Category Archives: Kiribati

Kiribati

Obama welcomes Kiribati diplomat

Kiribati familyBairiki, Tarawa – 27 May 2014

The President of the United States of America, His Excellency Barack Obama welcomed Kiribati’s Ambassador to the United States – Her Excellency Makurita Baaro, at the White House Oval Office in a Presentation of Credential ceremony last week.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Baaro conveyed the warm greetings of President Anote Tong, the Government and people of Kiribati to President Obama and his family and through him to the Government and people of the United States.

Ambassador Baaro highlighted the importance that Kiribati accords to its historic ties and relationship with the Government and people of the United States and her commitment and that of her country to work on strengthening these diplomatic and people to people ties during her tenure as Kiribati Ambassador to the United States.

Ambassador Baaro also highlighted during the credentials ceremony the challenges facing her people from climate change and the need for global action to address the plight of frontline states like Kiribati who are now experiencing these challenges from rise in sea levels, coastal erosion, ocean acidification and the growing brackishness of ground water sources.

“We are doing what we can at the national level to address these challenges but Kiribati just cannot do it alone,” She added.

Ambassador Baaro emphasized that “This is one challenge that is larger than any of us and one that requires collective global action. We look to the global leadership of the United States of America to assist frontline states like Kiribati to mobilise and gain the much needed traction for global action to address the climate calamity that is not only affecting us. It is affecting us now but will eventually affect the whole global community.”

In extending a warm welcome to Ambassador Baaro, President Obama said that “your presence in the United States is very timely because of the compelling and sobering story Kiribati has to share with the world regarding the threat climate change poses to your people. As Ambassador to United States and Permanent Representative to the UN, I encourage you to be a strong advocate for an ambitious global response to climate change.”

President Obama added that “The United States stands with you in this mission, both for the sake of your people’s posterity and ours”

Ambassador Makurita Baaro is the first resident Kiribati Ambassador accredited to the United States of America.

The very first Kiribati Roving Ambassador to the United States was His Excellency Atanraoi Baiteke who was also the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Kiribati after the country gained independence in 1979.

Kiribati and the United States enjoy a close relationship since establishing diplomatic relations in 1980. The two countries work closely together on a broad range of issues, from strengthening regional security, to promoting sustainable development and addressing climate change, to protecting fisheries and the environment.

Kiribati and Fiji Presidents and the First Ladies at the State House Mwaneaba

Fiji Supports Kiribati On Sea Level Rise

HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau delivers his speech during the State House Function in Tarawa, Kiribati

HE Ratu Epeli Nailatikau delivers his speech during the State House Function in Tarawa, Kiribati

Press Release SUVA, Fiji, 11 February 2014

Fiji will ensure that the people of Kiribati have a home if their country is submerged by the rising sea level as a result of climate change, said the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

The president made the announcement during his state visit to Kiribati this week, confirming the suggestion made recently by Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, that Fiji would assist Kiribati in any way it could.

If the sea level continues to rise at its current rate, Kiribati, a nation of low lying atolls, faces the likelihood of complete submersion by the end of the century if not sooner, threatening the country’s very existence.

Kiribati has already purchased 6,000 acres of land on Fiji’s second biggest island, Vanua Levu, to ensure its food security as the sea encroaches on its arable land.

Speaking at a state dinner hosted by Kiribati President Anote Tong on Tuesday, the Fijian president announced that some or all of the people of Kiribati would be able to migrate to Fiji with dignity if the need arose.

“Fiji will not turn its back on our  neighbors in their hour of need,” he said. “I want to assure you all that Fiji will stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you  face this crisis, as well as in doing everything possible to try to avert it. In  a worst case scenario and if all else fails, you will not be refugees.”

Such a migration is not without precedent. Fiji has previously accepted the Banaban people when  they were forced to leave Ocean Island – one of Kiribati’s thirty-three islands – because of the  pressure of phosphate mining there.

“These people now live in Fiji but have  their own seat in the parliament of Kiribati and if necessary, we will do it again,” the president said.

“The spirit of the people of Kiribati will  not be extinguished. It will live on somewhere else because a nation isn’t only  a physical place. A nation – and the sense of belonging that comes with it –  exists in the hearts and the minds of its citizens wherever they may be,” he  said.

The president added that Fiji is  especially keen to lead and assist the Pacific region’s effort to persuade the  rest of the world to finally take decisive action on climate change.

“It is simply not acceptable for the world to stand by and watch the republic  of Kiribati – a sovereign nation and a member  of the United Nations – sink slowly beneath the waves,” the President said on  Tuesday.

