Tuvalu National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA)


National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) provide a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their immediate needs to adapt to climate change, ultimately leading to the implementation of projects aimed at reducing the economic and social costs of climate change.

Climate Related Hazards

  • Salt water intrusion
  • Coastal zone inundation
  • Drought and low flows
  • Storm surge
  • Cyclones

Project details

Tuvalu is an extremely small, isolated atoll island nation, located approximately halfway between Australia and Hawaii and consisting of widely scattered, low-lying islands.  The country rarely exceed 3 metres above mean sea level. At its widest point, Tuvalu only spans about 200 meters. Classified as a least-developed country, the islands contain very few natural resources.  The primary economic activities of the country are subsistence farming and fishing; income from foreign aid is an important part of the economy.  Tuvalu also sells some stamps, coins and, in the last 10 years, has sold use of their Internet domain “.tv”—an action that contributes a substantial amount of revenue to their overall Gross Domestic Product (CIA, 2011).

With its limited resource base, Tuvalu is extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, variability and extreme weather events. Some of Tuvalu’s adaptation projects include: the development of a disaster plan, the plant-a-tree programme, community water tank projects and seawall construction. Temperatures in Tuvalu range between 26.0 – 32.0 degrees Celsius. The wet season (October – March) brings tropical cyclones which inflict extensive damage on local infrastructure, agriculture and major food sources. The dry season (June – September) is characterised by an increasing number of droughts which contribute to the depletion of freshwater sources.

The main source of freshwater in Tuvalu is rainwater. Groundwater resources are no longer suitable for human consumption due to pollution from saltwater instrusion caused by rising sea levels. Salinity intrusion enhanced by the porosity of soil in Tuvalu has destroyed pulaka crops and decreased the yields of various other fruit trees. Rising sea levels combined with extreme weather events is contributing to the inundation of low lying areas. Coastal erosion is a major problem in Tuvalu, particularly on the western side of the islands. As most Tuvaluans live within coastal areas, additional stress is being placed on the already vulnerable marine ecosystem. Rising sea temperatures are also contributing to coral bleaching and decreasing marine productivity. The marine ecosystem is a vital component of Tuvalu’s economy which is dependent on revenue provided by tuna fishing.

Main Human Vulnerabilities and Livelihood Impacts

  • Hydrology and water resources
  • Coastal zone and marine ecosystems
  • Agriculture, agro forestry and food security
  • Human health
  • Human settlements and infrastructure
  • Reduced agricultural production
  • Reduced fishery productivity
  • Water shortage and/or groundwater depletion
  • Flooding
  • Increased disease and/or other health problems
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Food security
  • Displacement of people
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Loss of land or degradation

