Kiribati participates in World Environment Day celebrations

A special report from the Kiribati Embassy in Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan, 12 June 2014

The Kiribati Ambassador to Taiwan Her Excellency Teekoa Iuta was amongst a crowd of diplomats, government dignitaries and environmental enthusiasts who gathered last week in Taipei to celebrate the 2014 World Environment Day.

Themed as “Raise our voice, not sea level rise” the 2014 World Environment Day acknowledges the plight of the small island developing states. For countries like Kiribati such a plight focuses on environmental issues and challenges such as climate change.

“For me, and my brothers and sisters from the Pacific countries I give thanks to the decision by the Republic of China (Taiwan) through its Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to work with the Pacific Island countries in honouring the 2014 World Environment Day.” Kiribati’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Her Excellency Teekoa Iuta said in her statement during the World Environment Day celebrations.

In her remarks, Ambassador Iuta said that Kiribati has continually voiced its concerns at regional and global climate change forums with their debates and arguments taking many forms.

“In the early years we voiced our anger and blamed the world for the dangers to our islands and threats to our lives. But over the years we realized we cannot achieve much if we do not take charge of our situation but leave it to others. Thus we collaborated together and implored on the justice and morality of mankind to work together to save our planet earth for it is our moral responsibility to do so for our children and our grandchildren.” Ambassador Iuta said.

Iuta added by elaborating on some of the actions taken by Kiribati to address the issue of climate change which includes re-planting of mangroves to protect the shoreline, establishment of a Parliamentary Climate Change Committee that will assist government in coordinating and implementing climate change and environment development plans, creating the Phoenix Islands Protected Area which is closed-off from fishing and other extractive activities to name but a few.

“Taiwan has been a strong and committed friend in our endevour to combat challenges of climate change and I acknowledge the visible and invaluable assistance provided to Kiribati through agriculture and aquaculture projects offered by the Taiwan Technical Mission and also of the provision of solar lamps for our schoold children and rural communities among other assistances.” Iuta said.

Minister Wei from the Environment Protection Agency said very little is known about the environmental challenges faced by small island developing states, specifically the very serious and real threat of climate change to countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu and hopes that this year’s World Environment Day will be the beginning of more public awareness within the Taiwan public.

Kiribati and Taiwan established diplomatic relations in 2003 and ever since Kiribati has been advocating the full membership of Taiwan in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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 buys a piece of Fiji

From_mgrs_house_nuts_pastures_river

Piece of the land in Fiji

OB – Press Release

Kiribati’s Head of State – President Anote Tong made the announcement last week confirming that government has made the final payment for the purchase of the AUD$9.3 million Natoavatu Estate located in Fiji’s second biggest island of Vanua Levu.

“I wish to officially announce that government has come to a final resolve and has made the full purchase of the piece of land in Fiji.” President Tong said in his address to the nation on national radio last Friday.

Tong added that government sent a team earlier this month, comprising of the Minister of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development and the Attorney General, to settle the purchase of the land with the Fiji authorities.

The team were assured the Certificate of Title for the Natoavatu Estate after all requirements were met and a transaction of the final payment of AUD$8.3 million was witnessed before the previous land owners – The Trustees for the Colony of Fiji of the Church of England and the Fiji authorities.

Tong said that the acquisition of the 5460-acre piece of land marks a new milestone in government’s development plans particularly in its endeavor to address its economic and food security issues as it is greatly impacted by climate change.

“I’m glad we’ve taken this milestone with Fiji and hope that developed countries can engage with frontline countries like us in this arena, as a matter of taking simple actions rather than negotiating climate change issues where common ground is far from reach.” President Tong added.

Earlier this year, President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau met with his Kiribati counterpart on Kiribati shores where he assured “that the people of Kiribati will have a home if their country is submerged by the rising sea level as a result of climate change.

The Fiji President made the announcement confirming the suggestion made earlier by Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, that Fiji would assist Kiribati in any way it could.

