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First Ever Inclusive Virtual Island-Wide Multi-Sectoral Consultation to Amplify the Voices of the People of Tonga

Source: 
Civil Society Forum of Tonga

The Civil Society Forum of Tonga in collaboration with Pacific Island Association of Non-Government Organization (PIANGO), Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (FWCT) and the Pacific Conference of Churches will convene a first-ever virtual island-wide multi-sectoral meeting to highlight the voices of the people on the issue of sea bed mining. 

With the theme “FOFOLA E FALA- MALU’I HOTAU MOU’I’ANGA (OSENI).” Ke tolonga e uho ’o e FAKATUPU ’oku ne fafanga e To’utangata ki he To’utangata which means “sustaining people’s livelihood,” the meeting will take place tomorrow (November 3) focusing on the essence of the livelihood of the Kingdom of Tonga.

The Kingdom-wide Zoom consultation gives an opportunity to the people of Niua’s, Vava’u, Ha’apai, ’Eua and Tongatapu to voice their concerns should government decides to proceed with deep sea mining.

CSFT Board Chair Drew Havea said, “Deep Sea Mining is about the people.”

“It is not about the money nor the science, this is about the tourist operators, the whale watchers, the commercial fishermen, the coastal fisherman and fisher women, people living with disabilities, women and coastal communities whose livelihood will be taken away by Deep Sea Mining,” Mr. Havea added. 

He said the emphasis here lies at the heart of addressing the various shocks and stresses ushered in by hazard events. 

“We need to protect the womb and umbilical cord that sustains us. Let’s build the resilience of Tonga, the resilience of the Pacific region and the resilience all of us connected by the Ocean,” Mr. Havea said. 

Mr. Havea said such actions, if not monitored, will destroy the very fabric (biodiversity) of the Ocean that sustains the Livelihood of the people of Tonga.

The Tongan Government has sponsored TOML (Tonga Offshore Mineral Limited) to explore the area.

Mr. Havea said Deep Sea Mining is about the sponsoring States’ responsibilities and obligations. 

“If TOML violates its contractual obligation with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – the State (PEOPLE OF TONGA) will have to foot the bills,” he said.

He urged the participants to use the opportunity and make their voices count and be heard.

Civil Society Forum of Tonga  P.O. Box 644 Baron Rd, Vaiola Motua, Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga Tel: (676) 28-282 or 28-140    Fax: (676) 26-488   Email: [email protected]