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Kiribati’s Golden Boy calls for “Save Our Country”

Kiribati’s 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold medallist – dubbed ‘Golden Boy’ has called to the world to help save his disappearing island country.

“Every day my people fear for their lives as their homes are lost to the rising sea levels,” David Katoatau said in a climate campaign he launched last month.

He added that “we live on an atoll with nothing but flat land and ocean surrounding us. We have nowhere to climb and nowhere to run.”

Flat Atoll copy

Aerial view of Tarawa atoll in Kiribati. No mountains or higher grounds means sea-level rise is a daily threat to the 110,00 people of Kiribati.

The 31-year old professional weightlifter has represented Kiribati in many international championship games including the 2008 and 2009 Olympic Games but perhaps the highlight of his 11-year sporting career was at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year where he lifted the 105kg record Gold Medal with New Zealand and England snatching Silver and Bronze after him.

Read more: David Katoatau claims first ever Kiribati medal

Last July at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea he furthered his glory with another Gold medal dedicated to his 110,000 fans back home in Kiribati. The New Caledonia-based sportsman is still aiming for gold at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Inspired by many and many young kids back home, David Katoatau – in his own might and right – will become an ambassador for climate change seeking support from the world so that the kids back home will also have a chance to fulfil their dreams without fear of losing their homes.

Join his call- if you care, and share his message to the world!

Read more: Kiribati Gold medallist David Katoatau sings

2015 Forum Communique

An official report of the recent 46th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting, more commonly known as the Forum Communique was released two weeks ago Thursday, 10 September 2015, in the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Moresby.

The Leaders in their Retreat deliberated on issues concerning the Pacific region which included Australia and New Zealand.

A total of twenty agendas covering various areas and issues were discussed in the retreat out of which two declarations were born, focusing on Climate Change and Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism.

Read more: Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change Action
Read more: The Hiri Declaration – Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism

The Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting held ahead of the Leaders Retreat also saw the birth of the SIS Leaders’ Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change which strongly calls for a 1.5 degrees Celsius agreement for Paris .

Read the SIS Leaders Port Moresby Declaration on Climate Change

In total, the agendas include:
i. Framework for Pacific Regionalism
ii. Fisheries
iii. Climate Change
iv. Information Communications Technologies (ICT)
v. Cervical Cancer
vi. West Papua
vii. Hiri Declaration
viii. Regional Governance and Financing
ix. Forum Foreign Ministers
x. Ministerial Meetings
xi. French Polynesia
xii. Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands
xiii. Radioactive Contaminants in the Republic of the Marshall Islands
xiv. Strengthening the Post-Forum Dialogue
xv. Pacer Plus
xvi. Post-2015 Development Agenda/Sustainable Development Goals
xvii. Implementation of the Forum Compact
xviii. Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (2012)
xix. Smaller Island States Leaders Meeting
xx. Civil Society Organization Dialogue

Leaders also endorsed that the 47th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in 2016 will be held in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Samoa, Nauru and Tuvalu will host the 2017, 2018 and 2019 forum meetings respectively.

2015 Forum Communique – download here

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change

Hiri Declaration: “Strengthening Connections to Enhance Pacific Regionalism”

President Tong bows out of Forum with ‘Star of Melanesia’


President Anote Tong has bowed-out of the Pacific Islands Forum, in what is deemed his last forum meeting as President of tiny Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, with an honorary award called the ‘Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia’ (CSM) and $5 million PNG-Kina (AUD$2.5 million) to aid efforts in combating climate change impacts to his low-lying atoll nation.

President Tong who is now in his final months of his 12-year term in office received the honorary award – ‘Star of Melanesia’ last Thursday from Papua New Guinea’s Acting Governor General and Speaker of Parliament Theodore Zurenuoc. The high-level occasion was witnessed by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum who were in Port Moresby for the 46th Leaders Forum.

The Companion of the Star of Melanesia is awarded for distinguished service of a high degree to Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, sustained over a period of fifteen years.

A statement from the PNG government say the award is bestowed on Tong for his services to the Pacific region and strong bilateral relations with the region and PNG.

Tong was humbled with such recognition saying he was truly honoured to receive such a symbolic award which he says inspires him further that the Pacific is in good stewardship as long as the spirit of brotherhood and the Pacific Way continue to prevail.

Although Kiribati is not a member of the Melanesian grouping, Tong has in the past been invited by the Melanesian Spearhead Group where his thoughts and contributions on contentious issues were consulted.

The president who returns today from the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands forum meeting in Port Moresby brings with him a $5 million cheque (PNG-Kina) that will go towards Kiribati’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change impacts.

Tong will leave office early next year and will walk away with a number of awards and recognitions under his belt. This year alone, Tong was presented with the Doctor of Laws from the University of the South Pacific and the Sunhak Peace Prize.

The Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, also received the Star of Melanesia award while Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, received the Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu (GCL) in recognition of his long service to the region as one of the longest serving Prime Minister.


