate change on the environment, working in effective partnerships with the other seven departments of the Ministry. 

The Government  has  consolidated  MEIDECC  as  the  vehicle  to  step  up  its  ambition  and  mobilizing  climate financing  and  resourcing  including  recurrent  (local),  national  (economy  wide)  or  transnational financing.  The government recently completed the 2015 Climate Financing and Risk Governance Assessment that recommended short to medium initiatives to implement Tonga’s climate action plans, financing and resource mobilization.

The Government recently launched its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) that it aims to strategically guide Tonga towards a low emission and scaled up investment in climate resilient development. To support this framework, Tonga plans to launch its revised climate change policy and raised  climate  change  to Ministerial  level. It established the Legislative  Assembly  Standing  Committee  for  Climate  Change, and is currently revising the  Joint  National  Action  Plan  to  Integrate Climate  Change  and  Disaster  Risk  Reduction,  and  development  of  the  third  Climate  Change  National Communication.

For more information, go to: Tonga’s INDC.

It is important to note that for Tonga, the overall strategic framework guiding a low carbon development is the Tongan Strategic Development Framework 2015-2025.  The theme is Tonga:  Enhancing  Our Inheritance and presents the  country’s  new development framework.  TSDF sets one of its seven  Goal  to  commit  the  Kingdom  to ‘a more  inclusive, sustainable  and effective  land  administration, environment management, and resilience to climate and risk’ and  identifies the high level societal results required to improve the quality of life of Tongan citizens which include inter alia:

  1. Informing all national stakeholders and development partners of the broad Organisational Outcomes that are needed to support the country’s National Outcomes and Impact;
  2. Guides  the  formulation  of  sector  plans,  MDA  corporate  plans  and  the  medium  term  budgetary framework (MTBF) through which resources are allocated;
  3. Guides the development of Government external economic relations and the country strategies and assistance programs of development partners;
  4. Provides indicators, with targets, to facilitate monitoring and measurement our high level progress.

The TSDF 2015-2025 is designed to achieve the desired national impact of a “A more progressive Tonga supporting a higher quality of life for all.”

Date updated: March 2016  

National Climate Change Priorities

Within the national response context adopting the TSDF 2015-2025 the framework for building resilience to climate change in Tonga will use the new Climate Change Policy (2015-2020).

The purpose of the new Tonga Climate Change Policy is to provide a clear vision, goal, and objectives to direct responses to climate change and disaster risk reduction over the next five years. The policy, and the associated, soon to be revised, Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management (JNAP). The Climate Change Policy is not intended to replace or duplicate sector specific policies and plans. Rather, it is intended to provide an overarching context and guiding framework with policy objectives that for the most part will require multi-sectoral coordination.

The overall focus is towards the goal of  ‘A Resilient Tonga’, aimed at achieving outcomes that are realised more widely than  can  be achieved  through  a  more conventional, compartmentalised  approach.  Rather than address climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction in a fragmented manner, a holistic approach is taken to build resilience.  There are five action areas:

  1. Mainstreaming  for  a  Resilient  Tonga  –  To  fully  mainstream  the  goal  of  a  Resilient  Tonga  into government legislation, policies, and planning at all levels;
  2. Research,  Monitoring,  Management  of  Data,  and  Information  –  To  implement  a  coordinated approach to the collection, monitoring, management and use of all relevant data and information; and to develop a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to research for building a Resilient Tonga;
  3. Resilience  Building  Response  Capability  –  To  develop  the  capability  for  resilience  building responses throughout government, the private sector, and civil society;
  4. Resilience Building Actions – To implement actions that are designed towards the building of a
  5. Resilient Tonga by 2035 at national, island, and community level;
  6. Finance – To implement actions that are designed towards the building of a Resilient Tonga by 2035 at national, island, and community level.

Date updated: March 2016  


Second National Communications Adaptation Needs

Under the obligations assigned to parties under the UNFCCC, Tonga submitted its first national communication report in May 2005 and the second national communication (SNC) report in 2012.   The SNC report re-affirms Tonga’s national response to climate change impacts and disaster risks through the JNAP 2010-2015.

