Agencies Responsible – Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MECC) (formerly the Department of Environment) is the coordinating agency for climate change. The institutional framework for climate change though is vague, due both to overlapping responsibilities among Government agencies, and also to very old legislation that is still providing the legal framework for current and emerging environmental problems whose provisions are inadequate to address climate change impacts and adaptation. The recent establishment (2009) of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change may provide the platform for the review and development of climate change policies and ensure consistency with national development policies.
Disaster Risk Management
The National Emergency Management Office is responsible for the coordination of DRM capacity building activities in Tonga and has this responsibility through the National Emergency Management Plan and the Emergency Management Act 2007.
The World Bank assisted Tonga to develop the Act and Plan under the Cyclone Emergency Recovery Project which was incepted following Tropical Cyclone Waka in 2002. The Act establishes the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and its functions at the national, district (including the major outer islands groupings) and community levels (village level). NEMO however, has yet to coordinate and implement some of these functions. Similarly, NEMO’s capacity to implement its National Emergency Plan is limited.
Both the Emergency Act and the Emergency Plan address risk reduction as a function of the NEMO with application only in terms of natural disasters. This function however, is limited to preparedness planning and response planning for natural hazards. Reducing risks of natural disasters on national development are the responsibilities of agencies such as Agriculture and Fisheries, Transport, Works, Health, Tourism, Environment, Commerce and Trade and others. NEMO have a marginal role in coordinating/planning or in the actual implementation of risk reduction initiatives.