Previous recipients of The Companion of the Star of Melanesia includes Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, KCVO, CB (Husband of the Princess Royal – The Princess Anne) and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (Wife of Prince of Wales – Prince Charles).

Kiribati on Tsunami Alert – low risk expected

An 8.3 magnitude earthquake hitting the central zone of Chile has generated a tsunami alert for the North and South American Pacific coasts as well as Pacific Island countries including Kiribati.

A statement from the Office of the President has confirmed that the alert for Kiribati is in effect but the risks will be minimal given the projected timings of impact will coincide with low tide.

The Kiribati Meteorological Service (KMS) reports the tsunami will generate waves between 0.3 to 1 metre above sea level however, the impact time will coincide with low tide (0036hrs – 0638hrs) and hence minimal impact is anticipated. The projected timings of impact are as follows:

Kiritimati 1231hrs (UTC)
Kanton    1342hrs (UTC)
Tarawa    1556hrs (UTC)

KMS added that while tsunami impact is categorized low risk, mariners and people along the coasts are urged to take precautionary measures.

Meanwhile,  a nation-wide radio announcement was aired noon today for the public’s information.

READ MORE: Chile earthquake: Five dead, million evacuated as tsunami hits central coastline after quake

Get your copy: 2015 Kiribati Tide Calendar

President Tong questions moral values of Australian leaders

President Anote Tong has questioned the moral values of Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his colleague Prime Minister Tony Abbott over the joke made by Dutton about Pacific Island countries and their struggle with the rising sea levels.

Tong criticized the two Australian politicians over their insensitive joke about Pacific Islanders having no sense of time because “water is lapping at their door”. The remark made by Dutton was enjoyed by Abbott recklessly laughing unaware that a camera with a boom microphone was rolling above their heads.

“It shows a sense of moral irresponsibility quite unbecoming of leadership in any capacity,” President Tong said in an interview with ABC just minutes after touching down in Fiji, on his way back home from Papua New Guinea.

More saddened than outraged, Tong added “this is the issue we were talking about yesterday,” referring to the recently concluded talks in Port Moresby where climate change was effectively watered down by Australia (and New Zealand).

“I find that extremely sad, extremely disappointing that we are making jokes about a very serious issue,” he said.

Eastern tip of Temaiku village grapple with the encroaching seas

Eastern tip of Temaiku village on Tarawa atoll continues to grapple with the encroaching seas

Read more: Kiribati’s President lashes Peter Dutton for sea-levels joke

The video of Minister Dutton making the joke with Prime Minister Abbott laughing along had gone viral over the web and has created an outrage by many including several Pacific Island leaders.

Marshall Island’s Foreign Minister, Tony de Brum voiced his dismay over Twitter about the Australian Ministers joking about sea level rise in the Pacific: “Next time waves are battering my home and my grandkids are scared, I’ll ask Peter Dutton to come over, and we’ll see if he is still laughing.”

Also on Twitter, the Governor of Papua New Guinea province of Oro expressed his disappointment at Prime Minister Abbott laughing along to the joke: “ABBOTT MUST APOLOGIZE FOR INSENSITIVITY TOWARDS ALL FOR LAUGHING AT CLIMATE CHANGE. Remove him next elections Australia, you deserve better.”

Meanwhile, climate group had written a letter to Prime Minister Abbott expressing their disappointment to the way Australia is treating an issue which concerns the life of Pacific islanders. They also demanded that Immigration Minister Dutton step down from office after the disgraceful joke he made on Friday morning.

Pacific Island Countries mainly the Small Island Developing States such as Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu have been struggling for more than a decade to cope with the impacts of sea-level rise caused by climate change. The impacts include inundation of villages, sea-water intrusion to their source of drinking water and the inability to grow food crops to name but a few.

Read more: Pacific leaders respond to Australian Minister’s sea level remarks.

President of Kiribati calls for moratorium on new coal mines

The President of Kiribati, one of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, has written to fellow world leaders asking them to support to global moratorium on new coal mines. Anote Tong said the future safety of his people depended on collective and aggressive action to stem the use of coal, the largest source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. “Kiribati, as a nation faced with a very uncertain future, is calling for a global moratorium on new coal mines. It would be one positive step towards our collective global action against climate change and it is my sincere hope that you and your people would add your positive support in this endeavour,” he said

Read the full text of President Tong’s call here.

For general and media inquiries, please contact

GPS Training Day 2

New High Precision GPS Equipment for Kiribati

GPS Training Day 2

GPS Training Day 2

The shoreline and infrastructure assets are key elements of daily life in South Tarawa. Until now the accurate mapping and monitoring of these things has been undertaken using basic survey equipment and low accuracy GPS equipment. A new high precision state of the art GPS equipment has been purchased to improve the accuracy of measurement and recording of information in South Tarawa. The equipment was put to use on Tuesday 10th February with the first training workshop completed.

