In 2005, Tonga completed its initial National Communication on Climate Change. This was approved by the Government of Tonga and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)Secretariat. One of the major capacity development needs mentioned in this report was to develop a national climate change policy. At that time, the Government of Tonga was aware of the importance of including environmental issues in its national strategic plan, even though climate change was not yet considered a national priority. A climate change policy was therefore developed to address these issues. It was certainly a major step forward, as it served to define the position, direction and responsibilities of the government and relevant stakeholders in Tonga on climate change, for both the short and long term. The policy was approved by His Majesty’s Cabinet in 2006.
In 2015, it was noted that there was a need to update the policy, given the increasing emphasis, nationally and globally, on climate change and disaster risk. Widespread consultation workshops were held towards this purpose, which involved all relevant stakeholders in Tonga, including government ministries, nongovernmental organisations, civil societies, statutory boards, women’s groups and youth groups. This revised climate change policy aims to build ‘a Resilient Tonga’ by 2035. It is recognised that this is an ambitious goal, as building resilience is very costly, even without considering the funds required for loss and damage due to climate change.