An underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga a week ago triggered a tsunami that wiped out communications, destroyed homes and has left several people dead. This is just another reminder of the vulnerability of small island states to natural disasters, which will only become more frequent due to climate change.
In an Urgent Question in Parliament, the Minister talked about aid and climate finance for Tonga, but, like many small island states, Tonga is struggling to repay its debts; this year it’s expected to repay $18.5 million. There’s little point in giving with one hand, when taking away with the other.
Nations like Tonga will struggle to rebuild in the wake of natural disasters, or adapt to prevent future catastrophes, unless global players like the IMF, World Bank and G20 get together to help them with debt restructuring and debt relief.
I asked the Minister what the Government is doing to reform these mechanisms and support nations like Tonga struggling with unsustainable debts. Her answer was not exactly convincing.