The equipment, worth in excess of $40,000, has been bought under the KAP III program and will be made available to the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU), the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to vastly improve the speed and accuracy of the survey work they undertake. It is expected that the MPWU will use the equipment for monitoring shoreline erosion and will be able to quantify erosions rates to identify areas most of need of reinforcement. The PUB will use the equipment to accurately locate the water, electricity and sewer pipes, cables and fittings so that they can be relocated if they become buried over time. The MELAD officers will be able to use the equipment to more accurately define land boundaries and remark boundaries where necessary.

Part of the purchase included a week of training by Mr Rob van Manen, a GPS expert from Brisbane Australia. Rob described the new GPS system as being similar to that many fisherman might use and still used the same satellites but was far more accurate by being able to track more satellites and it was able to correct for the inaccuracies found in basic GPS units used for fishing. Rob praised the staff from MPWU, PUB and MELAD who undertook the training and noted they had all learned how to use the equipment very quickly and the days in the field with each ministry to show how to use the equipment in their normal daily tasks had been very productive.

HE delivering statement at UNSG Climate Summit 23 Sep 2014, New York

Statement by HE Te Beretitenti, Anote Tong during UNSG’s Climate summit

HE delivering statement at UNSG Climate Summit 23 Sep 2014, New York

HE delivering statement at UNSG Climate Summit 23 Sep 2014, New York

UNSG’s Climate Summit
Tuesday 23 September, 2014
New York

The Secretary-General Mr Ban ki-moon


Distinguished delegates

Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed an honour for me to extend to you all today very warm greetings from the Government and the people of Kiribati- on whose behalf I address this august meeting. Kam na bane ni Mauri and Greetings to you all!

I wish to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to you Mr. Secretary-General, for providing us this opportunity once again to seek a clear path in our struggle to come to terms with the full implications of the challenges posed by climate change to all of humanity. But whilst the scale, the severity and the urgency of the challenges will vary from country to country, from people to people the reality remains that the only effective remedy if any will require collective global commitment and above all action.

I believe that as a global community we have achieved considerable progress on the climate change debate since our meeting at Copenhagen in 2009. Much has happened in our erratic and unusual global weather patterns, which together with the most recent AR5 IPCC and other corroborating scientific reports to clearly indicate that, as sensible people we need to start taking the right measures to prepare ourselves for what is to come. We have all made our individual contributions to the literature on the climate change debate in our eloquent speeches which we have delivered here in New York and elsewhere over the years.

Excellencies the question now is “where do we go from here?” In fact during the SIDS Conference in Samoa and since, many have asked (mainly journalists) what is it that I expect to come out of this Summit or Paris in 2015? My answer is simple – ACTION ; action that would guarantee that the future of our people can be secured.

Climate change- remains the biggest threat

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just come back from an Artic Expedition and words could never fully explain the immensity of the system in the Arctic region or the full implications of the melting of the massive sheets of ice in the Arctic region. One could not fail to make the direct connection between the melting of such a massive amount of ice and the fate of our low lying atoll islands on the equator and indeed all coastal cities. The visit also brought home to me the global nature of the processes involved in climate change and the impossibility of reversing it once it has gone so far.

Need for Sacrifice and Partnership

Excellencies against the foregoing and the background of past statements which I shall not repeat here I believe that there is need for genuine commitment and sacrifice if the challenge of climate change is to be addressed.

In this vein we as an ocean state, have made a small contribution towards the preservation of one of the greatest natural endowments – the Pacific Ocean. The establishment of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the second largest MPA in the world which complements the Pacific Oceanscape, an initiative which encompasses other small island nations’ marine protected areas. PIPA and the Pacific Oceanscape is our Pacific contribution and with it a statement to the global community that sacrifices can indeed be made.

Excellencies earlier this year, my country together with fellow low-lying atoll island states of Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, Maldives and Tokelau – established the Coalition of Atoll Nations On Climate Change (CANCC –can see). The CANCC was not only a partnership between Climate Change frontline states, but it also forged partnership with our more developed allies. A partnership underscoring the concerns we jointly share over the slow pace of global action to address the increasing urgency and severity of the challenges we are already facing from climate change. A deep concern that for us time is fast running out.

Call for greater global leadership and commitment

The outcomes from the SIDS in Samoa, is indeed very encouraging in the commitment to establish a stand-alone goal on climate change as part of the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. However this commitment together with the leadership demonstrated by the Secretary General on this issue must be matched by our political leadership in particular by those whose participation or otherwise would mean success or failure to the process.

I have no doubt that we all agree that climate change poses a danger to all of us if in varying degrees. The science forthcoming from the IPCC AR5 and elsewhere together with our individual experiences in our own countries provide ample evidence that something is terribly wrong. Yet we continue to procrastinate, we continue to ignore what the science is telling us and indeed what we are witnessing with our own eyes.  We know that in order for us to make meaningful progress in addressing the challenge of climate change there is a need for strong and decisive global leadership – so we must get away from the wait to see who is doing what style of leadership before deciding to do what needs to be done.

For the sake of our children and their children let us do the right thing soon!

With these few words allow me to share with you all our traditional Kiribati blessing of Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa, (Health, Peace and Prosperity) to you all.

Thank you.

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

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

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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