Niue

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Country Overview

Capital: Alofi
Land: 259 sq km
EEZ: 390,000 sq km
Population: 1,625 (2006)
Language: English, Niuean
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Economy: Agriculture, banking, telecommunications and tourism

Niue is a self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand, located partway between Tonga, Samoa and the Cook islands. Niue’s economy is heavily dependent on support from New Zealand and aid accounts for 70% of Niue’s GDP. Niue has a population of approximately 1625 people, making it the world’s least populated state.

Niue is the world’s largest and highest single raised coral atoll, is located in the central southwest Pacific, 2,400 km north of New Zealand (Figure 1). The total land surface of the atoll is 259 km2 and the island reaches a maximum height of 68 m above sea level. The surrounding ocean reaches depth of up to 4,000m. The island consists of limestone of approximately 500 m depth. Soil conditions are relatively poor, limiting agriculture, however small-scale agriculture does exist. 

The majority of the 1625 population is located near the capital Alofi, on the west side of the island. Population growth has been negative for the past decades, from a recorded maximum of 5,194 in 1966. Most of the decline in population is due to residents leaving for New Zealand where economic opportunities are greater. Niueans have had citizenship rights in New Zealand since 1974, when the country entered into a free association with New Zealand (SOPAC, 2007)

Niue is vulnerable to climate risks such as Tropical Cyclones (TCs) and droughts; geological risks such as earthquakes and tsunami; and human-caused risks such as disease outbreaks and contamination of the water supply. As the world’s largest elevated coral atoll, its rocky and rugged coastline has steep cliffs which offer marginal protection from risks such as tsunami. However as experienced in 2004 with the category 5 Tropical Cyclone Heta, TC-induced waves have the capacity to overtop the steep cliffs and wash boulders inland up to +25 m above sea level. Niue’s isolation, small population, reliance on donor aid, limited water resources and marginal agricultural potential also contribute to its overall risk profile.

map of Niue

National Climate Change Priorities

Niue’s Climate Change Policy was developed in 2009 and defines the position of government and other stakeholders on the issues of climate change, variability and sea level rise. The vision and goal of the Climate Change Policy are as follows:

Vision “A safer, more resilient Niue to impacts of climate change and towards achieving sustainable livelihoods.”

Goal “To promote understanding of and formulate appropriate responses to the causes and effects of climate change in support of national sustainable development objectives.”

The Climate Change Policy priorities include:

  1. Awareness Raising
  2. Data Collection, Storage, Sharing and Application
  3. Adaptation
  4. Mitigation
  5. Governance and Mainstreaming
  6. Regional & international Cooperation
  7. Disaster risk management

The JNAP strongly recognises the links between disaster risk management and climate change action, and thus aims to operationalise the Climate Change Policy and vulnerabilities identified in the SNC. Niue’s Coastal Development Policy, developed in 2008, has the following aims:

  • Sustain coastal benefits through integrated coastal area management and development.
  • Reduce disaster risks to coastal development and the people of Niue.
  • Promote proactive and co-operative governance.

The JNAP also fulfils meeting the task of operationalising the Coastal Development Policy via its actions contained in the results matrix of the JNAP document.

Date updated: March 2016

Governance

Since 1974, Niue has been self-governing in free association with New Zealand, under the Niue Constitution (GoN, 2009). Niueans are also New Zealand citizens. The Premier is the Head of Government and the Executive Government (Cabinet) consists of the Premier and three ministers (GoN, 2009). The Legislative Assembly (Parliament) consists of 20 members which represent 14 village constituencies and 6 common roll members (GoN, 2002). Elections are held every 3 years.

Devolution of responsibility from the Legislative Assembly to Village Councils recognises the need to preserve and build strength of family and community systems and village life in general, which remain the focus of Niue’s cultural and political organisations (GoN, 2002). Tãoga Niue is a government department established to sustain Niue’s national identity, including through language; customs and traditions; and arts and crafts. The purpose of Tãoga Niue is also to address the threat of declining population and the penetration of Western values and practices on the people and culture of Niue (Barnett, 2008 in GoN, 2014).

