Outer Islands Private Sector Forum on the GREEN CLIMATE FUND commences in Vava’u Friday, 17th of June 2022

Group Photo: Stakeholders in attendance with TCCI and GCF-Readiness project staff at FWC Fakamelino Hall

The Department of Climate Change of the Ministry of MEIDECC – Tonga’s National Designated Authority (NDA) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – through ongoing partnership with the Tonga Chamber of Commerce & Industry (TCCI) is conducting a series of workshops aimed at sensitizing outer islands-based micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to climate financing. The first session was held with stakeholders in Vava’u at the Free Wesleyan Church’s Fakamelino Hall in Neiafu, and was facilitated with the GCF-supported Private Sector Readiness Programme Management Unit.

TCCI President Mr. Sam Vea delivering the Opening Remarks

TCCI President Mr. Sam Vea welcomed both formal and informal business owners across tourism, agriculture, fisheries, transport and waste sectors as well as representatives of village councils and government ministries at last Friday’s Forum.

Programme Manager Ms. Carrie Vaea and Assistant Mr. Pohiva Malu

Ms. Carrie Vaea, Programme Manager, touched on activities undertaken to formulate three major project ideas with Private Sector focal points before the ‘Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai’ Disaster that occurred on January 15th and was followed by the country’s first wave of Covid-19 cases. These concepts, pending NDA approval to the national pipeline, continue to highlight the need for integrated agriculture production, a sustainable transportation system, and climate-responsive tourism industry – all contributing to Tonga’s Nationally Determined Contributions as party to the UNFCCC and its Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management (JNAP) by 2035.

DCC’s Coordinator Ms. Elizabeth ‘Akau’ola then presented on the Country Programming process for tapping into the GCF as well as the current and expected interventions, including to improve food security within the fisheries sector and enhance community resilience by leveraging climate change funding at the subnational level.

She emphasized the MSME Pilot Programme’s objective, of which at least half of a total USD 200 million contribution will be allocated to Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States in the Pacific, to recognize diverse MSME conditions and test proper business models to ensure measurable impact on the ground.

Climate Change Policy Officer Ms. Frances Satini also elaborated on the NDA’s ‘No Objection Procedure’ for channelling project ideas through the right authorities including accredited entities to assist with the submission of quality concept notes and proposals to the GCF. She enforced that every project proponent must attain a ‘No Objection Letter’ from the NDA focal point, CEO for MEIDECC Mr. Paula Ma’u, and align with national climate change strategies that promote country ownership.

The Tourism Sector Group Discussion

Finally, participants were divided into groups by sector and discussed the particular vulnerability of livelihoods experienced in Vava’u directly and indirectly caused by drastic changes in climate such as the abnormal growth of oysters in pearl farms and the exhausted vegetation including vanilla and kava plantations as well as botanical gardens.

Coordinator Ms. ‘Akau’ola and Policy Officer Ms. Satini with DCC Vava’u OICs Ms. Malia ‘Avala and Ms. Vasiti Tulikihakau

The Forum concluded with a Q&A session where the team addressed GCF procedures and timelines, given that Tonga lacks technical expertise to conduct necessary feasibility studies. Inspiring words from businessman Mr. Tomifa Paea ended the day on a successful note, pushing for a collective effort to accessing funding opportunities to sustain economic and climate resilience development in not only Vava’u but Tonga as a whole. As the Meteorological Centre predicts a rainy forecast in the next two weeks, the NDA Readiness Unit plans to conduct similar workshops with Private Sector stakeholders in Ha’apai on July 1st and ‘Eua on July 15th if weather permits. -END