Safeguarding our shores: addressing the climate crisis together

Small island nations face the brunt of the climate crisis. How do we protect paradise? 

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The ISO Annual Meeting will be held in Brisbane, Australia, on 18-22 September 2023. ISO and its members join ranks with world change makers to showcase how International Standards help tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Published in the lead-up to the event, our series of guest articles provides insight into a variety of topics that will be discussed during the week.

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Crossley Tatui
Minister for Infrastructure and Finance, Government of Niue

At the heart of humanity is the battle to survive the many challenges of life. The reality is, people and planet coexist in an imperfect world. This decade in particular has put in sharp relief just how precious that balance is. The growing and unpredictable threat of climate change is clear. The world must answer a serious emergency call. 

Niue is a raised atoll paradise in the Pacific Ocean. But however remote, paradise islands are not immune to the ravages of climate change – on the contrary. Niue has experienced tropical cyclones and droughts over the past 70 years. This is despite the fact that Niue has contributed virtually nothing to the pollution causing this global disaster. 

The citizens of Niue are compelled by their shared dream of creating a country that is beautiful, peaceful and prosperous. We do this by focusing on our relationship with Mother Earth, health and wellbeing, economic development, better energy solutions, political stability and food security. But in today’s reality, we cannot achieve this dream without international collaboration. 

On the climate crisis front 

In 1995, Niue welcomed families from Tuvalu forced to relocate due to rising sea levels. This was to be foreshadowing of our own woes. In 2004, Niue was devastated by a fierce Category 5 tropical cyclone. Sea waves reached 70 m inland in parts of the main town, causing deaths. On the west coast, homes and public properties were destroyed, forcing relocation for some families to the upper terrace of the island. However, many could not afford to relocate and remain under threat to this day. 

The total estimated cost of damage amounts to over USD 100 million, but more significantly, the cyclone scarred the hearts and souls of our people. 

Almost 20 years later, the National Disaster Management Office works closely with the Niue Meteorological Office, which gathers daily weather information to put in place contingency plans. But even without the imminent risk of cyclones, rainfall and temperatures are predicted to continue rising, impacting our health, marine life and agriculture. 

However remote, paradise islands are not immune to the ravages of climate change. 

Government in action 

Our government has mobilized – and continues to mobilize – significant resources to face the threat and mitigate its risks. The Niue Climate Change Policy, in effect since 2009, guides appropriate policy response measures across all sectors to enhance the resilience and adaptability of Niue.  

A national consultation was held in July 2021 on climate mobility, attended by representatives from government, civil society, academia and the private sector. More recently, in June of this year, the new government introduced a distinct climate change portfolio under Premier Dalton Tagelagi. This decision complements the “Niue ko Kaina” (Niue-My Home) strategy document. 

In part, Niue’s climate goals will be achieved by raising awareness of the crisis amongst our people and empowering them to become agents of change. In other parts, the policy aims to bolster the collection and storage of climate data and build strong relationships with NGOs and private entities to aid in national climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. But overall, real change must come from national and international collaboration. 

The big picture 

It is our earnest desire to realize our forebears’ vision. But today, Niue expects to see extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity. It is imperative to strengthen adaptation and risk reduction measures to enhance our resilience to natural disasters. But if there is one lesson we have learned from the past decade, it is that small islands like ours are part of a much wider world. We cannot do it alone. 

Niue continues to value regional partnership, but if we are to face this crisis head-on, collaboration must be truly global. International Standards can align all actors, regardless of their size, in a single shared dream. For Niue, conserving and protecting its natural environment, biological diversity, marine resources, and its people, culture, language, heritage and identity are paramount for present and future generations. It is doing as much as possible with whatever resources are available to us to promote and keep the Niuean Taoga and paradise on earth alive. Through International Standards, we can create a framework allowing our ambition to echo through the whole world. 

We must remain united to shoulder the legacy of our small paradise. 


About Crossley Tatui

Hon. Crossley Tatui is currently serving his second term as Minister of Finance and Infrastructure. Throughout his remarkable career, devoted to public service, he has played a pivotal role in securing funding and resources for climate resilience projects. A strong and passionate voice in the climate arena, Crossley is actively involved in international climate negotiations, advocating for Niue’s interests on the global stage.  

Hon. Crossley Tatui will be speaking at the upcoming ISO Annual Meeting. Join the online session “Preserving paradise: Climate adaptation for vulnerable islands” to learn how global collaboration can help turn the tide on climate change for the world’s most vulnerable islands. Register here 



About the ISO Annual Meeting

The ISO Annual Meeting is the world’s premier event for the international standards community. It convenes 168 national standards bodies from around the world, as well as an impressive range of government, industry and civil society representatives. This high-level forum is a unique opportunity to engage in timely discussion on emerging trends and challenges related to International Standards and their role in achieving the global sustainable development agenda.

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