The church is an additional institution important in Niue’s governance structure, with Ekalesia Niue being the dominant church, accounting for 60% of the population (Barnett, 2008 in GoN, 2014). In some villages, the Village Council and the Church Council are indistinguishable. Relatively few civil society organisations exist, with their influence generally restricted to their area of interest.

Niue’s economy is heavily dependent on support from New Zealand, who has a statutory obligation to provide economic and administrative assistance to Niue (GoN, 2009 in GoN, 2014). Aid accounts for 70% of Niue’s GDP, which is NZ$10,000 per capita (Barnett and Ellemor, 2007 in GoN, 2014). Other sources of financial resources include taxation, government trading activities, sovereign assets and additional support form development partners (GoN, 2009 in GoN, 2014). Low population, scarcity of natural resources, isolation and high costs of transportation lead to Niue’s economy being far from self-sufficient (GoN, 2010a in GoN, 2014).

The public sector accounts for the vast majority of the economy, employing over 400 people (Barnett, 2008 in GoN, 2014), and representing 56% of those formally employed (GoN, 2006b in GoN, 2014). other minority sectors in Niue include tourism, fishing, with noni and vanilla which are being developed as a cash crop for export (GoN, 2009). Trade and tourism suffer from limited transport options, with only weekly flights to/from Auckland servicing the island and the channel accessing Alofi wharf too small for large shipping vessels.

Climate change

The Cabinet approved the development of a JNAP for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in March 2011.  A JNAP Task Force Committee was established and comprised of representatives from the Police, Niue Department of Meteorology and Climate Change (NDMCC), Department of Environment and Department of Public Works. 

The NDMCC acting as the secretariat of the JNAP is also the UNFCCC Focal Point for the country instrumental in facilitating key reports such as the first (2001) and second (2014) national communication report to the UNFCCC. The second national communication report development process involved some stakeholder consultation, alongside developing and tracking greenhouse gas emissions in line with UNFCCC requirements. The JNAP development, supported by SPC (SOPAC) and SPREP was developed in the backdrop of key CCA and DRM project such as PACC, IWRM and the Niue Climate Change Policy, Coastal Development Policy and Niue National Disaster Plan.

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Niue has in place a number of projects aimed at risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Existing steering committees are already in place for the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) Project (which has a water focus); the integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project and the National Communications for climate change.

Disaster risk management

Niue’s National Disaster Plan (2010), which was updated to include lessons learned from TC Heta, contains a number of sub-plans:

  •  Disaster Management Plan
  •  Response and Recovery Plan
  •  Contingency Plans (for cyclone and storm, influenza pandemic) and
  •  Tsunami Plan.

In times of emergency and disaster, Cabinet maintains overall responsibility for disaster management (GoN, 2010b in GoN, 2014). on a day-to-day basis, the National Disaster Council (NDC) is the designated authority as the central coordinator for all hazards, while the Police undertake much of the required work (GoN, 2010b).

Village Councils, Government departments and the Police have additional responsibilities in terms of risk reduction and awareness raising which are outlined in the National Disaster Plan (2010). The National Emergency operations Centre (NEoC) is housed in the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue building and it is the responsibility of the Police to ensure equipment is functioning.

In times of disaster, the Chief of Police is the designated Disaster Controller, providing leadership in overall response, relief and initial recovery. The National Emergency operations Centre (NEoC) is housed within the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue (BCN), given its communications capacity.

Date updated: March 2016

Adaptation

Niue has five main climate change adaptation goals as outlined below, that it will like to progress for a safer and more resilient future. For detailed information on each of the goals, download a copy of the JNAP please click here

Goal 1: Strong and effective institutional basis for disaster risk reduction / climate change adaptation

Objectives

  1. Mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk management into national economic development planning and budgetary processes; and into sector policies and plans;
  2. Establish an effective regulatory and institutional framework to facilitate the development and implementation of appropriate national risk reduction measures and responses;
  3. Strengthen partnerships and collaboration with national, regional and international organisations

Goal 2: Strong public awareness and improved understanding of the causes and effects of climate change, climate variability and disasters

Objectives

  1. Develop and implement a communications strategy
  2. Strengthen and coordinate public awareness campaigns through educational and promotional programs such as public seminars, workshops and training, including through the use of multi-media
  3. Develop national partnerships with NGos and the private sector to raise awareness and target special interest groups such as community bodies, village councils, youth and business community
  4. Incorporate climate change and DRM advocacy into school curricula, as appropriate
  5. Facilitate effective coordination and dissemination of special climate change promotional resources and programs for better understanding of concepts such as adaptation, mitigation, REDD, carbon trading, CDM, green growth, iWRM, PACC

Goal 3: Strengthened livelihoods, community resilience, natural resources and assets

Objectives

  1. Strengthen community capacity to cope with potential climate change and disaster impacts
  2. Strengthen resilience of key infrastructure (communications, power, water, air and sea ports) and key development sectors including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism
  3. Strengthen technical and institutional capacity to collect, store and analyze climate and disaster risk information

Goal 4: Strengthened capacity to adapt renewable energy technologies,improve energy efficiency and energy security

Objectives

  1. Promote mitigation actions and energy efficiency and conservation measures in sectors such as electricity, buildings, transportation, industry, tourism, agriculture, forestry, communications and water
  2. identify, develop and implement viable renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind energy and other alternative energy sources

Goal 5: Strengthened disaster preparedness for effective response

Objective: Strengthen disaster preparedness and the capacity for effective response and recover

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Date updated: March 2016

Current Climate

The annual and half-year mean temperatures have warmed at Alofi-Hanan Airport since 1940.  The frequency of warm days and warm nights has significantly increased while cool days have decreased at Alofi-Hanan Airport. Annual and half-year rainfall trends show little change at Alofi-Hanan Airport since 1905. There has also been little change in extreme rainfall since 1915.

Tropical cyclones affect Niue mainly between November and April. An average of 10 cyclones per decade developed within or crossed the Niue Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the 1969/70 and 2010/11 seasons. Six of the 24 tropical cyclones (25%) between the 1981/82 and 2010/11 seasons became severe events (Category 3 or stronger) in the Niue EEZ. Available data are not suitable for assessing long-term trends.

Wind-waves at Niue have a nearly constant height period and direction throughout the year, with a slight seasonal increase in wave height and period with southern trade winds. Waves are characterised by trade winds seasonally and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation ENSO) and Southern Annular Mode (SAM) inter annually. Available data are not suitable for assessing long-term trends.

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014).

Future Climate

For the period to 2100, the latest global climate model (GCM) projections and climate science findings for Niue indicate that:

  • El Niño and La Niña events will continue to occur in the future (very high confidence), but there is little consensus on whether these events will change in intensity or frequency;
  • Annual mean temperatures and extremely high daily temperatures will continue to rise (very high confidence);
  • The mean annual rainfall could increase or decrease with the model average indicating little change (low confidence in this model average), with more extreme rain events (high confidence);
  • The proportion of time in drought is projected to increase or decrease in line with average rainfall (low confidence);
  • Ocean acidification is expected to continue (very high confidence);
  • The risk of coral bleaching will increase in the future (very high confidence);
  • Sea level will continue to rise (very high confidence); and
  • Wave heights may decrease in December–March (low confidence), with no significant changes projected in June–September waves (low confidence).

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014).

Date updated: March 2016

Knowledge Management & Education

The national climate change policy and JNAP promotes educational program through its awareness raising objective.  The policy promote public awareness and improve stakeholder understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and climate variability and as well as on vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation responses. The expected benefit outlined in the policy from implementing policy will be improved public awareness and stakeholder knowledge of climate change issues, leading to a better and informed decision-making.