He said that Fiji is using every possible  means at the United Nations and in its agencies to draw attention to the plight  Pacific island nations face and the selfishness of the big carbon polluters in  putting their interests above all else.

He added that the issue of climate change matters not just to the people of  Kiribati, but to every Pacific Islander.

“For example, in Fiji, we have already had  to move one village altogether out of the way of the rising sea, and a  second will soon be relocated, and a further 676 communities throughout the  nation are threatened in some way” he said.

Read more:  http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1732761#ixzz2toRgdI9D
Also read: Fiji President visits Kiribati, Fiji will not turn its back on Kiribati,
government land purchase within grasp

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Residents stand by the site of their former village, Tebunginako, now inundated by the sea.  Photo: Justin McManus, The Age.

Global Climate efforts to be renewed at Pacific Summit

Residents stand by the site of their former village, Tebunginako, now inundated by the sea.  Photo: Justin McManus, The Age.

Residents stand by the site of their former village, Tebunginako, now inundated by the sea. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age.

Some of the world’s smallest nations will use a Pacific summit this week to push the globe’s biggest polluters to finally act on climate change, an issue that threatens their very existence, Zee News reports.

Host nation the Marshall Islands wants the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), which opens in the capital Majuro on Tuesday, to kickstart stalled international efforts to tackle global warming and rising seas.

“We want this to be the Pacific Islands Forum where the region says ‘enough’s enough’,” said Marshall Islands Minister Assisting the President Tony deBrum.

“The Pacific Rim is the source of more than 60 per cent of the world’s emissions and rising, so this is the key battlefield in the war against climate change. It’s time for us to unleash a new wave of climate leadership.”

The 15-nation PIF consists mainly of small island states, along with resource-rich Papua New Guinea and regional powers Australia and New Zealand.

Read the full story on Zee News
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Government land purchase within grasp

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Land in Fiji to be purchased by Kiribati, Natoavatu Estate

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 23 August, 2013

Kiribati Government plan to purchase a piece of land in Vanua Levu has got the nod from the Fiji Islands Government, bringing Kiribati closer to its wish purchase land in Fiji.

Under Fiji’s law all land purchase has to be consented first by the Fiji Government. “We’ve got the Government’s consent when Fiji’s Lands and Mineral Resources Minister signed our application for consent to a dealing, as required under Section 6 & 7 Land Sales Act, Cap 137 of Fiji’s law, last month (July)” a statement from the Office of Te Beretitenti said.

“There are conditions of course such as the transfer of property be complete within 3 months, funds for this purchase be brought from an offshore account, clearance from the Commissioner from the Inland Revenue and Governor, Reserve Bank of Fiji be sought and that approval is also sought from the Fiji Trade & Investment Board if this property will involve with commercial or business activity,” the statement said.

The consent means Kiribati’s plan to purchase this land known as Natoavatu Estate from owners and trustees, the Church of England is about to roll out.

According to the Office of Te Beretitenti, Government negotiations over the land began about 2 years ago, in 2011 Government finally identified Natoavatu as an ideal land to buy followed by Parliament’s approval of 9.3 million Australian dollars in 2012 for the purchase.

Natoavatu Estate is being looked after by a Manager employed by Trustees of the Church of England and there are no settlements whatsoever except for lengths and depth of lush forestry.

Natoavatu Estate is measured 5,451 acres or fifteen times bigger than Betio, the commercial heart and most populated area of Kiribati.

Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Mangroves for coastal protection

Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Tekimau Otiawa inspects the mangroves in Bonriki, a nursery for Mangroves

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 25 July, 2013

The Environment and Conservation Division and the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III to Increase Coastal Resilience are once again working together, this time to benefit communities in Nonouti, Tabiteuea South, Tabiteuea North and Beru. The joint project has already visited Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama to
promote and undertake mangrove planting as both a mitigation and adaptation option for coastline protection and marine resource enhancement.

Communities on Marakei, Abaiang and Abemama are now working together with Government to plant mangroves and protect their own coastlines from erosion as a result of education and awareness on mangrove importance and planting carried out by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD), Environment and Conservation Division (ECD) and the Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII).

The$150,000, four-year mangrove project is funded by KAPIII while the implementation is undertaken by ECD. The project commenced in early 2013 and will end in 2016.

The KAPIII project continues and expands on the highly successful work on mangroves to prevent further coastal erosion in local communities under KAPII in 2010. The initial stage under KAPII worked with communities to plant mangroves in Makin, Butaritari, Maiana, Aranuka, North Tarawa and South Tarawa.

