CLIMATE CHANGE & TUVALU

 Main square of Nui Island under water. Tropical Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage and marine flooding. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP

Main square of Nui Island under water. Tropical Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage and marine flooding. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP

 

No other group of nations is more vulnerable to climate change than low-lying Small Island Developing States.  

As a nation of atoll islands, the majority of the population lives on land less than two meters above sea level. The threat of coastal hazards such as sea level rise and storm wave impacts pose challenges to the islands for the people of Tuvalu.

 

 
 

Increasing impacts of climate change will not only undermine Tuvalu’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but also pose threats to the habitability and safety of their islands.

 
 

Development gains in Tuvalu can be easily wiped out by disasters. During Cyclone Pam in March 2015, storm waves destroyed homes, crops and livelihoods, and displaced 45 percent of the nation’s people. The cyclone inflicted economic loss and damage estimated at $US10.34 million, over a third of the country’s GDP at the time

 
 Fayvaka Keneseli Chief of Nui explains the impact of Cyclone Pam waves on his island and the greatest needs of support. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP

Fayvaka Keneseli Chief of Nui explains the impact of Cyclone Pam waves on his island and the greatest needs of support. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP

Looking into the future

 

Climate model projections for Tuvalu suggest extreme rainfall days are likely to occur more often; and whilst tropical cyclones may become less frequent, those that do occur are expected to be more powerful and destructive.

Meanwhile, with global emissions reduction targets not being met, the world is gradually committing to more severe projections for sea level rise. Under the high emissions scenario RCP 8.5, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that global mean sea level is expected to rise by around 30cm by middle of this century, and by 75cm by the year 2100.

Given Tuvalu’s low-lying islands and susceptibility to storm surge, these projections present sobering challenges.

Tuvalu taking action

 
 

Tuvalu is simultaneously tackling climate change while advancing development priorities, joining its Pacific neighbours in driving forward the international agenda on climate change.

Tuvalu has submitted its National Adaptation Programme of Action, Initial and Second National Communications and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. A new national climate change policy is currently being developed by the Government of Tuvalu.

With support from the Green Climate Fund, the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project will enhance resilience to coastal hazards on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea and Nanumaga.

While new defence measures will act as a buffer during storms, the project will also build the capacity of government and local communities in adapting to climate change in the long term.