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Sione Fulival


Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) Represented by

Sione Fulival

Principal Climate Finance Analyst
Sione has closely followed the development of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) since its creation was announced at the 2010 Conference of the Parties in Cancún, Mexico. He is Tonga’s lead climate finance analyst at the MEIDECC—a role he has held for the past eight years. 

Share with us a game-changer programme that GCF could fund in Tonga that would represent a paradigm shift?

Capacity retention and supplementation. I say this because as a small island we have a small pool of human resources to draw from to carry out the paradigm shifting projects that we want to undertake. If your climate change department consists of only a few people, and you have a dozen development partners wanting to implement projects, you arrive at a point where it is difficult to prioritize because every project becomes a priority.

Tonga loses a significant amount of expertise to some of the regional bodies focused on climate change. On one hand, it is good for the region but it does impact what we can do domestically. For us to effectively and efficiently produce tangible projects, qualified people are essential. We are hoping that through the GCF Readiness programme we will be able to supplement and strengthen our capacity in both the short- and long-term.

What are the major challenges and opportunities in implementing the Paris Agreement in Tonga?

A significant challenge for Tonga strikes at my earlier point on capacity. We are in the early stages of developing an implementation plan for our intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) but we lack the necessary hands to help gather the data, interpret the information collected, and put it down into a document that we can collaborate around.

Given the capacity constraints across the entire Pacific Island region, south-south cooperation is essential, including the sharing of information, such as best practices.

How do you foster effective partnerships?

Communication is key, and the speed in which information gets delivered to your relevant partners. When it comes to coordination, we have been very strategic in establishing national coordination mechanisms to heighten the level of effectiveness in the delivery of projects and sharing of information.

We also use technology to ensure everyone is kept abreast of important developments. We use cloud applications to keep our diplomatic missions informed of our climate change work and to ensure linkages are made. I am regularly posting updates on Tonga’s interactions with GCF and climate finance in general.

What are some of the innovative ways to engage communities and other local stakeholders in decision-making processes?

Tonga has adopted a bottom-up and top-down approach to engage all stakeholders. We established a Joint National Action Plan Taskforce for Climate Change and Disaster Management, with membership from all sectors of government, all nongovernmental organizations that work in these two fields, and all district officers who are representatives of the communities. The taskforce comes together on a “as needed basis”, and we have met on several occasions to focus on GCF.

One thing that our communities don’t like is too many consultations. In the past, different government departments were going to the outer islands to deliver the same information. This resulted in communities losing interest and disengaging. Our current approach is focused on an inclusive process and having representatives of the four main island groups attend taskforce meetings. When it comes to the communities themselves, we look at the specific priorities for that island group. If a taskforce member needs to visit a community, we ensure they have the necessary background to keep the interaction focused and strategic.

Associated link

Tonga INDC submission