The Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (TCCI) Green Climate Fund Private Sector Readiness Program held a Forum on Friday the 26th of November 29, 2021 at Liku’ Alofa. A gathering that was well attended by members of the Private Sector and Government representing varying industries from tourism, agriculture, transport, energy, infrastructure, fisheries, and finance. The forum was a major step in encouraging the private sector to produce climate related investment ideas and also work collaboratively.
Mr Sam Vea, Vice President of TCCI welcomed the guests and Falati Papani blessed the day ahead. Ms Carrie Vaea, the Program Manager presented the outline of the forum and how the day’s events would be carried out.
The first presentation was delivered by Ms Luisa Tuiafitu Malolo, Director of Climate Change Department – MEIDECC . Referring to Tonga’s Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management (JNAP2, 2018-2022) – “Building a Resilient Tonga by 2035”.
Ms Malolo directed the forum towards GCF funding that is specifically for the Private Sector and acknowledged that there are “capacity gaps in achieving Tonga’s resilient goals”. She commended the organising of such forums that play a major role in keeping the private sector engaged and up to date with the GCF. She further advised that the Department of Climate Change will coordinate activities between the private sector, government, NGO’s and church organizations to ensure that ideas are strategic and not duplicated.
Ms Malini Teulilo, the Project Development Officer explained the timeline over the next 9 months. At the end of which project ideas that have been agreed on will be developed into concept notes, submitted and reviewed by the National Designated Authority and Accredited Entity before being delivered to the GCF. She also elaborated on how the private sector will be kept in the loop through such gatherings as the forum, workshops and other channels such the internet, TV and Radio.
Ms Elisabeth Akauola, National Project Coordinator GCF Tonga Readiness Programme – MEIDECC, shared some of the currently developing Project Concept Notes & Proposals from Tonga that will be submitted to the GCF. The forum attendees drew inspiration from these then gathered in groups from their respective sectors to discuss their own group ideas. After the discussions, each sector got to present their initial ideas to combat their challenges.
The attendees grouped themselves according to the sector they represent to draft initial ideas on how to solve their issues.
After each sector got to share their ideas, Ms Frances Satini the Climate Change Policy Officer – MEIDECC, took the floor to explain about the No Objection Procedure or NObP. Giving the audience a run down on how ideas will be channelled and submitted to the GCF. The key regulation is that before any idea is submitted to the GCF, it must attain a “No Objection Letter” from the NDA and be aligned with Tonga’s resilient goals. In each step from the idea, to the JNAP Secretariate, JNAP Taskforce to the NDA office, the idea’s feasibility, validity and applicability will be assessed.
What perhaps stood out in this forum is the engagement level by the participants who contributed at every opportunity alongside the headline presenters. They aired their concerns in the question and answer session. Energy proved to be a concern for most sectors, the high cost of crude oil affects prices as exemplified by the high cost of keeping a fridge on to preserve fish. So there should be some incentives in place to propel businesses to invest in solar or other renewable energy. Also have solutions in place to drive the country towards using hybrid vehicles by introducing “soft loans” for this sake.
The Forum was finally closed by Sam Vea, who encouraged more collaborations, “ thinking outside the box” and “thinking big” by developing ideas that will benefit a big part of the population.