Adaptation Needs and Priorities

The main  climate change vulnerability  of Tuvalu is sea level rise; none of its islands are more three meters above sea level (MNRE, 1999). Other concerns are rising temperatures, a potential increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, increased coastal erosion, and  threats to  the  food supply, freshwater resources and human health.  Changes already observed within Tuvalu include saltwater intrusions, collapsed seawalls, enhancement of salt-tolerant trees and less productive land.
Through its Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Tuvalu identified its main  areas  for  adaptation as being human health,  agriculture, and  water quality. Actions put forward included: completion of environment impact assessments for all new projects; development of a comprehensive set of policies around climate change; incorporation of climate change issues into primary and secondary schools;  and  radio programs, leaflets, essay competitions, poster competitions, national workshops and visits to outer islands to promote education and awareness on climate change and sea level rise (MNRE, 1999).  More recently, Tuvalu has refined identification of its key priorities for adaptation, which are presented in order of priority as being (MNRE, 2007):
  • Coastal Areas: Increasing resilience of coastal areas and settlements to climate change.
  • Agricultural: Increasing subsistence pit grown pulaka productivity through introduction of a salt-tolerant pulaka species.
  • Freshwater: Adaptation to frequent water shortages through increasing household water capacity, water collection accessories,water conservation techniques, and constuction of seawalls to minimize salt water intrusions.
  • Human Health: Strengthening of  community  health through control of vector borne/climate sensitive diseases and promoting
    access to quality potable water.
  • Fisheries: Strengthening of  community based conservation programs focused on  highly vulnerable  near-shore  coastal shellfish 
    fisheries resources and coral reef ecosystem productivity.
  • Marine Ecosystems: Increase information on the relationship between marine productivity and climate change.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction: Strengthening community disaster preparedness and response potential. 
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
The Tuvalu Initial National Communication, released in 1999, documents some of the early identified needs and vulnerabilities of the country. It set the stage for development of Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). Released in 2007, the NAPA provides detailed information about the current and possible future impacts of climate change on this island nation. The need to adapt to the impacts of climate change is also highlighted in Tuvalu’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development for the period of 2005 to 2015. Within this document, Tuvalu sets as a goal the establishment of national climate change policy addressing both mitigation and adaptation. To this end, in May 2011, it was announced that the government of Tuvalu will work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the “Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change” (PACC) project to develop a climate change policy. Funding has been provided by the Global Environment Facility, and a project team comprised of governmental and international experts established. The government envisions that a climate change policy will assist in the coordination and implementation of mitigation and adaptation strategies (SPREP, 2011).
Current Adaptation Action
A  relatively moderate amount of  adaptation actions are underway in Tuvalu, predominately through its involvement in a number of regional climate change projects.  Most of the programs focus on coastal zone management, agriculture and water—consistent with country’s top three priority areas for adaptation. Tuvalu has also received funding from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to support implementation of the project “Increasing Resilience of Coastal Areas and Community Settlement to Climate Change,” which was identified as the countries more urgent and immediate need for adaptation action in its NAPA.
Proposed Adaptation Action
Many of the projects outlined in  Tuvalu’s  NAPA focus on capacity building in coastal zone management, marine resources management, human health and agriculture. Many of the projects have secondary goals of education or sustainable development (MNRE, 2007). 

Additional References

Ministry of Natural Resources and Enviroment [MNRE] (1999). Tuvalu Intial National Communication under the United Nations Framework 
Convention on Climate Change. Retrieved February 2011.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment [MNRE] (2007). Tuvalu's National Adaptation Programme of Action. Retrieved from 


Signature programmes: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Through improved capacity building and project identification, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
NAPA Tuvalu
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Department of Environment, Governmant of Tuvalu
Ministry of Natural Resources, Government of Tuvalu
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
Co-financing total: 

Key results and outputs

Priority Adaptation Projects

  • Increasing resilience of coastal areas and settlement to climate change
  • Increasing subsistence pit grown pulaka productivity through introduction of a salt-tolerant pulaka species
  • Adaptation to frequent water shortages through increasing household water capacity, water collection accessories, and water conservation techniques
  • Protecting community health through control of vector borne/climate sensitive diseases and promoting community access to quality potable water
  • Strengthening of community based conservation programmes on highly vulnerable near-shore marine ecosystems
  • Strengthening community disaster preparedness and response potential
  • Adaptation to near-shore coastal shellfish fisheries resources and coral reef ecosystem productivity
Project Components:
  • Project Implementation and Management
  • National and community-based activities
  • Preliminary Adaptation Activities
  • Preparation and Endorsement of the NAPA
Expected Outputs:
  • The endorsed NAPA document, submitted to relevant international and bilateral organizations for their consideration
  • Tuvaluan and English versions of the NAPA document
  • Widespread awareness and acceptance of the NAPA, by Government, the private sector and civil society, assisted by the efforts of key players and opinion leaders


Reports and publications

Communications Products
Plans and policies of relevance to NAPs for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)


Essential Adaptation: Planning for Climate Change

The fourth smallest nation in the world - Tuvalu - consists of nine low-lying islands with the landmass of 26km2 in the vast ocean of the South Pacific. While most news headlines on climate change tend to emphasize, quite rightly, the existential threats on this tiny nation from sea-level rise, there are many other aspects of climate change impacts that have received less attention by the international community than they deserve, but have extraordinary impacts on communities' vulnerability.


Yusuke Taishi
Regional Technical Advisor
Emma Sale-Mario
Country Officer