Tokelau calls for more commitment from Pacific leaders and partners in climate change fight

By Lealaiauloto Aigaletaule’ale’a F. Tauafiafi

Tokelau’s titular head called on his 2018 class of Pacific Forum Leaders for “more stronger commitment”
against climate change at the Leaders’ Dialogue session yesterday in Nauru.

Ulu o Tokelau, Hon Afega Gaualofa at the 49th Pacific Leaders Forum in Nauru

Ulu o Tokelau, Hon. Afega Gaualofa reminded Leaders “that Climate Change continues to be the biggest
threat to our collective survival”, in particular, emphasized the disproportionate nature of the threat and its
two-fold impacts on smaller island countries who played no causal part in what is now threatening their

The first and obvious impact he pointed out, “Tokelau like many low-lying atoll nations are the most
vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

But secondly, climate change is also a security issue for countries and territories of the Pacific.

To counter both threats, the Ulu called for much stronger commitment from all, but especially on
development partners, to play bigger and better roles in addressing many of the security issues now at
because of climate change and its negative impacts.

In stressing the need to be proactive, he outlined Tokelau’s efforts in building resilience by not only forging
a closer partnership with New Zealand but also prioritizing climate change, a commitment that sees climate
change a formal component in its meager national budget.

He once again reminded leaders that Tokelau has put in place a Climate Change Strategy, LivC, in an effort
to address its nationally determined contributions.

“Of particular focus are around the three CRIPS, (1) focus on developing clean energy, low carbon
development policies, (ii) strengthening integrated risk reduction and adaptation measures, and (iii) human
development and capacity training, awareness and advocacy.”

Class of 2018-Pacific Leaders Forum, Nauru

Hosted by the Government of Nauru, the 49 th Forum Leaders meeting discussed important issues under the
theme: “Our Islands, our peoples, our will”. It continues the momentum of the Blue Pacific narrative as a
strategic focus for future advocacy and engagement.

So far, the 14 leaders present discussed an agenda that included a number of pressing issues around security,
economic development as well as addressing the global and existential threat of climate change.

Today, [Wednesday, 5 September] at their Leaders’ Retreat, the Biketawa Plus Declaration is expected to be
endorsed. It sets in place a new security framework that would lay strategic future responses as well as
recognizing an expanded concept of security that is inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance,
prioritizing of environment security and building cooperation in building resilience to climate change and

The new security framework also focuses on the new emerging security issue of cybersecurity.

The Forum meeting concludes today with the opening of the new surveillance plane that is part of Australia’s
development assistance supporting better management and monitoring of the Forum countries Exclusive
Economic Zones (EEZ). And in support of enhanced Marine Domain Awareness.

For more information contact: Seiuli Aleta, Acting General Manager, National | Email:

Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand. It is located in the Pacific Ocean north of Samoa
and south of the Equator (9 00 S, 172 00 W). It is only accessible by boat, taking an estimated 28hours to
reach the closest atoll, Fakaofo, a further three hours to Nukunonu, and another six hours to Atafu.

It is made up of the three small atolls named above, separated from each other by high seas. The total land
area is approximately 12 km². The total sea area of the exclusive economic zone is approximately 518,000
km². The height above sea level is between 3-5 meters, the maximum width is 200 meters. Tokelau is
therefore particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise.

The people of Tokelau are New Zealand citizens. Their relationship hailed by the United Nations as a model
for other territories and administering countries to follow.

The population of 1499 (2016 census) is spread approximately equally among the three atolls (Atafu (541);
Fakaofo (506) and Nukunonu (452). The traditional lifestyle was subsistence but Tokelau has moved to a
cash economy. The only natural resource of any current economic significance is the fishery of the exclusive
economic zone.

Tokelau has no main town; each island has its own administrative centre, hospital, school and basic
infrastructure. There are no airstrips or harbours. Access is by ship only, through the Port of Apia, Samoa.
There are approximately 7000 Tokelauans living in New Zealand, and smaller communities live in Australia,
American Samoa, Samoa, Rapa Nui, and Hawaii.