 “The project is a very worthwhile project as it is a source of defense against coastal erosion and we are very fortunate to have ECD as the implementers of this project because they have a lot of passion and with their passion the project has been carried out successfully in the outer islands,” Mr. Kaitara said.

“The ECD’s role is very important and involves communicating with the community to get their commitment in mangrove planting as a ‘soft’ option source for coastal protection,” KAPIII Program Manager Kautuna Kaitara said.

 “The project has been effective on the outer islands because communities have that commitment for the project, which in turn has led to the successfulness and sustainability of the project in the outer islands,” he said. 

ECD Project Coordinator for Invasive Alien Species Tekimau Otiawa said the ECD emphasised to communities the importance of working together to protect their coastlines. For example, communities were encouraged to have a mangrove day to learn about and plant mangroves together as a team, she said.

“We also emphasise to schools in the outer islands to include in their activities the importance of mangroves and to have field trips to mangrove areas. To practice and understand the importance of mangrove planting at an early age is very crucial,” Ms Otiawa said.

Mr Kaitara added an informed decision has to be made with respect to the application of ‘soft’ options such as mangrove planting or ‘hard’ option like seawalls to deter coastal erosion. He explained that using the soft or hard options really depend on the outcome of the assessment of the area affected.  It is common to see in our situation the application of ‘soft’ option on the lagoon side of the island and ‘hard’ option on the ocean side of the island however, there are cases that both options can be applied in the lagoon or on the ocean side of the island.

About KAPIII:

The Kiribati Adaptation Program began its third phase (KAPIII) in mid-2012. KAPIII aims to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure. KAPIII’s motto is Fresh water supply. Coastal protection. Our Future.

One of KAPIII’s key components is to increase coastal resilience by using soft options such as mangrove planting or hard options such as seawalls to reduce coastal erosion and protect native habitats, which are home to important sea life such as the sea life we feed our families.

There are 4 types of Mangroves in Kiribati, namely Te Nikabubuti (White mangrove), Te Aitoa (Black mangrove), Te Tongo Buangi (Oriental mangrove) and Te Tongo (Red mangrove).

KAP III  has a total cost of US$10.8million and will be financed through grants via the World Bank from Government of Australia; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF); Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD); Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); and in-kind contribution from the Government of Kiribati.

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front before the other panelists, and the nation.

Wet weather fails to dampen public hearing spirits

Morning rain did not dampen the mood at Kiribati’s first-ever National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change on Friday, where leaders addressed the nation on the importance of everyone working together to build national resilience against climate change impacts.

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Official page of the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change

Thankfully, despite the heavy rain overnight, the skies opened up to permit a late start to the event at Bairiki Square, which coincidentally or not translates from i-Kiribati to English as the “place where things happen”.

President Anote Tong addressed the nation at the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change at Bairiki Square.

President Anote Tong addressed the nation at the National High-Level Public Hearing on Climate Change at Bairiki Square on Friday 19 April, 2013.

His Excellency Anote Tong was the first of 10 panelists to take the stage to address the crowded public square where he reiterated the importance of building both consensus and public understanding of climate change and climate change impacts in Kiribati.

“We must prepare the next generation to address the effects of climate change,” His Excellency said*.

These words were more dramatically reiterated in a moving youth performance by Kiribati Health and Family Association (KHFA) at half-time, where, in the skit, a young girl in tears asks her dad “Dad, what will happen to me and my Kiribati in 50 years time?*”

Next, second panel member Kiribati National Council of Churches Chairman Bishop Paul Mea took the stage.

Bishop Mea told the public, both in attendance and aired live across the country, that climate change was a social issue.

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front before the other panelists, and the nation.

His Excellency Anote Tong takes the stage in front of other panelists and before the nation.

Human interference continued to contribute to the impacts of climate change, Bishop Mea continued, citing Tarawa causeways Nanikai and Teaoraereke as well as the Dai Nippon contributing to the loss of some of the nation’s islets.

Leader of the Opposition Party (Karikirakean te I-Kiribati Party) Dr Tetaua Taitai next acknowledged climate change as a serious issue, but one that should not be the main priority for Kiribati. Instead the more immediate issues of population growth, overcrowding, water and food security, unemployment, education and health should be first addressed, he said.

He added, where climate change was a focus, more attention was needed to how the nation utilised its own resources with that of external resources and that it was necessary for experts to have a sole focus in the context of Kiribati instead of generalising the nation with the rest of the world.

