Tuvalu - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific
At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate change and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Tuvalu to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.
Climate change and disaster impacts in Tuvalu
Tuvalu’s island group sits less than five metres above sea level, making it the world’s second lowest-lying country and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Tuvalu is susceptible to a range of challenges that will be exacerbated by climate change, such as more severe and longer-lasting droughts and heat waves, coastal erosion, increased acidity of ocean waters, sea level rise, wind-driven waves and king tides.
- Tuvalu will experience more intense cyclones, like 2020’s Tropical Cyclone Tino, which destroyed homes and crops, and affected 50 percent of the population. Australia is working with the Government of Tuvalu to ensure that critical social infrastructure can withstand increasingly strong winds and can act as shelters in times of disaster.
- Tuvalu’s soils only support a narrow range of crops. Erosion and drought have already damaged taro crops on Funafuti, leaving people with fewer options for growing food and earning income. Innovative solutions, like vertical gardens, are being explored to help overcome these challenges.
- As climate change impacts intensify, Tuvalu will need external support to implement priority adaptation actions like protecting coastal zones and safeguarding water supplies. Australia is helping build the capacity of the Government of Tuvalu to access and effectively utilise global climate change finance.
- Tuvalu is highly prone to disasters, which will escalate as climate change impacts get worse. Australia is helping Tuvalu prepare for a more hazard-prone future by supporting integration of climate change and resilience building into the country’s policy and planning agenda, including the National Constitution.
Australia has provided approximately $3.2 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Tuvalu since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the infrastructure, education, and governance sectors:
- The Funafuti Classroom Building Project ($0.1 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $4.1 million 2015-2020 project total) has built classrooms that can withstand increasingly strong cyclones. This infrastructure also ensures classrooms are accessible to all and have water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities that meet the needs of women and girls.
- Through the Constitutional Review Project ($0.7 million, 2016-2019), Australia is helping the Government of Tuvalu to include responses to climate change in the National Constitution and to build their capacity to access and use international climate change finance.
- With Australia’s support the Government of Tuvalu is undertaking significant economic reforms in fiscal sustainability and public financial management. These reforms aim to improve the transparency and accountability of government services and are a step toward strengthening economic resilience against climate shocks.
- The Tuvalu Food Futures Project Phase 1 ($0.8 million, 2019-2020), in partnership with Live & Learn, is establishing food gardens using Foodcube technology to improve long-term food security in Tuvalu. This project is critical for supporting food security in Tuvalu especially during a global crisis such as COVID-19. Phase 2 of the project ($1.7 million, 2020-2021) is expanding the work to two outer islands; Nukufetau and Nukulaelae with additional Foodcubes for Funafala.
Regional and global programs
A range of regional and global climate change investments are working directly to build climate change and disaster resilience in Tuvalu, including:
- The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Tuvalu Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
- The Pacific Governance for Resilience (Gov4Res) ($10.4 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation.