Tokelau

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 Country Overview

Capital: No Capital.  Each island has its own administrative centre, Nukunonu, Atafu, Fakaofo.
Land: 15.7 sq. km
EEZ: 319,031 sq. km
Population: 1,466 (2006)
Language: English, ni-Tokelau
Currency: NZD
Economy: EEZ Fishing License fees, locally imposed duties and taxes, freight and boat fares and interest payments.  Tokelau is dependent on financial assistance from New Zealand for its recurrent budget and also for the majority of its infrastructure developments.

Tokelau consists of three small coral atolls that lie between latitudes 8 and 10 degrees south and 171 and 173 degrees west in a sea area of some 300,000 square kilometres. Atafu, the most northern atoll, lies 92 kilometres north-west of the central atoll, Nukunonu. The most southern atoll, Fakaofo, is 64 kilometres south-east of Nukunonu. The largest atoll is Nukunonu at 4.7sq km. Fakaofo and Atafu are 4sq km and 3.5 sq. km respectively. From Atafu in the north to Fakaofo in the south, Tokelau extends for less than 200km and the atolls are three to five metres above sea level. Therefore, the physical features in Tokelau are very limited and make the territory vulnerable to sea level rising caused by the effects of climate change.

Tokelau’s closest neighbour Samoa lies 480 kilometres to the south. Tokelau is relatively isolated, where the only means of transport is by sea via Samoa and it is from here that travel and shipment of supplies originate. Except for Fakaofo (which has two villages), the population of each atoll is concentrated in a single village, on the western shore, close to a small natural pass into the central lagoon. This allows smaller boats to transport passengers and cargo from larger ships docked in the open sea.

The 2006 Tokelau population census is 1466. Tokelau has a youthful population with a median age of 22 years. Of the usual resident population, there is a noticeable narrowing of the population structure in the 20 – 29 year olds, most likely because of their mobility for reasons such as education and employment outside of Tokelau. There are almost the same number of males and females, with females having a higher life expectancy.

The atolls comprise of calcium carbonate coral reefs, sands and rock. Low fertility of the coral-sand ‘soil’ means that only a few food crops such as, breadfruit, coconut, pandanus, giant swamp taro and banana, can be supported in the Tokelau environment. The porous soils have prevented agricultural development beyond a subsistence economy.

The climate is hot with an average temperature of 28 deg C. Severe tropical storms have been more frequent in recent years with cyclones in 1987, 1990. 1991 and 2005 and due to the low-lying nature of the atolls, causes extensive damage to houses and general infrastructure.

The global climatic changes are a real threat to Tokelau’s long-term viability. Climate change has had an obvious effect on Tokelau. We now experience more cyclones and storm surges than we had in the past. The cyclones and storm surges are more intense and the impact of this is evident on the coastal areas which have eroded and some species of plants have noticeably disappeared due to the saline levels of the soil. We have also seen the disappearance of some our smaller islets due to the sea-level rise caused by climate change.

On larger islets, the increasing erosion threatens the production of the few crops which can be grown. The extreme weather conditions are experienced more often with an increasing number of hot days during the year and unusually high temperatures during times of the year when one would normally expect cooler temperatures. As a consequence of coral bleaching, now an annual event, degradation of the coral reefs both inside and outside the lagoon has occurred.

Coral within the lagoons are noticeably in poor health and more of them are dying from one year to the next. This has greatly affected the quantity and quality of food supply from the inshore fish population. The life cycle of in-shore fish is also affected by the extreme weather conditions which have seen the decrease in the number and gradual disappearance of some species of fish from the lagoons. This threatens the food supply for villages as fish is the main source of sustenance.

Hotter  temperatures  is  also  affecting  the  health  of  the  general  population,  particularly  the more vulnerable such as those with respiratory ailments or the young and elderly. Coping with the longer spells of hot weather and increasing periods of no rain is stressful and there is a need to mitigate for this risk by improving the water storage systems and ensuring that all families are able to access adequate and safe supplies of water.

The impact of climate change on the environment causing erosion of coastal areas, and the disappearance of some plant species, diminishing the availability of fish in the lagoon is a major cause of concern for Tokelau. The reality of this however is that the visible changes to the environment and the effects on the livelihood of the people has very little to do with what we are doing on our island homes. The causes of such drastic changes are due primarily to the pollution levels which the world at large continues to pump into the atmosphere and into the oceans. Tokelau’s concern is that should the developed nations not heed the warnings by scientists for the need to reduce GHG emissions to a required level, she stands to lose not just her lands and environs but also the culture and traditions which affirm the identity of her people.

Tokelau is dependent on financial assistance from New Zealand for its recurrent budget and also for the majority of its infrastructure developments. There is currently little opportunity for diversification. Local revenue is primarily from the EEZ Fishing License fees, locally imposed duties and taxes, freight and boat fares and interest payments. With few natural resources available for economic development, Tokelau relies on assistance from New Zealand for the majority of its development initiatives. Village-based economic projects have been established in the past, such as a fish processing plant in Atafu, but they have proved to be too difficult to sustain given Tokelau’s relative isolation from sizeable markets, limited infrastructure and transport constraints. Establishing community-owned enterprises as well as small private businesses may occur as a result of making available micro-financing opportunities. While this may have a limited effect on the national economy, it does provide avenues by which individuals and communities can begin to realise entrepreneurial aspirations.

Source: ©SPC, 2013. 

Date updated: March 2016 


[1] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). 2009. Tokelau. [online]. Available athttp://www.mfat.govt.nz/Countries/Pacific/Tokelau.php

[2] South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). 2006. [online]. Available athttp://www.sopac.org/Tokelau

[3] South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). 2006. [online]. Available athttp://www.sopac.org/Tokelau

[4] http://www.seaaroundus.org/eez/772.aspx

[5] South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). 2006. [online]. Available athttp://www.sopac.org/Tokelau

[6] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). 2009. Tokelau. [online]. Available athttp://www.mfat.govt.nz/Countries/Pacific/Tokelau.php

[7] http://www.adaptationlearning.net/country-profiles

[8] CIA - The World Factbook. 2009. Tokelau. [online]. Available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/tl.html

[9] South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). 2006. [online]. Available athttp://www.sopac.org/Tokelau

[10] South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC). 2006. [online]. Available athttp://www.sopac.org/Tokelau

[11] Ibid.

[12] Excerpt from the Tokelau National Strategic Plan 2010-2015
[http://www.sprep.org/att/irc/ecopies/countries/tokelau/22.pdf]

National Climate Change Priorities

To cope with the impact of climate change, Tokelau will have to have far-reaching strategies which address the management of her natural resources and lead to sustainable development. The people of Tokelau have always been resilient and adapted to the threats to the survival of her lands. The measures which need to be taken will require Tokelau to better manage her coastal areas with replanting with species of plants and crops which can withstand the harsh soil and temperature conditions. Coral gardening has been successful in the past and work is underway for coral gardening and lagoon restocking of clams, pearl oysters and trochus.

Infrastructure development will also have to adapt to different conditions caused by climate change. The housing schemes will have to ensure that buildings are ‘climate-proof’ so that they can better cope with storm surges and that water tanks are structurally sound with the capacity to withstand long periods of drought. All of this will add to the already expensive costs for building accommodation on Tokelau where all building raw materials and equipment must be shipped in.

Tokelau will also have to put in place stringent food security measures to ensure that the prime sources of staple foods can be sustained. Despite efforts to establish conservation areas, coral bleaching and the effects of extreme weather conditions have certainly affected the intended results of these. Tokelau has very few natural resources which it can rely on for economic development other than its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Climate change has also impacted on the migration of fish around the oceans due to the changes in ocean temperatures from one area to the next. This presents a real risk to the fish resources available from Tokelau’s EEZ, her only substantial economic development activity. The adaptation strategies to mitigate for the impact of climate change on the small atolls of  Tokelau  require  a  combination  of  things:  change  in  attitude  and  behaviour  from  our communities; adaptation measures in the provision of all essential services and a greater capital investment to ‘climate-proof’ further infrastructure development.

Tokelau’s Climate Change Policy is still under review.  In  keeping  with  its  stance  on  promoting  practices  which  minimise the emission of greenhouse gases, and establishing an adaption programme to enhance its resilience to the impacts of climate change, the NSP has identified the following climate change priority objectives:

  • To enhance resilience to immediate and long-term threats to the people of Tokelau and her economies and ecosystems;
  • To  reduce  the  impact  that  extreme  weather  and  climate  change  has  on  the  three villages;
  • To enact laws and guidelines for using natural resources wisely.

The strategies that complement the priority objectives are:

  • To  explore  and  adopt  a  comprehensive,  integrated  approach  to  climate  change risk management that provides timely information, products and services, such as understanding patterns and trends of cyclone frequency and intensity;
  • To  ensure  that  Tokelau  is  fully  included  as  part  of  the  New  Zealand  (Ministry  for Environment) climate change adaptation and mitigation work programme;
  • To improve access to short-term weather forecasts and seasonal climate predictions;
  • To  access  information  specific  to  Tokelau  on  how  the  climate  and  sea-level  may change in the future for each community and implications for such changes;
  • To  integrate  extreme  weather  and  climate  change-related  considerations  into  our national  planning  and  strategy  documents,  community  infrastructure  development, village planning and activities;
  • To complete seawall, housing and water storage projects and ensure maintenance of structures over time;
  • To increase awareness of weather extremes and climate change-related issues and how it affects all members of the community;
  • To identify and implement appropriate village level activities to reduce the impacts that climate change will have on Tokelau;
  • To  develop  and  implement  laws  prohibiting  sand-mining  and  coral  mining  for construction;
  • To undertake assessment to identify areas where sand deposits are sustainable for utilisation.

For more detailed information, go to: [link to the Republic of the Tokelau National Climate Change Policy coming soon]

Date updated: March 2016 

Governance

Establishing systems and processes which promote principles of good governance is one of the most critical national priorities for Tokelau. Governance is one of the four policy outcome areas of Tokelau’s National Strategic Plan 2010-2015.  The plan aspires to strengthen Tokelau political and institutional processes by ensuring mechanisms are in place which encourages community participation in decision-making and information sharing opportunities which promote monitoring of implementation of policies and use of public resources in a responsible manner.

The  Taupulega  (Village  Council  of  Elders),  General  Fono  (National  Assembly)  and  the Council for the Ongoing Government (Executive Government) of Tokelau are the principal administration institutions of governance in Tokelau. The Taupulega provides policy direction at  the  village  level  whereas  the  General  Fono  provides  all  policy  direction  at  the  national level. When the General Fono is not in session the Council for the Ongoing Government becomes the government of the day. Following the devolution of responsibility for on-atoll public services to the villages, the Taupulega has had to contend with various challenges in line with the additional responsibilities that were transferred. The quantum and scope of responsibilities that were transferred to the Taupulega have presented many challenges.

The  challenge  of  understanding  the  relevant  concepts  of  good  governance  and  how  they fit with the Faka-Tokelau is often complicated by the lack of uniform policies. The unique governance structures of each atoll, a lack of understanding of the western principles of good governance and the impact of non-compliance to policy are some of the main issues which need to be addressed. Good governance training and development at all levels is required to ensure there is transparency and accountability and that decision making is informed and evidence-based.

The  public  sector  provides  the  means  by  which  the  government  implements  its  policies. The services provided at the national level, under the coordination of the General Manager, Apia, and the services provided at the village level, under the management of the respective village General Manager (Director or Coordinator).

National public services include the Departments of Finance, Health, Education, Economic Development,  Transport  and  Support  Services,  Energy  and  the  Office  of  the  Council  for Ongoing Government. The national public service supports the General Fono and the Council for the Ongoing Government. The Director of the respective national departments reports directly to the Faipule with the delegated responsibilities for that portfolio. The Village Public Service supports the Taupulega for each village and is made up of the General Manager (Director or Coordinator) leading a team which includes staff who work in the school, hospital, (Information Technology) IT support services, co-operative store, finance, FM radio, general village workers and the traditional workforce.

Tokelau also is maintaining high standards of economic governance over its resources consistent with New Zealand practices. Tokelau Leaders, Taupulega and the public service require accurate, timely, complete and credible financial management advice, information and reports for policy and decision making.

Strengthening leadership, governance and public ownership of prudent financial management and accountability is a necessary requirement. All internal stakeholders have a collective and collaborative role in ensuring the government is transparent, honest and accountable for the efficient and effective management and use of the government’s financial resources.

Tokelau inherits New Zealand’s judicial system and likewise the Chief Justice of New Zealand is the Chief Justice of Tokelau. However, over the years, the people of Tokelau and the government of New Zealand have worked closely together to develop a legal system suitable to the Tokelau context.

Each village on Tokelau has a Law Commissioner appointed by the New Zealand Governor General on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs after consultation with the respective Taupulega. In all cases, the Law Commissioners appointed have no formal training or experience outside Tokelau. The Law Commissioner is supported by the Court Clerk in the Law Commissioner’s court. All the villages have at least one Police Sergeant and at least one other police officer who sits in court as Prosecutors.

Monitoring, review and evaluation (MRE) is carried out in various forms.  There is monthly financial reporting to the General Fono delegates, Council of Ongoing Government, the Taupulega and departments. Reporting to the General Fono is on a 6 monthly basis by way of sector reports. There are also opportunities where both Tokelau and New Zealand work collaboratively together to review certain sectors.

Formal arrangements and appropriate mechanisms are in place to regularly monitor progress against the specific strategies in the Tokelau National Strategic Plan, 2001 – 2010, and the Economic Support Arrangement (ESA). Other review, monitoring and evaluation activities outside of the financial requirements will also be necessary to ensure that the targets under each of the TNSP goals will be achieved. Each department and Taupulega Office will need to gather the necessary data and information that will give indications as to how much progress has been made towards achieving the set targets.

Funding  assistance  provided  by  NZ  under  the  ESA  is  subject  to  satisfactory  and  timely reporting  by  Tokelau  on  a  periodic  basis  through  the  Sector  Reports  and  specific  project reports. The reporting system aims to inform Tokelau’s planning and financial monitoring.

The  Office  of  the  Council  for  Ongoing  Government  (OCOG),  in  working  closely  with  the relevant departments is responsible for the following:

  • Reporting back to the COG on a regular basis on key national activities;
  • Annual performance review of departmental services;
  • Council reporting to every GF session;
  • Reporting to NZ on a 6 monthly basis; and
  • Quarterly reporting to all other donors.

The Taupulega Offices are responsible for monitoring specific policies. The main challenge in the area of MRE is the lack of coordination, commitment and adherence to MRE policies in place. Standard periodic monitoring reports detailing achievements against the annual Work Plans indicators are prepared and submitted to the COG and General Fono. The main indicator of progress will be the number and quality of outputs implemented and successfully achieved.

Six  monthly  and  annual  sector  reports  by  villages  and  departments  are  coordinated  and consolidated  by  the  Department  of  Finance  in  collaboration  with  OCOG.   Government accounts and financial operations are subject to annual independent audit by Audit NZ.

Data gathering and statistical analysis of data is a concept that has yet to be integrated into the reporting culture of the public service. At this point in time, the role of statistics gathering specifically through the collection and collation of information for the national census is the responsibility of an individual staff member located in the Office of the Council for the Ongoing Government. A Strategic Plan for Statistics was developed and endorsed by the General Fono in 2008. This plan focuses on developing the capacity level of local users and a proposal for establishing a statistics unit and strengthening the role of the unit through centralisation of core statistical functions and capacity building. To achieve this we need financial resources and quality staff to undertake functions of the proposed statistics unit, as well as having the relevant legislation in place and engaging in effective coordination and management mechanisms. The function of the statistics unit would be to provide appropriate and quality statistical services to public service departments and villages. The information gathered through this process will feed into a national database under the Statistics Unit for management and dissemination.

This information will be made available at any time to all users but more importantly utilised for national planning and monitoring of existing programmes.

Goal 1: Improved governance, public sector and
financial management, and application of the rule of law (TNSP 2010-2015)

Target  / Indicator

Improved governance, public sector and financial
management, taxation and revenue administration

All departments and villages with up-to-date corporate plans aligned to TNSP by 2012;

  • Number of national and village policies in line with good governance principles and practices endorsed and operational;
  • Percentage of departments and villages produced and tabled Annual Sector Reports aligned to TNSP with COG and General Fono;
  • Number of financial management initiatives (e.g. Superannuation Scheme, Development Bank) endorsed by General Fono, effectively implemented and operational according to legislation;
  • Number of Policy Papers and Reports tabled and decided upon by the General Fono and COG on financial results and economic performance including donor funded projects;
  • Percentage increase in number of public servants trained in good governance, financial and human resources management;
  • Percentage increase in number of staff continuing to work and apply new skills in financial management in the government;
  • Percentage reduction in the number of failures and incidents of non-compliance with Government Policies and Internal Control Procedures;
  • Percentage of departments and villages implement effectively Staff Performance Management and Review processes;
  • Number of financial reports issued and annual audited accounts that meet international standards and within agreed deadlines;
  • Number of outputs achieved against the annual work programme and budget;
  • Percentage increase in government revenue for annual Budget
  • Percentage decrease in cash disbursements by government for village stores operations;
  • Percentage increase in annual revenue (more than $1 million and less than $2 million) considered for transfer for Tokelau general reserve fund; and
  • Percentage increase in annual revenue (more than $2 million) considered for transfer to Tokelau Trust Fund.

Improved application of law

  • Percentage increase in the number of trained and qualified staff working as Law Commissioners, court clerks and police officers;
  • Increasing number of participants taking part in community awareness law workshops;
  • Increasing number of people using legal services;
  • All Village Rules for each village are completed;
  • Percentage increase in the number of laws both at national and village reviewed and / or developed;
  • Percentage increase in number of cases before the Law Commissioner each year for breach of national and / or village laws;
  • All Tokelau Laws are translated.

Enhanced results-based monitoring, review and evaluation

  • Systems for data collection, collation and analysis within departments and villages are established by start 2012;
  •  Number of policies reviewed and developed each year matches the planned schedule;
  • Proportion of targets achieved;
  • MRE policy is developed and implemented

Date updated: March 2016  

Adaptation

Tokelau does not have a formal climate change adaptation strategy.  A climate change adaptation strategy document has been drafted since 2009 but discussions are still yet to be finalized and consideration of the strategy in relation to other plans continues.  For example, the strategy is seen as a supporting strategy of the Tokelau Disaster Risk Reduction Plan and vice versa.

According to the TNSP 2010-2015, the adaptation strategies to mitigate for the impact of climate change on the small atolls of Tokelau, however, require a combination of key things to happen on the ground. These include change in attitude and behaviour; adaptation measures in the provision of all essential services and a greater capital investment to ‘climate-proof’ further infrastructure development.

Tokelau’s strategic adaptation objective that is apparent under the TNSP is to  ensure  that  Tokelau  is  fully  included  as  part  of  the  New  Zealand  (Ministry  for Environment) climate change adaptation and mitigation work programme. 

In terms of addressing coastal adaptation, Tokelau plans to address it through comprehensive costal management and adaptation programmes for all villages and other activities and policies such as energy efficient building design and the use of renewable energy to meet our power demands.

For information on climate change adaptation projects implemented in Tokelau, go to "Related Projects" tab.  

Date updated: March 2016 

Tokelau do not have automated climate weather stations on island and so it is difficult to provide any clear picture on the changes in weather and climate over time for Tokelau.  Tokelau’s climate reports are contingent on those provided by the Samoa Meteorological Office and the Regional Meteorology Office in Nadi Fiji.  Samoa Met Office provides weather forecast on a daily basis for Tokelau over the AM radio (540 AM, 2AP) in both Samoan and Tokelauan languages.

Current Climate

The climate is hot with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and increasing. Severe tropical storms have been more frequent in recent years with cyclones.  The extreme weather conditions are experienced more often with an increasing number of hot days during the year and unusually high temperatures during times of the year when one would normally expect cooler temperatures. As a consequence of coral bleaching, now an annual event, degradation of the coral reefs both inside and outside the lagoon has occurred.

Hotter  temperatures  is  also  affecting  the  health  of  the  general  population,  particularly  the more vulnerable such as those with respiratory ailments or the young and elderly. Coping with the longer spells of hot weather and increasing periods of no rain is stressful and there is a need to mitigate for this risk by improving the water storage systems and ensuring that all families are able to access adequate and safe supplies of water.

Tropical cyclones and storm surges in Tokelau seem to be increasing in numbers.  Recent studies seem to suggest that Tokelau experience more tropical cyclones and storm surges in the current decade relative to two or three decades ago. These include cyclones that hit Tokelau in 1987 (Tusi), 1990 (Ofa), 1991 (Vai) and 2005 (Percy). Notable storm events were recorded for January 1914, December 1925, January 1936, February 1941, December 1957, January 1966, November 1972 and January 197 in 1987, 1990.   Storm surges that have hit Tokelau notably in 1991 and 2005 caused extensive damage to houses and general infrastructure due to the low-lying nature of the atolls. McLean and d’Aubert (1993) recorded that tropical cyclone is rare in Tokelau but Thompson (1886) pointed out that because Tokelau are low lying coral atolls, storm surges and/or gale force winds generated by tropical cyclones several hundreds of kilometres away have devastating effects on the atolls.

The cyclones and storm surges are more intense and the impact of this is evident on the coastal areas which have eroded and some species of plants have noticeably disappeared due to the saline levels of the soil. We have also seen the disappearance of some our smaller islets due to the sea-level rise caused by climate change.

PB Parsons and Brinkerhoff (2010) recorded the following observations from communities in Tokelau:

  • Villages have observed longer hotter dry seasons and changes to the weather patterns, with less rain during the wet season.
  • During droughts households are facing difficulties in rationing water for basic needs such as drinking and sanitation. In some instances the ‘Faipule’ of the  village has to take charge of the available water in the village 
  • Hotter temperatures observed over the past few years have caused people to start watering gardens which they did not have to do in the past.
  • Villages described their top priority as water availability and storage. There is little consistency in how water tanks are sized and subsequently distributed to houses. Newer houses are receiving tanks sized for bigger family sizes; whereas the older houses (with big families) had smaller tanks.
  • Not all available roof catchment areas are utilised by villages for rainwater harvesting.  (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )
  • No accurate rainfall data
  • Current rainwater harvesting systems are basic, are generally in poor condition and do not provide a barrier to organics and pollution entering the system. They have not been installed to an appropriate design criteria, specification or standard.  (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )
  • Storage facilities are generally tanks within the foundations of houses. Due to the materials used to make the concrete, these tanks leak within a short period of time. (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )
  • External plastic tanks are being used more frequently but do not provide the capacity required for each household and are normally used to supplement the foundation tanks. (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )
  • Water demand has increased due to water flush toilets and washing machines
  • There is little knowledge in the villages on water quality, waterborne diseases or water systems in general (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )
  • There is no water quality monitoring and assessment programmes as there is no capacity for it. (Interventions to improve on this issue has been carried out under the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change intervention from 2011-2015.  For more information, go to www.sprep.org/pacc/tokelau )

Future Climate

The following summary is based on Tuvalu’s future climate scenario and adapted for Tokelau. It is repeated here for Tokelau for comparative analysis only. It is made on the basis of exact latitudinal situations and proximity of Tuvalu and Tokelau relative to the key climate drivers that influence both island groups such as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, the South Pacific Convergence Zone and El Nino and La Nina events.  The scenarios are, however relative.  Specific climate science research still needs to be carried out and determined specifically for Tokelau:

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

  • 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);
  • It is not clear whether mean annual rainfall will increase or decrease, the model average indicating little change (low confidence), with more extreme rain events (high confidence);
  • Incidence of drought is projected to decrease slightly (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
  • December–March wave heights and periods are projected to decrease slightly (low confidence).

For detailed information, go to: Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, 2014.

Date updated: March 2016 

Knowledge Management & Education

Tokelauans are well taken care of in terms of access to basic health and education needs through both traditional means as well as government services in place,  however, there  is further room for improvement in these sectors.  Reviews conducted in 2006 and 2008 highlighted the challenges facing Tokelau’s education system. As a result, following the development of a national policy Curriculum Framework, the national curriculum was overhauled and new learning standards introduced. This has already led to better outcomes for students including Years 12 and 13 now being delivered in Tokelau schools. Much remains to be done particularly in bedding down the new framework, as well as addressing school governance, leadership and teacher quality. New Zealand is working with Tokelau on these issues and the relationship is strengthened by the ongoing presence of Volunteer service abroad volunteers on the atolls.

The  mission  of  the  Department  of  Education  (DOE)  in  Tokelau  is  to  “raise  educational achievement,  promote  equality  of  opportunities  and  outcomes  for  all  students,  and improve the quality of education services delivery” (DOE Corporate Plan 2010-2015). The DOE is the lead advisor on the education system to the government.  The DOE’s main functions include:

  • Setting national standards and establishing monitoring systems,
  • Define educational plans,
  • Provide administrative support and education policy advice, and
  • Management and operating the Government of Tokelau Scholarship Scheme.

Tokelau’s National Curriculum Policy Framework (2006) states that the features of Tokelau’s natural environment make it essential that the national curriculum address issues of sustainability at each nuku. Building Tokelau students individual subject capability is critical to help them develop the skills and understanding necessary to meet the challenges of atoll environment and to make responsible and informed choices that sustain Tokelau environment.

For more detailed information, go to [Tokelau Millennium Development Report 2012 link coming soon]

Date updated: March 2016 

Mitigation

Renewable energy is recognised internationally as an important element of a more sustainable energy future. As  the  world  considers  how  best  to  reduce  global  greenhouse  gas  (GHG) emission while meeting ever increasing energy demands, the Government of Tokelau will contribute  to  this  global  objective  by  supporting  an  increase  in  the  amount  of  electricity Tokelauans source from renewable energy.

The renewable energy target is one of the government’s responses to climate change by moving from the use of fossil fuels to that of a combination of solar and bio-fuel to generate power for Tokelau. The Department of Energy Corporate Plan outlines the key objectives for the Department of Energy for the next 3-5 years and in detail outlines this phase in Tokelau’s quest to integrate renewable energy options into our energy mix.

KEY OBJECTIVES

  • To integrate renewable energy into Tokelau’s energy mix;
  • To  improve  power  system  infrastructures  on  generation,  transmission  and distribution;
  • To reduce energy usage through efficiency and conservation gains;
  • To develop and maintain a productive, effective and committed workforce in the energy sector informed about energy legislation, regulations and engineering practices.

STRATEGIES

  • To implement renewable energy project with the generation of power solely from solar and bio-fuel technology;
  • To ensure that renewable energy sources are ecologically sustainable;
  • To develop and implement a maintenance programme that ensures a regular upgrade of the power system infrastructure to the highest standards including power generation, transmission, distribution and power management;
  • To implement an ongoing public campaign to raise the level of consumer awareness on how to minimise energy usage and how to use electricity safely;
  • To  develop  and  implement  a  HR  plan  in  accordance  with  principles  of  equality  of opportunity and ensures that energy staff are trained to the required level and includes succession planning.

Solar power plants and coconut biofuel-powered generators switched on in Tokelau has made the islands the world’s first truly renewable nation.’   The renewable energy system comprising of solar panels, storage batteries and generators running on biofuel derived from coconut will generate enough electricity to meet 150% of the islands’ power demand.

 These systems are part of the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project that has been funded by the New Zealand government and represents one of the largest off-grid renewable energy projects in the world. The atolls have an abundance of unused coconuts since copra production was discontinued around 30 years ago. There are no negative impacts of the project, but several advantages including a reduction in waste oil production and disposal issues. The presence of large lead acid battery banks do pose a potential environmental concern, however adequate training and planned recycling mechanisms will ensure that this risk is mitigated.

Tokelau spends about $829,000 every year to import fuels. The government of Tokelau now plans to spend these savings on other essential services like health and education. The savings will also be used to repay the grants and financial assistance the government needs.

Date updated: March 2016 

Focal points - Climate change & Disaster Risk Management

Climate Change
Mr Junior Thomas Aleta

Acting General Manager
Office of the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau
PO Box 3298
Apia, Samoa
Telephone: (685) 20822/20823
Fax: (685) 21761
Email: seiulialeta@gmail.com

Ms. Alofaaga Puka-Mauga
Senior Policy Advisor
Office of the Council for the Ongoing Govt. of Tokelau
PO Box 3298, Apia, Samoa
Email: akepuka@lesamoa.net;
    
Disaster Risk Management
Mrs Miti Ngau-Chun

Executive Officer
Office of the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau
PO Box 3298
Apia, Samoa
Telephone: (685) 20822/20823
Fax: (685) 21761
Email: mitimiti.ngau-chun@tokelau.org.nz;

Date updated: June 2017  

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 country contacts (focal points) if any documents cannot be accessed through the links.

  1. Australian Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO (2014). Climate Variability, Extremes and Change in the Western Tropical Pacific: New Science and Updated Country Reports. Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program Technical Report, Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Melbourne, Australia
  2. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations, July 2007.
  3. Pacific Disaster Net
  4. Consolidated Sector Report For The Period Up To 30 June 2015, Office Of The Council For The Ongoing Government Of Tokelau, July 2015
  5. Tokelau National Strategic Plan 1 July 2010 – 30 June 2015
  6. Tokelau Millennium Development Report 2012
  7. National Curriculum Policy Framework
  8. Tokelau National Disaster Risk Reduction Plan Draft v7, November 2011

Date updated: March 2016