The land purchase of the Natoavatu Estate is an investment by the government to explore options of commercial, industrial and agricultural undertakings such as fish canning, beef/poultry farming, fruit/vegetable farming to name but a few.

Forum Trade Ministers Meeting comes to an End

The Pacific Islands Forum embraces a vision for a better future and prosperity for Pacific Islands’ communities through increased trade and investment. As the international trade and investment promotion agency of the Forum Secretariat, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest’s network of offices play an essential role in supporting this vision.

This story began on Wednesday 28 May 2014 when 16 members of this Forum gathered at the Kiribati House of Parliament in Ambo, Tarawa, and the Republic of Kiribati to reach a special agreement. It is special because it recognizes the relative state of development in the Pacific in terms of Technology, Capacity, Wealth, and Resources. I’d say it’s special indeed! And thank you to the Secretary General, Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade, all the Ministers who were present, the people who assisted these Ministers. Thank you all on behalf of us, the grass roots people, for recognizing Kiribati and accepting our Minister of Commerce’s invitation Mr Binto Katia from Makin to have and to hold the Forum Trade Ministers Meeting here at yet another beautiful island in the pacific.

If you would like to learn more about the Trade Ministers Meeting please visit the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website and I bet they have a Facebook page as well to keep you engaged.

Also visit our Facebook page Kiribati and Climate Change and like it, and also share it with others so they can see the pictures!

Small islands’ commitment towards climate change

Sea wall in the village of Eita on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Sea wall in the village of Eita on the island of Tarawa. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today (2 April 2014) praised the commitment by small islands in the Pacific to low-carbon development and urged them to continue their ambitious efforts to combat climate change and spur other nations to come to a binding agreement on this issue next year, UN News Centre, Reports.

“Because you are on the front lines, you know that we are at a pivotal moment and that more needs to be done. You know that the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Pacific launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which took place in Fiji.

While Mr. Ban noted that small island nations face special challenges, such as rising sea levels, restricted markets and high energy prices due to their remote location, he also highlighted successful initiatives that are helping these countries achieve sustainable development.

“The Pacific Islands are demonstrating real global leadership in our shared efforts to make a much-needed transition to a new era in energy use and production,” he said. “Tokelau has become the first territory in the world to generate 100 per cent of its power from renewable energy, while our host, the government of Fiji, is demonstrating its commitment to support sustainable energy for all through concrete actions. These and other efforts are helping to point the way to a sustainable future.”

The period from 2014 to 2024 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade for Sustainable Energy for All and two years ago, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

Read the full story on UN News Centre
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Water supply in Kiribati: Local solution

The Tamana Pump. Photo by: Carlo Iocovino

The Tamana Pump. Photo by: Carlo Iocovino

Press release: SPREP

The atoll of Tamana, in Southern Kiribati, is the origin of a pump design that has helped thousands of communities in the Pacific Island nation.

Now known across Kiribati and internationally as the Tamana Pump, the design is a simple hand powered system that can greatly reduce water contamination by allowing pumping from closed wells.

“It is essential to have a pump rather than use a bucket or a tin container to bring water. This common system of using a container on a string contaminates the well water” said Hon. Waysang Kumkee, Minister for Public Works and Utility (pictured below).

Hon. Waysang Kumkee, Minister for the Ministry of Works and Public Utilities. Photo: Azarel Marina
Hon. Waysang Kumkee, Minister for the Ministry of Works and Public Utilities. Photo: Azarel Marina

 On the remote outer islands of Kiribati, maintenance and spare parts might be many months away when the next supply ship or qualified technician arrives. But the Tamana pump has no electronics or complicated mechanical parts, allowing it to be repaired more easily if a system breaks down. Furthermore, it is a system that is well known enough the many community members are capable of repairing them themselves.

“If we can have 1 water tank to service a small community with a manual pump and try to avoid having an electrical pump, because our problem is maintenance and servicing, no one can actually look after it if it breaks. A manual pump, or gravity feed system, is the best long term solution” said the Hon. Waysang Kumkee.

