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Tonga missing out at COP23 without a Minister: Sovaleni

Former Tongan Cabinet Minister Siaosi Sovaleni

BONN, Germany – November 10: 10.15am (Nuku’alofa Times/RNZI): Tonga is missing out by not having a minister at the current COP23 event here in Bonn, Germany, former Environment and Climate Change Minister Siaosi Sovaleni says.

Tonga is represented here by a delegation led by Chief Executive Officer for Climate Change Mr Paula Ma’u (MEIDECC) and the Director Climate Change Luisa Tuiafitu Malolo.

The global conference on climate change is being chaired by Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, but Tonga’s delegation does not include a cabinet minister.

Mr Sovaleni was the Minister responsible for the environment and climate change until he was sacked days after Parliament was dissolved in August.

The election was subsequently brought forward a year to next week.

Mr Sovaleni said an unfortunate by-product is the lack of ministerial presence at COP 23.

The Tonga delegation here in Bonn, Germany. Photo: MEIDECC

The Tonga delegation here in Bonn, Germany. Photo: MEIDECC

“I do believe that Tonga is a small country [but] it should have some contribution towards this global problem that we have,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that, because of timing, that we can’t be represented at that level so that we can see how we can contribute to this global problem but also to see how we can actually try and mitigate the potential problem to Tonga.”

The Tongan government did not send any minister to the COP23 with all Cabinet Ministers staying back in Tonga to prepare for the November 16 elections.

Hon Sovaleni had led Tonga’s delegation to Paris where the Paris Agreement was signed and had been the lead for the Kingdom in climate change discussions and negotiations.

Meanwhile, regional negotiator Amena Yauvoli said Fiji will spearhead the move for the rest of the Pacific at the COP23 talks, with the Pacific Island Countries coming together for the first time to negotiate the way forward with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.


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