Tag Archives: climate change adaptation

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.

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!

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
Follow the discussion and view pictures of Monday’s event on our Facebook page 

Social Dimension of Climate Change

The Minister for Environment, Lands & Agricultural Development and Chairman to Parliamentary Climate Change Committee, Hon. Tiarite Tioti Kwong launched the Kiribati Documentary on Social Dimension of Climate Change on Friday 02 August 2013 at Parliament club, Ambo.

The documentary supported by the EU Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS) Global Climate project, shows the impacts of climate change on the densely populated island of South Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital.

“Variability is threatening our existence as a nation and people, but Climate Change is now deriving us from the basic necessities of life, water, food, health and our ecosystem,” he said.

“To meet this challenge, all stakeholders within country and externally need to work as one. Mainstreaming climate change into national priorities to be able to come up with focused solutions to work against Climate Change — whether through adaptation investments, technical assistance or public awareness is therefore an urgent call.” Hon Tiarite Tiooti Kwong stated.

Watch the full video below.

Also read…
WHO links climate change and disease increase
Climate Change and Health
Climate Change and People

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Sustainable development and climate change, inseparable

His Excellency Anote Tong

His Excellency Anote Tong

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong believes the future we want must acknowledge and address the special needs of those at the extreme end of the vulnerable scale, the Islands Business reports

While addressing the delegates attending the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) inaugural meeting, President Tong said the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati are grappling with the challenges of climate change.

“For countries on the frontline of the climate change challenge, sustainable development and climate change are inseparable. Our uncertain future is a clear and loud statement on the urgent need for resolving the debate on sustainable development –of what we as part of the global community have failed to.

Read more about the change in climate in Kiribati

“The modern concept of green or blue growth emerged from the environmental devastation caused by the industrial revolution and the stark realization that our planet’s life support systems are on the brink of collapse.

“As leaders it is our duty to provide solutions and options to guarantee our people’s survival and future. But we must also be realistic to acknowledge our limited capacity to do this our own. This is why I always argued for the international allocation adaptation resources to be based on the urgency and degree of vulnerability of a country or a region. I believe that our region and others sharing the same fate should have priority in the allocation of international adaptation resources,” President Tong explained.

Read the full article on Islands Business
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Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project underway

Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project ground breaking in Eita

Local dancers beside the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project signboard outside Eita Maneaba during the ground breaking ceremony. Picture Aretitea Teeta/AusAID

The ground breaking ceremony for the Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project (KRRP) was a success on Friday 26 July 2013 at Eita village, a historic site on Kiribati’s capital, South Tarawa.

“This is an important milestone of achievement, a green light for the go ahead of the actual construction of the road in the upcoming days” said Hon. Kirabuke Teiaua, Minister for Public Works and Utilities in his speech.

The KRRP is a $48.2 million project – funded by AusAID, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank in partnership with the Government of Kiribati – to reconstruct 35 kilometers of road for the 60,000 people living on South Tarawa.

The Kiribati Road Rehabilitation Project  will provide more than 40 per cent of the population with better access to health clinics, schools and markets as well as assist the Government and the people of Kiribati in many ways such as:

  • A significant reduction in road maintenance costs
  • Improvement in health (less noise and dust) and road safety (wider pavement with more bus passing bays)
  • A reduction in travel times
  • Reduced wear and tear on vehicles

Rehabilitation of the road will start when the materials arrive in October and will take about 690 days to complete.

The Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase III (KAPIII) working on freshwater supply and coastal protection has on the other hand identified 8 locations on South Tarawa that is threatening public assets which includes inter alia the road in terms of coastal erosion. Tonkin and Taylor, contracted by the Government of Kiribati will review the designs for coastal protection works on the eight (8) sites identified.

“The arrangements agreed are such that KAPIII will work with the KRRP contractor to build coastal protection works on the eight sites distributed as follows – that works on 6 sites will be implemented by KRRP contractor McConnell Dowell with funds provided by KAPIII while works on the other 2 sites will be contracted out to local contractors.  Construction supervision for the former will be provided by an engineering contractor Roughton Int’l while the latter will be supervised by MPWU through the services of KAPIII Senior Civil Engineer.” KAPIII Program Manager, Kautuna Kaitara said.

Related News…
No potholes in road contract signing
Australia to give $15 million for road

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Celebrate World Water Day with a splash

Our limited freshwater supply is essential to life as well as the human and economic development of Kiribati.

To recognise the importance of freshwater supply in Kiribati, the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU) together with Environment and Conservation Division (ECD), Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the country’s leading water and sanitation projects would like to invite you and your family to celebrate World Water Day 2013 with us on Monday 25 March at Bairiki Square.

World Water Day 2013 will be celebrated in Kiribati on  Monday 25 March at Bairiki Square

World Water Day 2013 will be celebrated in Kiribati on Monday 25 March at Bairiki Square

World Water Day is a United Nations initiative held annually around the world to highlight the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

This year’s theme is ‘Water Cooperation’, which recognizes the need for cooperation to manage groundwater and rainwater resources, information exchange and financial and technical cooperation in Kiribati.

