Crown Prince visits climate-threatened Pacific islands

Crown Prince HaakonCrown Prince Haakon.Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Several Pacific islands are in danger of disappearing if the sea level continues to rise. On Friday, Crown Prince Haakon and the Minister of Development are to land on Tonga.

Sea and climate are on the program when the Crown Prince and Minister for Developmental Affairs, Dag Inge Ulstein of Kristelig Folkeparti (KrF) visit Tonga, and then Fiji and Samoa in the South Pacific next week.

‘’This tour is important because it gives us the opportunity to put climate and sea – two of the most important topics of the time – on the agenda’’ said Ulstein to NTB news.


Tonga is one of several Pacific countries threatened by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. The melting of the glaciers on the poles has resulted in sea levels around Tonga rising more than 7 millimeters annually since 1993, which is more than the world average of 3.2 millimeters according to last year’s climate report. The rising sea level threatens, among other things, agriculture, which is the country’s main industry.

Rising sea level has also put people on the move. Already there are many communities on some islands that have had to move to other islands because higher water levels made it impossible to live there. Local infrastructure at sea level must be rebuilt each year because roads disappear underwater and the number of storms increases.

Looking forward to the meeting

How climate change has already affected Friendship islands, which Tonga is also called, and is something the Crown Prince and the Minister of Development will see with their own eyes.

‘’I really look forward to meeting those living on these Pacific Islands, who experience climate change literally in their body.

Despite the fact that they are not the ones that pollute the most, either with emissions or with rubbish in the sea, they pay a much higher price than we do’’ said Ulstein.

Peace and security

The purpose of the visit is to strengthen the partnership with island states in the South Pacific, to promote common interests in the UN and for international cooperation, including in matters of sea, climate, peace, and security.

On Friday, the Crown Prince and Assistant Minister will be received in the palace in the capital Nuku’alofa by King Tupou VI. On Saturday, field visits to Tonga are on the program.

On Monday, the Crown Prince and the Minister of Development are in Fiji for political meetings. There, they will meet President Jioji Konusi Konrote and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in the capital, Suva.

University Visit

On Tuesday they will visit the University of the South Pacific, which is headquartered in Fiji with campuses in twelve Pacific countries.

The Crown Prince will talk to students about sustainable development, sea, and climate.

Like Tonga, Fiji is also a country threatened by climate change. In Samoa this will also be the theme.

The Crown Prince is the first in the Norwegian royal family to officially visit Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today