Tonga - government
COP23, Bonn, Germany – Reducing the risks from climate change and disasters would be futile if it does not reduce the risks to those who are most disproportionately impacted.
“Climate change and disasters threaten core human rights and prioritizing those most impacted by disasters and climate change must be the priority of all decision makers,” said the Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation for the Fijian Government.
She added, “as such gender and ‘protection’ must be central to any activity which relates to climate change and/or disasters.”
“The Protection in the Pacific Network (PROPA) is one of the networks that helps Pacific Island countries to better understand and address these issues”. The PROPA is an inter-government network consisting of Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The network works towards the integration of gender and social inclusion in climate change and disaster risk management and resilient development.
Tonga as a founding member of the network represented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs was able to join the event hosted by UNDP in COP23. Its delegation led by Chief Executive Officer of MEIDECCC Mr. Paula Ma’u attended the event together with the Tonga delegation. This demonstrates Tonga’s commitments to centralizing gender and protection in climate action and also its commitments to the COP23 agenda and the Paris Agreement.
Although the PROPA network is still in its early stages it has already made significant progress in the Pacific in helping to make gender and protection central not only to climate change but also for risk-informing development”.
“It also provides us a safe space for learning and improving our own ability to deal with these issues in the Pacific”, said Director Dorosday of the Department of Women’s Affairs in Vanuatu.
“Through the PROPA network we are now able to influence regional policy also”, added Mr. Samuela Pohiva of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tonga, who was one of the panelists on behalf of Tonga at this important event. Tonga’s head of delegation, Mr. Paula Ma’u asserted he is glad that Mr. Pohiva participated well at the event for Tonga and demonstrating at the same time high level of enthusiasm and understanding from youth on the adverse impact of climate change.
A representative from the Forum Secretariat thanked the PROPA network for their contribution to the new Framework for Resilience Development in the Pacific (FRDP). The network had helped draft one of the fundamental principles of the FRDP on gender and protection.
Australian government Ambassador for the Environment Mr. Patrick Suckling made the opening remarks for the side event. Hon. Vuniwaqa and representatives from Vanuatu, Tonga and the Forum Secretariat were speaking at a side event titled: The Centrality of Gender and Protection for Climate Action in the Pacific in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pavilion at the meeting of the twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) based on experiences through the UNDP Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP).
In wrapping up the event, Mr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit with UNDP reiterated the need for better gender and protection integration.
“The centrality of gender and protection helps us take a more human development perspective for climate change adaptation.”
“The PROPA network highlights the power of countries coming together and serves a great purpose in the Pacific”.
The PROPA network is supported by the UNDP Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) and the Australian Government and works across Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.