Tonga Fellowship on the Environment and Ocean 2018 Presentation on Marine Spatial Planning in Tonga

Date/Location​: Wednesday December 19th, 2018; 13:00 to 15:00; Conference Room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Tonga Fellowship fellows ‘Amelia Fa’otusia, Adi Talanavini Mafi, and ‘Elisapeti Veikoso


Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

This presentation by the Tonga Fellowship on the Environment and Ocean featured 3 fellows presenting their work. The annual fellowship allows young civil servants with technical experience to work in New York for a year studying oceans and the environment. This year’s three fellows, ‘Amelia Fa’otusia, Adi Talanavini Mafi, and ‘Elisapeti Veikoso, discussed their work during this committee session regarding proposed reforms to Marine Spatial Planning in Tonga. Marine Spatial Planning is the process of analyzing and allocating parts of the three-dimensional marine spaces to specific uses, to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that are usually specified through the political process. The fellows looked to previous work on this topic to choose their subject, including UN reviews and the MACBIO project, Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management in Pacific Island Countries. They then conducted a literature review, identified and analyzed case studies, distinguished enabling factors, and applied their work to Tonga. Identified enabling factors include effective planning, institutional arrangements and governance, stakeholder engagement, behavioral change. Mafi explained that these factors work as a combined package. If applied together, they can greatly improve Tonga’s marine spatial planning efforts.

Veikoso noted Tonga’s current progress and standing in regards to these enabling factors. To successfully implement the factors there are several steps:

  1. Identifying need and establishing authority
  2. Obtaining financial support
  3. Organizing the MSP Process
  4. Organizing the MSP Process through pre-planning and stakeholder participation
  5. Defining and analyzing existing conditions
  6. Defining and analyzing of future conditions
  7. Preparing and approving the planning process

As Fa’otusia noted, due to Tonga’s geographical distribution into small, separate islands, it’s biggest challenge is stakeholder engagement across the islands. This is one obstacle alongside others Tonga will have to overcome in its work for successful marine spatial planning.


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