V. MULTILATERAL TRADE AND ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS, AND DOMESTIC POLICY FORMULATION
E. International agreements and domestic policy
Despite the affiliation of Tonga to quite a number of international and regional environmental agreements over the past decade or so, there has essentially been no significant incorporation of elements of those agreements into national domestic policies. Some of the major reasons have been over-riding concern with economic growth, a feeling of "subsistence affluence", little awareness of the true dimension of the current and potential environmental problems, a lack of awareness and appreciation of the agreements and their implications for Tonga. Also of critical importance is the lack of political will to seriously face up to the environmental issues.
Compliance with environmental requirements in aid-funded activities is done on a project-by-project basis rather than as a matter of domestic policy. Projects are selected for DCC consideration by the individual ministries/departments, statutory boards or private enterprises. Although the bulk of the projects are not environmental in nature, per se, many do have an impact on the environment and EIAs are required by the donors. It could be that the increase in environmental projects is simply the result of the increased funding made available by aid donors, rather than as a perceived need. The environment is only one of many priorities in the view of the donor countries and it does not clash in any way with the policy of economic growth and development pursued by the government. In fact, it could be said that the environmental priorities of the donors supplement the development policies of the government.
However, as more and more awareness-raising and educational programmes are implemented, and as media channels (especially TV and radio) inform the public of the true dimensions of the environmental problems confronting the country, the government will need to undertake more and more of the obligations set out in the international treaties of which Tonga is a member.