The public raised questions to the panel in person and via telephone and Facebook throughout the day.

*Please note: quotes have been translated from i-Kiribati to English

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Sunset in Tarawa.

Government and SPC talk joint strategies

The Government of Kiribati and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) have been working hard to develop a new joint country strategy (JCS) between SPC and the Government of Kiribati.

JCSs are multi-year plans that align the priorities of SPC member countries with the services that SPC can provide. The new plan will focus on a strategy for 2013 to 2015.

Discussions on the strategy, which took place early April 2013 on Tarawa, involved identifying the country’s key development priorities and matching these with the expertise SPC can provide in sectors ranging from fisheries to statistics.

The mission follows a review of the first JCS (2008–2011) carried out in October 2012, which found that SPC in close collaboration with the Government of Kiribati had effectively implemented activities and services in line with Kiribati’s development priorities.

David Teaabo, Pacific Plan Desk Officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, commented that the JCS approach is very much a joint approach and relies on full engagement by the government.

According to Mr Teaabo, the collaborative approach promoted by the JCS makes it possible to improve coordination and collaboration efforts at national level to enable Kiribati to pursue its development priorities.

The mission team was led by Mike Batty, (Director of SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division) and included representatives of SPC’s Strategic Engagement, Policy and Planning Facility as well as its Statistics for Development Division. The SPC team’s Kiribati counterparts included Mr Teaabo as well as representatives of the National Economic Planning Office.

Mr Batty said that cooperation between the government and SPC had been excellent, which was a testimony to the commitment by both parties to ensuring that Kiribati’s development priorities are translated into concrete actions.

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

No potholes in road contract signing

South Tarawa’s long-awaited new road is one step closer after the Government of Kiribati and New Zealand-based construction company McConnell Dowell signed the official contract recently.

Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop signed the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract in front of a small gathering in Betio, Kiribati on on Wednesday 27 April, 2013.

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

The signing of the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project contract between Ministry of Public Works and Utilities secretary Eita Metai and McConnell Dowell construction manager Rory Bishop. Photo: KAPIII

Guests were entertained by local dancers and served dinner as part of the signing celebrations.

The Road Rehabilition Project for Kiribati is a $AU38 million project that aims to improve the condition of South Tarawa and Betio’s main road network as well as help strengthen road finance and maintenance capacity.

Roads Project Contract Signing

Local dancers entertain guests after the official signing of the roads project contract. Photo: KAPIII

The three main components of the project are:

1. Infrastructure improvements: main civil works activities to be undertaken on South Tarawa road infrastructure, including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of paved roads on South Tarawa and the rehabilitation of Betio causeway

2. Road sector reform: keep activities to strengthen the road section and lead to more sustainable road infrastructure in South Tarawa

3. Project support: establishing of a project management unit, project associated incremental operation costs, a valuation specialists to identify the appropriate compensation rates for trees and other assets affected by the project, and audit of the project accounts

The Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project is being implements by the Government of Kiribati with the assistance and funding support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and AusAID.

Construction work is expected to begin mid-2013.

Related news…

Australia to give $15 million for road

For more information on the project, please visit the ADBWB and AusAID website pages dedicated to the project.

Part of the main road on South Tarawa.

Australia to give $15 million for road

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr with His Excellency Anote Tong during his visit to Kiribati. Photo: Rimon/OB

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr with His Excellency Anote Tong during his visit to Kiribati. Photo: Rimon/OB

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced Australia will provide $15 million to rehabilitate 40 kilometres of main road in South Tarawa, Kiribati, which has been undermined by rising sea levels and coastal erosion.

Speaking from Kiribati, Senator Carr said the works were essential if the nation was to survive the impact of climate change.

“Kiribati is at the front line of climate change,” Senator Carr said.

“Its highest point is now just three metres above sea level.

“Unless action is taken, Kiribati will be uninhabitable by 2030 as a result of coastal erosion, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into drinking water.

“This project will provide more than 40 per cent of the population with better access to health clinics, schools and markets.

“Coastal roads will be rehabilitated to withstand rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change.

“We’ll also support the Kiribati Adaptation Program to replace 11 kilometres of damaged water mains and increase access to safe drinking water.

“I’m proud we can assist in rebuilding local roads and protecting basic Kiribati infrastructure from the devastating effects of human-induced climate change.”

Australia’s funding would be delivered over three years (2013-2015) in partnership with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Senator Carr will also join Kiribati President Anote Tong to present a statement to the UN Security Council on the need for climate change action to reduce the risk of future conflicts over scarce resources.