A systematic approach to raising awareness on climate change is a priority nonetheless, (e.g. a climate change communication strategy, awareness campaigns, climate change integration into school curricula, awareness-raising on specific topics). Innovative and inclusive development of materials in Vagahau Niue (Niuean language) is being encouraged. For non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be effective in delivering and working on climate change issues, an enabling supporting environment to assist NGOs carry out capacity building and trainings on how to effectively raise awareness on climate change is required.

Niue’s second climate change adaptation goal (JNAP Goal 2): Strong public awareness and improved understanding of the causes and effects of climate change, climate variability and disasters – aims to strengthen and coordinate public awareness campaigns through educational and promotional programs such as public seminars, workshops and training, including through the use of multi-media.  More importantly, incorporate climate change and DRM advocacy into school curricula, as appropriate as stated in the fourth objective of this second goal.  The Curriculum Development Task Force - Education, Environment, Meteorology, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, NDMCC is given this task. The following sub-actions are outlined in the JNAP 2014 for meeting this particular objective are:

(i) Review current curricula to integrate CCA & DRM with guidance from the Curriculum Development Task Force. Consultant to develop outputs that include:

  • Resources for teachers and students adapted to the Niue context. These should include but not be limited to template lesson plans for teachers incorporating DRM and CCA into existing curricula to assist in the delivery of the modules, workbooks for teachers, teaching materials and programmes for schools
  • Training of Teachers in delivering DRM/CCA modules
  • Trial of the modules being delivered by trained teachers and assessment in schools with future program improvement

(ii) Develop Training materials, school programmes, community awareness programmes and curricula incorporating climate change issue with the outcome of having a broad toolkit available for incorporation of CCA

(iii) Monitoring and Evaluation of Training of teachers and students continued and further enhanced materials through food security-related adaptation experience.  The outcome here is that M&E supports continuous improvement of teachers and materials indicated by ongoing improvement of educational products and practices relating to DRM and CC.

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Date updated: March 2016

Mitigation

Niue is one of the world’s least populated countries with low per capita emission of greenhouse gases. This means that Niue’s contribution to this global problem is small, accounting for less than 0.0001% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Removals from Niue’s forests outweigh its emissions many times over. As such,Niue is a net carbon sink, removing in the order of 139Gg CO2-e from the atmosphere each year.

However, Niue recognises there may be considerable scope through technological and behavioural means to lower its emissions this further, congruent with Niue’s ambition to be a globally responsible citizen. It is anticipated that mitigating greenhouse gas emissions can have substantial collateral benefits including: decreased national expenditure associated with the escalating costs of importing fossil fuels; improved energy security; improved local air quality; support for Niue as an eco-tourism destination and encouraging sustainable development in the Pacific region.

Efforts to reduce GHG emissions are complementary to Niue’s focus on its vision to ‘build a sustainable future that meets our economic and social needs while preserving environmental integrity, social stability, and the Niue culture’.

The sectoral breakdown of Niue’s GHG emissions from the forthcoming Second National Communication (2009 data, excluding waste) shows that the vast majority of Niue’s emissions come from the energy sector.  The transport contributes the bulk of energy sector emissions at 57%, and electricity generation the remainder, at 42%. The focus of GHG mitigation efforts for Niue is thus firmly on transport and electricity generation.

In 2015, Niue has a 100% electricity penetration rate and total electricity demand is fairly stable, having recorded only 3% growth from 2008 to 2012. However Niue is 96% dependent on imported fuel for power generation and 100% dependent on imported fuel for land, sea and air transportation.

