Tonga holds Annual Planners Forum to advance Risk-Informed Development in its national planning

December 19, 2022

Panel Discussion: From left: Dr. Sivendra Michael, Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor, Mr. Laitia Fifita, Deputy Director of Meteorology Services Department, Mrs. Moana Kioa, Principal Assistant Secretary of NEMO, Mr. Taniela Hoponoa, Project Manager FAO, Ms. Kiu Futuna Tatafu, Senior Economist National Planning.

Photo: UNDP

Nukualofa, Tonga – The Government of Tonga’s National Planning Division in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) held their Annual Planner’s Forum in the capital Nuku'alofa recently. 

The three-day forum was held at the Fa’onelua Convention Center from 13- 16 December in the presence of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a Ulukalala, the Hon. Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and officials across Government, Civil Society Organizations and Non-Government Organizations.

Bringing together over 120 government participants including approximately 70 women, the objectives of this year’s Planner’s Forum included facilitating peer learning and knowledge exchange; (ii)deepen familiarity with the use of the National Planning Process, promoting interactive dialogue, and identifying practical follow-up actions. Central to this year’s agenda is enhancing understanding of “Risk-informed Development and Disaster Risk Management” and how this is integrated into national planning and budgeting processes.

While delivering the keynote address, the Prime Minister, Hon. Hu’akavameiliku shared how the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption and tsunami had left the nation in a state of devastation some 11 months ago, with many forced to reside in temporary shelters and some still in the process of permanent relocation.

The Hon. Prime Minister emphasized, “the theme of this forum reminds us that our focus should not be on the magnitude and how disastrous the natural hazards may be, rather our responsibility is to remain vigilant through ensuring that all our development is being risk-informed”.  

Towards the end of his remarks, he called on participants to “start thinking outside the box and bring innovative ideas into decision-making spaces for leaders”.

Echoing similar calls to action, Levan Bouadze, the Resident Representative of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji said, “We must acknowledge the fact that community ownership and leadership is a core ingredient of strengthening governance structures, so we must build on our existing platforms to strengthen national planning and development prioritization processes”.  This work is made possible by UNDP through the Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific Project (Gov4Res) and the Tonga Recovery Project. 

During the opening session, participants were encouraged to take part in an open dialogue and to use the forum as an opportunity to deepen and enhance their knowledge on how to strengthen the integration of resilience measures across all development planning and budgeting systems in Tonga.


Meeting participants in Tonga

Photo: UNDP

Throughout the forum, participants stressed the need to have more collaboration, to improve recognition of the underlying drivers of risk and strengthen risk integration across all development initiatives. The National Planning Division collected feedback throughout the event and will be utilizing this to strengthen national processes and identify key priorities for the team for the coming year.

The Gov4Res Project works with Pacific Island governments to ensure that countries adapt their decision making and governance systems towards more risk-informed development. The Project, implemented by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji is partnering with a range of partners including the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). 


The Annual Planners Forum was established in 2017, two years after the Tonga Strategic Development Framework II 2015-2025 was implemented. This was motivated by the desire to ensure that the TSDF II is mainstreamed and implemented in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Simultaneously, the need to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), S.A.M.O.A Pathway, SENDAI, and ADDIS ABABA, among other global frameworks, must be carried out in a way that does not overwhelm current processes and stretch the limited resources available, but rather aligns them to national processes, paving the way for national ownership and fostering the establishment of a long-term and genuine partnership.

The UNDP Gov4Res project supports the National Planning Division, as well as the Ministry of Finance to adopt a risk-informed approach to existing planning and budgeting processes, to effectively consider and appropriately finance priority cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, disaster risk and gender and social inclusion.

For media related inquiries, please contact:

Lisa Buggy, Risk Informed Development Specialist, Gov4Res Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Email:; (T): +679 332-7529