Groundbreaking ceremony in Funafuti for Tuvalu's coastal adaptation

December 6, 2022

Honorable Prime Minister, H.E. Kausea Natano

Honorable Cabinet Ministers

Honorable Samuelu Teo,  Speaker of the Parliament of Tuvalu

Honorable Members of Parliament

H.E. Robin Mckenzie, Australian High Commissioner to Tuvalu

Mr. Siose P Teo, Chief, Funafuti Kaupule

Mr. Semi Vine, Pule Kaupule o Funafuti

Senior Officials of the Government of Tuvalu

Colleagues and esteemed guests

Talofa and good afternoon to you all.

It is my privilege to join this much-awaited ceremony marking the beginning of the construction phase of the 200 km square of land for the people of Tuvalu through the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project launched in 2017. Tuvalu is the first country in the Pacific to access climate finance from Green Climate Fund through UNDP support. Therefore, TCAP is an ambitious and important project, one focused on long-term resilience for Tuvalu and its people in helping achieve the 2030 Development Agenda.

TCAP has been carefully building to this moment and despite challenges along the way and weathering the difficulties and impacts of COVID-19, it has been quietly progressing and has now become tangible here in Funafuti. TCAP is also implementing capital works on the outer islands of Nanumea and Nanumaga aimed at reducing exposure to coastal hazards. Most recently, there has been considerable progress by Hall Pacific, a contracted company, to pre-fabricate and prepare materials to begin work on the two islands. 

TCAP has also brought considerable benefits through its other objectives in building capacity and strengthening partnerships with agencies such as the Pacific Community (SPC) to develop national marine flooding and wave inundation modeling products. This will become available on a dedicated website, which is currently being developed. This marine hazards portal will allow the people of Tuvalu, including women, youth, people living with disability, to view any location across Tuvalu’s nine islands and gather accurate information regarding marine hazards, shoreline process and sea level rise. 

TCAP has been made possible through the steadfast support of the Tuvalu stakeholders, the Government, local Kaupule’s and communities. From its earliest inception, through technical re-design and delays related to COVID-19, UNDP is aware that we are only where we are today because of this close partnership and continued support.

Today, we focus on the Funafuti reclamation - 780 meters long and 100 meters wide - and designed to remain above sea level rise and the reach of storm waves beyond the year 2100.

Designed using the best available science, informed social, environmental risks management, projections, modeling, and using around 270,000 cubic meters of sand - Funafuti’s reclamation is TCAP’s largest coastal protection work and includes the construction of a small harbour that will provide safe, all-tide access to local fishing vessels. 

The achievements of TCAP will be significant with an expected total of 2,780 meters of vulnerable coastline across Funafuti, Nanumea and Nanumaga being made more resilient and provide improved protection to people's homes, schools and hospitals.

I would like to again take this opportunity to thank Green Climate Fund for their generous support and recognise the excellent contribution and partnership UNDP has enjoyed with the Government to deliver the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project. I also would like to thank the Australian Government who, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), has recently agreed to provide further financial support of AU$2 million to TCAP, to assist in covering additional costs related to COVID-19.

Finally, of pivotal importance has been the personal interest and support shown by the Honorable Prime Minister, H.E. Kausea Natano; the National Delegation Authority and Chair of TCAP Board, Hon. Seve Paeniu the Minister of Finance; the Minister for Public Utilities and Environment; the Funafuti, Nanumaga and Nanumea Falekaupule and Kaupules and all other Government ministries and stakeholders.

I must also thank our partners, SPC and Hall Pacific, who have shown enormous flexibility and professionalism, and a willingness to work with all parties to ensure TCAP is a success. And finally, please allow me to also mention the TCAP Team, both local and international that have so diligently progressed this important project - thank you.  

Thank you again for your support and for being with us today and hope that we see you again when the construction is completed. 

Fakafetai lasi.