The key priority adaptation needs outlined in the SNC are listed in sectors as follows:


Adaptation Needs

Level of technical and economic feasibility; Level of cultural, social, and environmental acceptability


Expansion of rainwater collection schemes


Better administration of water resources and supply

High at all levels

Leakage control


Consumer education and awareness

High but medium cultural and social levels of acceptability

Pricing policy

High but medium cultural and social level of acceptability

Groundwater protection measures through land use planning and water reserves and non-polluting sanitation systems

High but medium cultural and social level of acceptability



Adaptation Needs



Against Climate impact of:


warmer temperatures and higher rainfall

Promote conservative cultivation such as minimum tillage, green tillage, vegetative mulching, etc.

Promote the use of bush fallow, planted legume fallow, etc.

Promote conservative input of the correct mineral fertilizer at the right amount in combination with appropriate organic fertilizer

Promote conservation cultivations of contour boundary hedgerows, terracing, mulching, green tillage, planted fallow, etc.

Promote alternative local species/ varieties or breeds

Promote introduction of exotic varieties or breeds suitable for the more humid warmer climates

Promote integrated pest management strategies with resistant varieties, biological

controls, cultural methods

Promote the conservative use of the correct pesticides, at the right amount, number of application, etc., as the last resort

Against higher sea levels

Promote coastal buffer zones such as planting of mangroves, etc, at a larger width on the low lying coastal sides of Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Vava’u, Ha’apai and the Niuas

Promote selection or introduction of salt tolerant species of food or economic value such as beetroot, etc., for production in these areas.

Migrate coastal populations inland if land is available

Against lower rainfall and sporadic events

Promote conservation agriculture of minimum tillage, prolong fallow, planted fallow, vegetative mulch, green cultivation, etc. to increasing the water holding capacity of these soils

Against frequent and intense cyclones and


Promote traditional farming methods of mixed and rotation cultivation of different ground and tree crop species/ varieties. Ground crops are vulnerable to droughts whereas tree crops are vulnerable to cyclones.



Discourage the mono-cropping system adopted widely at this point in time.

Coastal Areas

Against SLR



In low lying coastal communities in Tonga


*Formulate integrated coastal management plan

*Install tide gauge & GPS in Ha’apai

*climate proof planning, design, decision making on every development on the coast

*integrate climate change issues and disaster risks into Environment Impact Assessment Process

*Conduct LIDAR survey on coastal erosion of Tongatapu & Ha’apai

*Conduct coastal feasibility studies and design of most appropriate measures to

vulnerable communities on the coast

*Promote coastal reforestation and afforestation

*Awareness raising to all levels in Tonga regarding climate change and disaster impacts

Against events of heavy rainfall


In low lying coastal communities in Tonga


In village communities

with steep topography

impacting on nearby coastal

environments (e.g. Tefisi,

‘Utulei, Longomapu)

*Proper road drainage to be in place

*climate proof all infrastructural development both inland and coastal areas.

*Formulate land use policy

*Awareness-raising to all levels in Tonga regarding climate change and disaster impacts.

Tropical cyclone and storm surge


In low lying coastal areas in Tonga


*climate proof the building code


*promote coastal reforestation and afforestation

*formulate insurance policy

*awareness raising to all levels in Tonga regarding climate change and disaster impacts


Temperature increase


In all island groups in Tonga

*use appropriate tools for assessing climate change impacts on fisheries and coral reefs

*integrate climate change issues into Fisheries Management Plan

*Monitor changes by climate change to Fisheries Sector

*Public awareness programme



In all island groups in Tonga


*use appropriate tools for assessing climate change impacts on fisheries and coral reefs

*integrate climate change issues into Fisheries Management Plan

*Monitor changes by climate change to Fisheries Sector

*Public awareness programmes

Human Health

Increase rainfall


In flood prone areas

*Effective epidemiological surveillance of dengue is crucial to disease control. 

*Better knowledge of the natural history of the  disease,  epidemiological  surveillance should activate vector control activities and guide their implementation and evaluation

*Awareness programmes on climate change, its impacts on human health and adaptation options to these impacts.