SPREP has undertaken assessments on Abaiang atoll which included water testing that confirmed superior water quality at sites with Tamana pump systems. There is great potential for improved water supply solutions on the atoll as 92% of households there reported using hand held buckets to obtain water from their wells. Sites will now be indentified  where the new Tamama pumps can be installed.

The Government of Kiribati is leading a ‘whole-of-island’ integrated approach to climate change adaptation and disaster risk management. Abaiang atoll is the first site for this approach.Within the integrated approach, SPREP and the Kiribati Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, with project funding from USAID, are aiming to improve water resources capacity in Abaiang. The project will enable communities on the atoll to manage their water supply and better understand the vulnerabilities they are facing from climate change and non-climate related risks.

Also read: Kiribati celebrates World Water Day
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Kiribati to Celebrate World Water Day

Kiribati people depend on potable well water, this supply has been affected by climate change

Kiribati people depend on potable well water, this supply has been affected by climate change

Kiribati will be celebrating World Water Day on 24 March 2014 at the Bairiki Square in Kiribati’s capital, Tarawa, focusing on this year’s Kiribati theme ‘Water and Climate Change’.

People in Kiribati depend on potable ground water in wells and from rainwater, but this supply of water has been directly affected by climate change.

The ground water supply in South Tarawa is dependent on the size of the land area and as this diminishes as a result of rising sea levels and coastal erosion, so does the size of the water lens. This situation applies to all of the other islands of Kiribati.

Public Utilities Board (PUB), CEO, Kevin Rouatu said, Kiribati is like a floating ship with limited fresh water from its water lens, and despite the heavy rainfall that Kiribati has been blessed with in the past months, our water lens can only hold just a small percentage of the total rainfall.

“South Tarawa depends largely on the reservoirs in Buota and Bonriki so it is very vital for people to save the water they get from the main water system and not waste it”. Said Kevin Rouatu.

“KAPIII’s objective is to increase the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal protection as a priority by the government of Kiribati”. Said Kautuna Kaitara, Program Manager for KAPIII.

“Our aim is to improve the water reticulation system on South Tarawa through leakage detection and repairs, to increase rainwater harvesting and to build abstraction galleries”, he said.

With regards to sustaining the Buota and Bonriki water reserves, Mr Kaitara said, KAPIII will be assisting in supporting the Government of Kiribati Water Committee by ensuring governance and sustainability of the systems in Bonriki and Buota villages.

“If water in this area is contaminated there will be no drinkable water to the 40 thousand plus population on South Tarawa and it will be catastrophic and costly for the people of South Tarawa compared to the  cost from a tsunami disaster”. Mr Kaitara said.

The Kiribati government through the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, the Ministry of Health the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) Public Utilities Board, SMEC and GCCA have joined efforts to make the most of this year’s World Water Day celebrations.

Also read: Reducing leakage in Tarawa, World Water Day 2013, Why Tarawa needs water reserves
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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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Fiji President Visits Kiribati

Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau inspects the guard of honor

Fiji President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau inspects the guard of honor

The President of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was given a full guard of honor and a traditional welcome ceremony at Eita Mwaneaba when he arrived on Sunday last week. The president, first lady Adi Koila Nailatikau and delegation were greeted by the Minister for Education, Maere Tekanene, Kiribati High Commissioner to Fiji, Retata Rimon and Officer in Charge for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Akka Rimon.

Unimwane Katangaua of Etia Village presented Ratu Epeli with their community’s symbol of good fortune and wished him peace, love and prosperity.

During the traditional welcoming in Eita the President thanked Cabinet Ministers, Elders and members of the Tarawa community for their hospitality and warm welcome.

He said the two countries are linked intricately and there are parts of Fiji that are there and parts of Kiribati that are in Fiji and they are very much alive and built on the relationship that both countries now have.

