Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local economic development in Tuvalu

03 May 2022


CLGF Pacific is nearing completion of a year-long local economic development (LED) project in Tuvalu, one of the smallest and most remote countries on Earth with its highest point only 4.6 meters above sea level.


Tuvalu is almost entirely dependent on imports, particularly of food and fuel, and vulnerable to rising sea levels: all of which pose significant challenges, particularly to economic development. Climate change undermines economic, social, and stability efforts, and remains a fundamental cross-cutting issue. Its remoteness, susceptibility to extreme weather events and limited natural resources contribute to its vulnerability to external economic shocks. Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu, is facing the greatest challenges, but also providing the most opportunities, to developing a resilient and sustainable local economy.

Support from Canada

This project, supported by funding from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), aims to promote a vibrant, diversified and sustainable local economy in Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. This was achieved by the Funafuti Town Council and their community, supported by CLGF Pacific and partners, developing and implementing local models and initiatives for climate change adaptation and resilience that provide opportunities for strengthening the local economy.


The project aligns with and takes forward priorities identified in the Funafuti Island Strategic Plan 2021-2024 (Moeakiga o Malefatuga III) and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (2031-2030) which provided directions for promoting the well-being of the Funafuti community and to address the long-term impacts of climate change.


The project was based on similar work successfully carried out by CLGF Pacific and partners in Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Cook Islands by using well tested tools and sequential activities for developing capacity and realistic action plans at the community level.

Green economy

The project began with a three-day training and strategy workshop action-based learning, with 30 Council and community stakeholders, almost all women, being guided through a process of learning about and analysing their local economy, and the tools to develop a Local Economic Development (LED) strategy in the context of climate change. This resulted in a LED Plan for Funafuti which looks to create a blue and green economy in which the whole community participates, picking up any people who would otherwise fall behind. The plan provides for:


  • Establishment of a Business Incubation Centre to encourage growth of local small businesses
  • Review of small business regulations and fees
  • Improved food production from crops that provide better health and food security
  • Establish aquaponics production based on new technology for combining intensive plant and fish production
  • Conduct a seaweed cultivation feasibility assessment
  • Establish processing of wastes to produce compost and fertilizer for use in crop production
  • Process dead coconut trees for economic benefit, such as for building materials, energy and soil improvers
  • Develop a sustainable cultural economy by maintaining and protecting cultural places, materials and skills for cultural tourism and future generations.


Some of these are longer term activities, however already efforts to leverage support for the business incubation centre are showing promise, and funding from CFLI under the project has been provided for a demonstration aquaponics production system that combines production of fruit and vegetables with farming of fish or crustations. Plants are grown above the fishponds without any soil. The equipment has been assessed and procured and is the process of being installed. Training on aquaponics techniques will follow. This initiative will encourage more small scale aquaponics enterprises to be developed by the communities.


CLGF Pacific appreciates the partnership with the Governments of Canada and Tuvalu, ICLEI Oceania, EAROPH Australia, Funafuti Town Council and Funafuti Women’s Association in bringing this project to fruition.


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