Electricity generation

Reliable, affordable, secure and sustainable energy supply is key to achieving prosperity for all Niueans. In light of Niue’s vulnerability on imported oil,  the Niue Strategic Energy Road Map  (NiSERM) 2015  –  2025 was developed, with the goal of “a sustainable energy sector for a Prosperous Niue”. The NiSERM builds on the 2005 Niue Energy Policy (NEP) and the Niue National Strategic Plan (NNSP) 2014 – 2019, to pursue five key motivations identified by stakeholders:

  1. Reduced dependence on fossil fuels
  2. 2.  Improved energy efficiency
  3. 3.  More sustainable, cleaner energy
  4. 4.  Improved cost-effectiveness of energy services
  5. 5.  Attract funding for energy sector development

Niue is committed to transitioning the electricity sector from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The NiSERM  outlines Niue’s aspiration to meet 80% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2025, which would in turn reduce the country’s high reliance on imported fossil fuel. This aspiration underpins Niue’s contribution in Niue’s INDC Section 6.

The period 2000-2009 saw progress on greenhouse gas emission mitigation in the form of the installation of solar hot water heating, public education campaigns, increased grid penetration and distributed use of renewable technologies, and the promotion of using low emission fuel sources and financial support for the uptake of more efficient appliances.

However,  Niue  faces  difficulties  in  mitigating  climate  change  for  two  primary  reasons. First,  Niue lacks environmental base data which would be able to support climate related decision-making. Second, Niue lacks the capacity to monitor and evaluate energy supply initiatives. Without this support there is no way to evaluate the cost or emission reduction effectiveness of programmes and take an adaptive management approach.

Recent installations of solar PV, identified as the most feasible renewable energy source for Niue, have seen  grid stability issues arising that is inhibiting additional solar grid connections.  The power sector in Niue urgently requires technical assistance to address this issue.

There  are  further  issues  in  establishing  a  renewable  industry  in  Niue.  These  are  the  high  degree  of  subsidisation of electricity prices, a small market, high capital costs and lack of technological knowledge within the utility.

Transport

The  majority  of  fuel  use  is  for  land  transport  and  the  other  major  fuel  user  is  the  airline  industry.   As international regulations limit scope for national interventions, Niue is focusing mitigation efforts on land transport. There  is  no  public  transport  system  in  Niue  and  therefore  private  vehicles  are  the  primary  mode  of transport.  There  is  currently  no  regulation  that  restricts  the  type  of  vehicles  allowed  into  the  country, however  in 2011  Customs regulations were amended to encourage the import of fuel-efficient vehicles into Niue, and targets have been set under the NiSERM to deploy more fuel efficient vehicles.

Efforts  are  hampered  by  the  limited  availability  of  technological  solutions  for  the  transport  sector. However, this may be changing with the emergence of electrical vehicles, that could serve to be a resource for electricity grid stability and a means of reducing oil dependence, providing solar charging as part of the path  to  a  100%  renewable  electricity  grid.  The  Government  welcomes  international  assistance  in  the development of opportunities for deep emissions cuts in the transport sector.

Land Use Change and Forestry

Niue is a net sink of greenhouse gases.  It is important that the capacity of removals of greenhouse gases by AFOLU be maintained, if not enhanced.  Currently, forestry activity is low andpopulation decline has resulted in significant conversion of cropland to secondary rainforest.  Removals can be assumed to be highly sensitive to future population increases, residential infrastructure replacement after cyclones or commercial forestry resumption.  The government of Niue is concluding a National forestry Policy to provide strategic direction for the island’s forest areas. 

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

Niue’s mitigation contribution pledged in November 2015 is for the period 2020, 2025 for defining contribution or outcomes as follows:

Type and level of contribution:

In line with Niue’s resilience approach to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels,  Niue  will  achieve  a  38%  share  of  renewable  energy  of  total  electricity generation  by  2020.  (In  2014  the  renewable  energy  share  was  2%  and  this contribution assumes assistance to address critical grid stability issues). This will in  part  be  delivered  by  a  10%  reduction  in  residential,  commercial  and government electricity demand by 2020. This contribution will be maintained out to  2025  and  will  be  delivered  using  national  resources  and  international assistance being identified to achieve the goals of the NiSERM.

Conditional  upon  additional  international  assistance,  Niue  could  increase  its contribution to an  80% share of renewable energy of total electricity generation, or  to  even  higher  levels,  by  2025.  This  would  require  additional  support  for energy storage and renewable energy generation, and strengthened frameworks for project delivery.