*Great care with water storage

*Eradicate mosquitoes breeding grounds

Increase temperatures

In all of Tonga

*Increase health education and public awareness on how to adequately adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Increase in sea level


In low lying coastal areas where impact is severe

Education and awareness programmes on climate change impacts and adaptation measures to minimize impacts

(Source: SNC Report, Government of Tonga 2012)

Joint National Action Plan

Tonga was the first country in the Pacific to have developed a Joint National Action Plan (JNAP) on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.  The JNAP 2010–2015 comprises six priority goals:

  1. Improved good governance for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management (mainstreaming, decision making, organizational and institutional policy frameworks)
  2. Enhanced technical knowledge base, information, education and understanding of climate change adaptation and effective disaster risk management
  3. Analysis and assessments of vulnerability to climate change impacts and disaster risks
  4. Enhanced community preparedness and resilience to impacts of all disasters
  5. Technically reliable, economically affordable and environmentally sound energy to support the sustainable development of the Kingdom
  6. Strong partnerships, cooperation and collaboration within government agencies and with Civil Societies, Non-Government Organizations and the Private Sectors

Tonga proposes the Green Climate Fund to help address objectives of goals 1-3 and 6 of the JNAP.  These objectives are as follows:


1. Improved  good  governance  for  climate  change  adaptation  and  disaster  risk  management

(Mainstreaming, decision making, organizational and institutional policy frameworks).


  • Develop an enabling policy and  capacity to strengthen planning and decision making processes with the incorporation of relevant climate change and disaster risk management considerations
  • Strengthen  institutional  arrangements  and  capacity  for  climate  change  and  disaster  risk  management  in Vava’u, Ha'ápai, Éua and in the Niuas
  • Strong institutional arrangements for climate change and disaster risk management
  • Climate change and disaster risk management mainstreamed into planning, decision making and budgetary
  • Processes

2. Enhanced technical knowledge base, information, education and understanding of climate change adaptation and effective disaster risk management.


  • Improve science and technical knowledge base within key government agencies
  • Increase relevant education and community awareness programmes
  • Strengthen evidence base decision and policy making through use of relevant and updated information


  • Increased and more comprehensive understanding of climate change and disaster risk
  • Smart and effective use of ICT for climate change and disaster risk management information management
  • Improve capacity for climate change projection and applications on development planning

3. Analysis and assessments of vulnerability to climate change impacts and disaster risks

  • Implement appropriate coastal protections systems
  • Improve fisheries management in view of climate change
  • Strengthen community based capacity in vulnerability and analysis
  • Assess water resources and supply capacity in capitals 
  • Assess impact of climate change on vector borne diseases
  • Protection of coastal areas along the most vulnerable low lying areas and agricultural land
  • Rational data and information on disaster occurrence and climate change impacts will be available for Tonga
  • Reduction of underlying risk factors
  • Adequate supply of marine sea foods
  • Effective plant rehabilitation at coastal areas
  • Establishment of vector control unit

6. Strong  partnerships,  cooperation  and  collaboration  within  government  agencies  and  with  civil societies and NGOs


  • Value of civil societies, NGOs and private sector contributions
  • Engage civil societies and NGOs in implementation of the community based component of the JNAP
  • Better coordination of all stakeholders
  • Enhanced participation in CCA and DRM

For more information, go to:  [Links to Tonga JNAP file and Tonga’s SNC 2012 docs coming soon]

Date updated: March 2016  


Tonga,  like other SIDS,  makes a negligible contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, with low per capita emissions of  2.95    tCO2e, and total emissions of  300.54Gg  CO2e  (2006 data). When land use and forestry is taken into account, Tonga is a net carbon sink, with its forests absorbing substantially more greenhouse gas emissions than is emitted through all other sources. Nonetheless, as a country with much at stake in regard  to  climate change  and variability  and natural hazards,  Tonga  is strongly committed to climate change mitigation. Its  primary focus on poverty alleviation and climate resilient development has many co-benefits in the area of mitigation.

The 2006 GHG Inventory for Tonga shows that the energy sector with transport (primarily land based transport) then electricity generation as the highest sources of emissions, followed by the agriculture and waste sectors. Within land use change and forestry, forest and grassland  conversion of biomass  represents a source of slightly  larger  magnitude  than  energy  industries  and  transport  combined.  However  this  is  offset  by removals from forests, making Tonga a net carbon sink overall, in the order of 1691.97 Gg CO2e.

