Puneet Varma (Editor)

Sopoaga Ministry

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Date formed  5 August 2013
Member party  Independent
Head of government  Enele Sopoaga
Opposition leader  None
Deputy head of government  Vete Sakaio until 10 April 2015, then Maatia Toafa
Head of state  Queen Elizabeth II (represented by Iakoba Italeli)

The Sopoaga Ministry is the 14th ministry of the Government of Tuvalu, led by Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga. It succeeds the Telavi Ministry upon its swearing in by Governor-General Iakoba Italeli on 5 August 2013.

Contents

Following the 2015 general election, Enele Sopoaga was sworn in as prime minister on 10 April. Enele Sopoaga said his administration will focus on working to make Tuvalu less vulnerable to climate change and global economic forces.

Cabinet

The ministry was sworn in on 5 August 2013. The Sopoaga Ministry includes number of former high profile Tuvaluan politicians returning to cabinet, including Maatia Toafa, who was Prime Minister of Tuvalu from 2004 to 2006 and again in 2010.

In the Tuvaluan general election, 2015 Vete Sakaio, the deputy prime minister and minister for public utilities, was not re-elected to parliament. Following the general election Enele Sopoaga was sworn in as prime minister and appointed the ministers to the cabinet on 10 April. Enele Sopoaga took responsibility for public utilities and appointed Maatia Toafa as deputy prime minister. Satini Manuella was appointed to be the minister for health.

Climate change and renewable energy policies

When he was appointed Prime Minister in 2013, Enele Sopoaga said he would ensure the country was given a strong voice in the fight against climate change.

Enele Sopoaga made a commitment under the Majuro Declaration, which was signed on 5 September 2013, to implement power generation of 100% renewable energy (between 2013 and 2020). This commitment is proposed to be implemented using Solar PV (95% of demand) and biodiesel (5% of demand). The feasibility of wind power generation will be considered.

On 16 January 2014 Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga established the National Advisory Council on Climate Change, which functions are “to identify actions or strategies: to achieve energy efficiencies; to increase the use of renewable energy; to encourage the private sector and NGOs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to ensure a whole of government response to adaptation and climate change related disaster risk reduction; and to encourage the private sector and NGOs to develop locally appropriate technologies for adaptation and climate change mitigation (reductions in [greenhouse gas]).”

Following the 2015 general election, the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) negotiations and the damage cause by Cyclone Pam were the focus of the Sopoaga Ministry.

Improving the governance issues of parliament and Constitutional review

In January 2014 Enele Sopoaga also indicated that reform of parliament will be addressed when parliament resumed in March 2014, with a two-thirds majority of members supporting the prime minister, he said that he wanted “to improve the governance issues of parliament, its rules and procedures, also we need to look at the functions of parliament on legislations, but particularly also on policies, to be more involved and based with the people”. On 3 March 2014 prime minister Sopoaga moved a motion without notice to remove Sir Kamuta Latasi. The motion was carried and Otinielu Tausi was subsequently elected as speaker. Prime minister Sopoaga was reported as not having faith in Sir Kamuta’s judgment because of his rulings during the events leading to the change of government, which Sopoaga described as being flawed by "[a]ll sorts of misinterpretations, misapplications of the Constitution and he was a risk to the good governance of Tuvalu."

In 2016 a 3 year review of the Constitution of Tuvalu commenced. The Tuvalu Constitutional Review Project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Tuvalu. The project will review executive/parliamentary relations and Tuvalu’s commitments under international law. The project will consider the country’s socio-economic and political context, such as the sensitivities over political and religious diversity among Tuvalu’s Christian and religious minorities.

The management of fishery resources

Tuvalu participates in the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) and the Nauru Agreement (which addresses the management of tuna purse seine fishing in the tropical western Pacific). The Sopoaga Ministry has promoted initiatives to develop and sustain the management of its fishery. In 2015 Tuvalu has refused to sell fishing days to certain nations and fleets that have blocked Tuvaluan initiatives to develop and sustain their own fishery. In 2016 Dr Puakena Boreham, the Minister of Natural Resources, drew attention to Article 30 of the WCPF Convention, which describes the collective obligation of members to consider the disproportionate burden that management measures might place on small-island developing states.

Tuvalu’s least developed country (LDC) status

The United Nations designates Tuvalu as a least developed country (LDC) because of its limited potential for economic development, absence of exploitable resources and its small size and vulnerability to external economic and environmental shocks. In 2013 Tuvalu deferred its graduation from least developed country (LDC) status to a developing country to 2015. Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said that this deferral was necessary to maintain access by Tuvalu to the funds provided by the United Nations's National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), as "Once Tuvalu graduates to a developed country, it will not be considered for funding assistance for climate change adaptation programmes like NAPA, which only goes to LDCs". Tuvalu had met targets so that Tuvalu was to graduate from LDC status. Prime minister Sopoaga wants the United Nations to reconsider its criteria for graduation from LDC status as not enough weight is given to the environmental plight of small island states like Tuvalu in the application of the Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI).

References

Sopoaga Ministry Wikipedia


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