Specific actions to deliver the above contributions are outlined in Annex 1. While required investment to achieve the contributions has not been fully quantified, investments  required  are  far  smaller  than  those  needed  to  deliver  a  resilient future for Niue in the face of climate change.

Estimated quantified emissions impact:

In 2009 electricity generation contributed 2.1 Gg CO2e as an emissions source. The  NiSERM  Business  as  Usual  forecast  predicts  a  33%  increase  in  diesel consumption  for  electricity  generation  from  2009-2020  and  75%  increase  by 2025,  assuming  economic  and  population  growth  and  no  GHG  abatement measures.

A 38% renewable energy contribution in 2020 would equate to a reduction of 364,000 liters of diesel per annum, or approximately 1.2 GgC02e per annum. An 80% renewable energy contribution in 2020 would equate to a reduction of 977,000 litres of diesel per annum, or approximately 3.1 Gg C02e per annum.

Coverage

Sectors

Electricity (42% of reported 2009 energy sector emissions)*

 

Gases

Carbon dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); Nitrous oxide (N2O)

 

Geography

Whole country

* note that waste and agriculture sectors were not reported in 2009 GHG inventory.

For more information go to: http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Niue/1/Niue%20INDC%20Final.pdf

Date updated: March 2016

 

Focal points - Climate change & Disaster Risk Management

Climate Change                                                            

Dr Josie Tamate
Director General of Natural Resources
Address: Niue Public Service Building, Fonuakula,
Alofi, Niue

Tel: (683) 4047
Email: Josie.Tamate@mail.gov.nu

Sauni Tongatule
Director
Environment

Tel: (683) 4021
Email: Sauni.Tongatule@mail.gov.nu;

Rosslyn Mitiepo
Acting Director
Meteorology

Email: Rossy.Mitiepo@mail.gov.nu
Tel: (683)

GEF Operational and Political Focal Point(s):
Mr. Richard Tafatu HIPA (Political Focal Point)
Secretary of Government
Government of Niue
Alofi
Niue

Email: Richard.Hipa@mail.gov.nu

Mr. Sauni TONGATULE (Operational Focal Point)
Director
Department of Environment
Alofi, Niue

Email: Sauni.Tongatule@mail.gov.nu

Disaster Risk Management

Chistine Ioane
Head of External Affairs,
Premiers Department
Alofi
Niue

Tel: (683) 4200
Fax: (683) 4151

Deve Talagi
Director

Tel: (683) 4194
Email:Deve.Talagi@mail.gov.nu;

Hetututama Speedo Hetutu
Disaster Emergency Council
Niue Power
General Manager

Tel: (683) 4119
Email: Gm.npc@mail.gov.nu;

Date Updated: March 2016

References

The following references have been used to develop the country profile.  It is important to note that contributions are from local, regional and international agencies.  The profile is reviewed by the national focal point for accuracy.   We encourage you to contact the focal points if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.

  1. Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Islands States (GCCA: PSIS) project, Niue Climate Change Profile, 30 June 2012.
  2. Government of Niue, and Applied Geoscience & Technology Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, April 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.preventionweb.net/files/28164_nationalactionplanforniuedrmcc2012.pdf
  3. Government of Niue, 2009.  National Climate Change Policy. Department of Environment, Government of Niue
  4. Government of Niue, 2012. Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, Department of Environment, Government of Niue
  5. Niue National Strategic Plan 2009-2013
  6. PACC Demonstration Guide: Improving domestic rainwater harvesting systems in Niue. Apia, Samoa : SPREP, 2015
  7. SPC 2009, Niue Country Energy Security Indicator Profile 2009. SPC
  8. Niue Statistics
  9. http://www.gov.nu/wb/
  10. http://www.pacificdisaster.net/pdn2008/
  11. https://www.sprep.org/pacc/niue
  12. http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Niue/1/Niue%20INDC%20Final.pdf

Date updated: March 2016