The Director of the Environment department Haden Talagi told the gathering that the launch of this report is a product of the contributions of many people including the former premier the late Sir Toke Talagi whose stewardship of Niue’s environmental aspirations culminated in this document. Niue’s very first state of the environment report was produced in 1994.
The report which identified social, economic, and technological, and cultural factors as key drivers that influence Niue society and the environment also identified that climate change is the key driver that will dictate the future of the island.
There are several key themes in Niue’s state of the environment report with atmosphere and climate which assesses the state of Niue’s climate focuses on the physical climate and the threat of rising temperatures and frequent droughts.
Freshwater and access to freshwater where nearly 100 per cent penetration of public water supply and management of water remains a government priority.
Niue’s land use primarily for agricultural purposes has seen the rainforest areas decline to half of what it was. Invasive species and extreme climate events have also contributed to this decline.
The report recognises that marine protection is critical commitment to ensuring improved management of offshore and inshore fisheries stocks and supporting a growing marine based tourism industry.
The status of Niue’s biodiversity has over time seen the loss of some species and the near extinction of others primarily due to human activities. The report says that it is critical for Niueans to understand that conservation is integral management tool towards responsible land tenure and ownership.
Culture and heritage is one thematic area looking at the impacts of societal changes and the relationship with New Zealand and the many advantages as a result of being associated with New Zealand. The report recognises that the majority of Niueans live outside of Niue, the diaspora of Niueans trained abroad means these skills are not utilised in Niue which remains a key challenge for the micro state.
The final key thematic area is the built environment which recognises Niue as having the lowest population of all Pacific islands which makes it easier for the environment to cope with population demands. Energy, waste, and sanitation are the three key challenges with limited landmass to deal with waste as personal consumption increases so do the waste.
At the launch Director General of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Dr. Josie Tamate spoke about waste as key challenge and everyone’s responsibility to manage our waste.
The launch was attended by Premier Dalton Tagelagi, Cabinet ministers, leaders from other ministries of government, and other key stakeholders.