Tonga’s rate of sea level rise is reported to be increasing at nearly three times the global average of 3.22mm per year due to El Nino and climate change. By 2100, sea-level rise is expected to increase by 1.6m drowning some of the buildings in this small island.
The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) predicted Tonga’s vulnerability to sea level rise and found that areas up to 5 m above the sea level will be affected. This means 37-46% of the total population and about 14.1% of the total land area of the main island, Tongatapu, will be inundated.
The threat of climate change is immediate and real. It will also contaminate well and drinking water. In a developing nation with limited arable land, salinity of water which also deteriorates the quality of usable land will be severely affected.
In the latest National Strategic Policy Framework, Government has included the goal to “Integrate environmental sustainability and climate change into all planning and executing of programs.” The challenge is fully integrating this into policies and enforcement.