Thus the reduction of emissions from the energy sector, and the maintenance of Tonga’s forest resources and preservation of forest ecosystem services for a climate resilient future should be the primary focus of mitigation actions into the future.

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

Tonga’s mitigation contributions per INDC submitted to UNFCCC in October 2015 is for the contribution years 2020, 2030 and implementation period 2015-2030.  Details are:

Type and level of contribution:

Tonga’s contribution is  50% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020. In 2015 renewable energy accounts for approximately 9% of total electricity generation, with confirmed and funded investments taking this to 13% in 2016 . Tonga’s contributions will also include the following:

  • 70% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030
  • Improve  Energy  efficiency  through  reduction  of  electricity  Line losses to 9 percent by 2020 (from a baseline of 18 percent in 2010)
  • To double the 2015 number of Marine Protected Areas by 2030
  • Sector  Emission  Reduction  Targets:  Transport,  Agriculture, Environment Friendly Waste Management and Reforestation
  • Other  Sectors  Climate  Resilience:  Public  Infrastructures foreshore protection, buildings and houses

Emissions  reduction  benefits  of  these  activities  have  not  yet  been  estimated; however  additional  emissions  reductions  delivered  through  these  activities  may be substituted for electricity sector contributions.

Estimated quantified emissions impact: In 2006 electricity generation contributed 40 Gg CO2e as an emissions source. The Tonga Energy Roadmap  Business  as Usual forecast predicts a 35% increase in diesel  consumption  for  electricity  generation  from  2006-2020,  assuming continued  economic and population growth, increasing electricity access to 100%, and no GHG abatement measures. A 50% renewable energy contribution in 2020 would equate to a reduction of 9.4 million litres of diesel per annum, or approximately 27 Gg CO2e.



Energy - Electricity (23% of 2006 emissions), Transport, Agriculture, Waste



Carbon dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); Nitrous oxide (N2O)



Whole country

Date updated: March 2016   

Knowledge Management & Education

Tonga’s 2010-2015 JNAP second goal states ‘enhanced technical knowledge base, information, education and understanding of climate change adaptation and effective disaster risk management’.  Tonga continues to take a project-based approach to incorporating climate change into education due to lack of funding and capacity.  The strategies that Tonga plans to improve this development front is to (i) Improve science and technical knowledge base within key government agencies, (ii) increase  relevant  education  and community awareness programmes; and (iii) strengthen  evidence  base  decision  and policy making through use of relevant and updated information.  The projected outcomes are as follows:

  • Increased and more comprehensive understanding of climate change and disaster risk.
  • Smart and effective use of ICT for climate change and disaster risk management information management
  • Improve capacity for climate change projection and applications on development planning.

Importantly, the need for learning and education systems that be set up at the community level is a priority that is required to be addressed at the same time that climate change is required to be incorporated into the education system.  Education priorities identified by communities in their community development plans for example are wide ranging.  They range from early childhood  education programs  to  needs  for classrooms,  school  materials,  school  house  for  preschool and high standard classrooms. There is a need for systems that address disputes between school and breaking of the law by youth and students alike. Accommodation for teachers including school houses is required. There are no night class opportunities. There is a need for primary school buildings where the existing ones are in poor condition and other communities, the whole school is in  poor  standards,  including  the  infrastructure,  and  school  materials  at  all  levels – kindergarten, primary and secondary. School transportation is a frequent request and need identified by 75% of communities  in  their  CDPs  as  one  of  the  key  requirements  for  the  young  and  the  village  youth.

These needs link to the need for improved road infrastructure resulting from tropical cyclone and severe coastal erosion from tidal surges and poor maintenance systems.

Source: Community Development Plans from thirty nine (39) villages of Vava’u Island Group, Tonga., Ministry of Internal Affairs, Government of Tonga.

Date updated: March 2016  


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 country contacts (focal points) if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.

  1. 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
  2. Tonga. Second National Communication Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. MEIDECC, 2012
  3. Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management 2010-2015
  4. Tonga Strategic Development Framework 2015-2025 (TSDF II)
  5. Climate Finance Risks Governance Assessment, September 2015
  6. Ministry of Internal Affairs, 2015. Vava’u Community Development Plans.
  7. Tonga Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, October 2015
  9. Prime Minister’s Office website:

Date updated: March 2016   

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