On his tour in Kiribati, the President visited the Fiji Community, the Marine Training Centre (MTC), Kiribati Fish Limited (KFL) and also went fishing with the Kiribati President, Anote Tong.

On a separate schedule, First Lady Adi Koila visited the Special School for the Disable and the Kiribati Family Health Association (KHFA).

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I-Kiribati first international publication on climate change

Riibeta Abeta

Riibeta Abeta

Meet Mr Riibeta Abeta
Kiribati has not only for years been at center stage of the 21st century’s hottest topic of climate change, but the new year 2014 has ushered in the newest chapter of climate change for Kiribati, the first I-Kiribati single author on climate change.

In a typical Kiribati way of life, the young and newest author Mr. Riibeta Abeta expects no glints or glamour or even an entourage of the media to greet his first ever academic publication titled ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Zone of Kiribati’ published by the German based Lambert Publishing Company.

Speaking to TMN when asked what was his biggest motivation behind  his work? Mr. Abeta has this to say.

His motivation
‘I think forging our home island of Kiribati forward through today’s challenges, particularly in the future bleak scenarios brought in by climate change has been my biggest motivation to complete this book’

Although this is his first academic master-piece on climate change, Abeta is no stranger to the different dimensions of climate change that is impacting his beloved Kiribati, because he still lives with it and has argued for it at international foras when he worked as climate change officer with the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development in Tarawa as a Kiribati civil servant.

Future hopes
‘Amid the global campaigns about the uncertain future of Kiribati due to climate change, my worries always goes to our children, and therefore it points me to the fact that our young generation of Kiribati today must fully understand the full spectrum of their choices for their future lives; and we all know that this can be realized by more focused research on this hot topic, among other things.’

Mr Abeta’s background
Abeta has been on the Kiribati negotiation teams to the many UN Climate Change meetings since he joined the Ministry of Environment more than a decade ago, it is during his service with the Government of Kiribati that he got the Australian Leadership Award Scholarship to do his masters on climate change at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane.

‘This book in summary is about our capital island, South Tarawa, Kiribati; and a detail explanation on where it safe boundaries are with respect to the climate change threats.  The book also argued that the range of barriers and limits to climate change adaptation need to be considered into today’s developmental planning.  The time and resources spent to do the research was made possible through the Australian Leadership Award Scholarship and the University of the Sunshine Coast in Brisbane Australia when I did the Masters of Climate Change academic program in 2009 -2010.’

Cover page of Riibeta Abeta's book

Cover page of Riibeta Abeta’s book

The new author has found new strength and new heights in his first publication and has shared his thoughts and experience on how to get your work published in his facebook page and emails to his friends and colleagues in Kiribati.

Lambert Publishing Company
‘The Lambert Publishing Company (https://www.lap-publishing.com/site/home/10) based in Germany came across my work and expressed their interest to publish it globally (https://www.morebooks.de/), which has now brought this work about Kiribati to this level,’ he said.

‘This has not only demonstrated the potential of us I-Kiribati as trusted authors of books, but more importantly showcasing Kiribati’s stories, information, facts, problems and critical issues requiring support, at the international front.’

Defining our paths
According to Abeta, I-Kiribati are better suited to define their paths in terms of climate change.

Beyond climate change, the new author and father of two children has somewhat a more human touch and nationalistic feeling towards his new publication.

Hopes for a smarter and resilient Kiribati society
‘I felt, this publication of mine is entirely dedicated to the young and growing generations of Kiribati to be very informed by engaging in more innovative researches, adaptive to emerging threats, willingness to collaborate with each other to achieve a common goal for Kiribati, and remain true I-Kiribati. This publication hopes for a ‘smarter and resilient Kiribati society in the future.’

‘The “young generations” of Kiribati can achieve more than this, and I would like to encourage them to do their best for themselves, and for their future beloved home Kiribati. It is also with an earnest hope that this small achievement, signals an important message to all I-Kiribati citizens to help shape a ‘Smarter and Resilient Kiribati.’

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