Tonga

Communities Threatened by Sea Level Rise

Language Tongan/English
September 15, 2011 7 p.m. local time

© 2009 Flickr/Sarah Kelemen cc by 2.0

Just east of the international dateline, Tonga has been called “the place where time begins.”

East of Australia in the South Pacific, the Kingdom of Tonga comprises 176 islands scattered across 270,000 square miles. Known for its beautiful beaches, the tropical waters off Tonga are also known as a part-year home for endangered humpback whales that migrate to these warm waters annually from Antarctica.

© 2009 Flickr/Sarah Kelemen cc by 2.0

Nuku’alofa is the capital and largest city in Tonga. It is situated on the island of Tongatapu, much of which is only 4 meters (13 feet) above sea level. Rising sea levels caused by global warming present a severe threat to Tonga. Entire communities may be forced to leave their homes in response to coastal erosion, flooding and freshwater contamination. More severe extreme weather, particularly in the form of tropical storms, also presents great challenges for this island nation.

Presented by Merewalesi Nailatikau

Merewalesi Nailatikau lives in Fiji, where she is a post-graduate student in Development Studies at the University of the South Pacific. She was appointed in February 2011 as a Goodwill Ambassador for Children at UNICEF. She has been named Miss Fiji and Miss South Pacific, and has used her platform to be an advocate for children and for solving the climate crisis. She has used her communication skills to assist numerous non-governmental organizations and international advocacy groups.

To learn more about this presenter, click here.