State of the Environment Report and the National Environment Management Strategy for Tonga

NUKU’ALOFA-May 17, 2018: 3.05pm (SPREP/Enviro News): The first ever workshop on the State of the Environment (SOE) report and the National Environment Management Strategy (NEMS) was completed earlier today at the Ministry of Tourism Conference Centre in Vaoloaloa, outside Nuku’alofa.

The meeting was earlier opened yesterday (May 16).

The meeting brought together 30 participants from various government organisations, private sectors and non-government organisations aims to discuss the national context and priorities for the environment with linkages to the national, regional and international commitments.

Participants discussing issues at the meeting. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

Tonga’s first NEMS report was developed in 1993. With new and emerging threats impacting biodiversity, the process of developing the SoE and review of the NEMS will be an important tool that will provide information on the status and trends of the environment and responses to improve environmental conditions.

“The SoE report will provide the basis for effective and sound planning and decision making. It provides information on environmental and social conditions, trends and pressures, including appropriate practical responses to improve environmental conditions,” Ms. Atelaite Lupe Matoto, Director of Environment here in Tonga, said.

One of the core functions of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is to assist Member countries to develop, review and update the SOE and NEMS. This review process is being carried out in several Pacific Island Countries including Tonga funded under the ACP MEAs, Capacity building programme for the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements in the African, Caribbean and Pacific regions.

The meeting also introduced the regional UNEP-GEF Inform Project which is establishing national environmental data portal and reporting tools to support planning and decision making in 14 Pacific island countries. The portal will complement and support the SoE and NEMS processes for Tonga.

“SoE and NEMS can be an effective system for reporting against national priorities as well as in reporting to international and regional commitments such those for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), SAMOA Pathway, the Paris Agreement and others,” Ms. Easter Galuvao, SPREP Director of the Environmental Governance and Monitoring Programme, said.

Tonga Tourism and SPREP discussing issues at the meeting today. Photo: ENVIRO NEWS

“Through this programme we connect the environmental planning and management at country level, with the implementation of global frameworks such as MEAs related to Biodiversity and chemicals and waste,” Ms. Raphaelle Vignol, Program Manager of the UN Environment, added.

The meeting concluded with an implementation plan to guide the process for the preparation of the SoE and NEMS for Tonga.

The workshop was hosted by the Tonga Department of Environment, Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) with technical assistance from SPREP.

Funding was provided from the European Union-funded ACP MEA 2 Capacity Building Project as well as the GEF funded regional Inform Project implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP.

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