SHE Leads Fale Alea 2022 Whole House Committee this morning passed the Building Control and Standards Amendment Bill 2022.
All (27) SLF MPs present in Parliament voted in favour of the Bill.
The Bill tabled by SLF Ha’apai No. 1 Noble Representative Siutiti Saafi proposed two amendments to clauses 5 and 19 of the Principal Act.
Section 5 was amended to require the Building Control Authority to recognise and include natural disasters resilience and climate change considerations upon reviewing of the National Building Code and the Regulations.
Section 19 was also amended to give the Minister the authority to make regulations that would integrate climate change resilience into the National Building Code.
It also gives the Minister responsible for Infrastructure, the power to make regulations to prescribe building and planning standards to integrate resilience in climate change into the National Building Code.
Tonga is one of the most vulnerable small island countries in the world that is highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. According to the Global Climate Risk Index (2013), Tonga is ranked among the top 100 countries in the world most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
The most frequent natural disasters in Tonga are hurricanes and tropical cyclones. In 2018-2021, two major tropical cyclones occurred in Tonga, TC Gita in 2018 and TC Harold 2020. In 2018, TC Gita affected four thousand (4000) buildings; eight hundred (800) of them were completely destroyed. In 2020, TC Harold affected four hundred and twenty-nine (429) buildings. After every cyclone/hurricane, the Government would spend millions of dollars in rebuilding and recovery.
The National Building Code provides the minimum necessary requirements for safety, accessibility and sustainability in the design, construction, performance and liveability. But our community are facing unprecedented challenges of responding to the increasing number, intensity and frequency of natural disaster events, driven by climate change. In turn, buildings and infrastructure also face these changing risks and new challenges.
It is time to adapt to the impacts of climate change, explore new approaches to address these challenges and act accordingly.
For that reason, the Building Control and Standards (Amendment) Bill 2022 proposes to add to the powers of the Building Control Authority the responsibility to ensure that natural disasters resilience and climate change considerations are included when they review the National Building Code and the Regulations.
The Bill also gives the Minister responsible for Infrastructure, the power to make regulations to prescribe building and planning standards to integrate resilience in climate change into the National Building Code.