In the spirit of water cooperation, the South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Sector Project (STSISP), Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) and Water and Sanitation project in the Outer Islands of the Republic of Kiribati Phase I (KIRIWATSAN I) are proud to be sponsoring and participating in the MPWU’s event to showcase how different bodies and government departments are working together and with the public to help with the country’s freshwater supply.

Gathering freshwater from a well in Kiribati.

Gathering freshwater from a well in Kiribati.

The projects will provide demonstrations (such as how to fix a leaking tap), a ‘water-theme’ quiz with prizes, kid’s games (have you heard of ‘eels and ladders’?) and general information about their projects at the event. Taken Bairiki and Rurubao schools will also wow crowds with local performances about water.

MPWU Water Unit acting officer in charge Moiua Aroito said World Water Day was an opportunity to recognise the importance of working together to ensure a freshwater supply Kiribati’s future.

“Demands for water are increasing to satisfy the needs of South Tarawa and Betio’s growing population.

“Water resources are also being threatened by other factors such as urbanisation, pollution and climate change,” he said.

“Water cooperation is our key to succeeding in the future to manage our limited water resources and ensure that everyone benefits so please show your support and come participate in our event.”

World Water Day runs from 11.30am to 2pm on Monday 25 March at Bairiki Square.

About the projects

KAPIII

The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) is a five-year climate change adaptation project under the Office of the President. The objective of KAPIII is to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure.

Freshwater supply projects include providing support to the MPWU and PUB; the installation of rainwater harvesting works and infiltration gallery works in North and South Tarawa; and the detection and repair of leaks in the PUB’s pipe system from Buota to Betio.

KAPIII is funded via the World Bank GEF LDCF Trust Fund with co-financing from the governments of Australia and Japan, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery partnership, as well as in-kind from the Government of Kiribati.

KIRIWATSAN I

The Water and Sanitation project in the Outer Islands of the Republic of Kiribati Phase I (KIRIWATSAN I) is funded by EU, implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities with technical assistance from UNICEF.

It involves 70 communities in the 16 Gilbert Islands. The project aims to empower people by engaging them to achieve better access to safe drinking water, adequate and socially acceptable sanitation facilities, combined with an effective education/awareness raising campaign to improve their understanding of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues and to encourage behavioural changes, especially starting with children, as agents of change.

STSISP

The South Tarawa Sanitation Improvement Program (STSISP) aims to improve the health of communities on South Tarawa by rehabilitating and upgrading existing sanitation infrastructure. STSISP will improve access to sanitation services from 64 per cent of South Tarawa’s population in 2010 to 80 per cent by 2018. 

Rehabilitation of current infrastructure will limit contamination of groundwater reserves, which are currently polluted by pit latrines and poorly managed septic tanks.

 The Asian Development Bank is the lead agency on this program.

President awarded Hillary Laureate

President Tong receives his award from Hillary Institute  Chairman David Caygill. Photo: Rimon/OB

President Tong receives his award from Hillary Institute Chairman David Caygill. Photo: Rimon/OB

Kiribati’s President Anote Tong was awarded the 2012 Hillary Laureate in a reception at the New Zealand High Commission in Tarawa, Kiribati on Tuesday night.

The Hillary Institute of International Leadership selected President Tong as its 4th annual Hillary Laureate awardee and the first for Leadership in  “Climate Equity”, is the Institute’s  leadership focus until 2015.

The Laureate is given to a leading social entrepreneur who also embodies the humanitarian commitment of the late Sir Edmund Hillary, a celebrated New Zealand public figure (he even appears on the New Zealand five-dollar note).

The Institute’s chairman, David Caygill, says no nation symbolises more dramatically than Kiribati both the impact of climate change and the inequity of that impact on different nations.

“President Tong has been tireless in his efforts to draw these concerns to the attention of the world. We hope this award assists his endeavours,” Caygill said.

Hillary Summit Governor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, added: “I am truly delighted at the selection of President Anote Tong. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this recognition and honour.”

A spokesperson for President Tong said His Excellency was honoured to have been selected and “extremely pleased to accept such honour on behalf of his people and his nation and others similarly affected by climate change”.

President Tong is the recipient of many awards and recognition for his leadership, the most recent being the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean.

Former  Hillary Laureates are Jeremy Leggett (UK-2009), Peggy Liu (China-2010) and Aimee Christensen (USA-2011). Ms. Liu also won the Hillary Step prize earlier this year.

‘I-Kiribati want to migrate with dignity’

Kiribati media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan’s enlightening opinion piece is receiving international attention, most recently featuring in the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the full article, below…

On an average day we can look out across our lagoons – everything is calm and peaceful, people are fishing and going about their daily business – everything is at it should be and has been for many generations.

But this is very deceptive.  We now know that we are being subjected to a gradual, creeping & insidious process which directly threatens our future and our ability to live in our homeland – our people will be scattered, and the survival of our unique culture, lifestyle and even our language, may be lost forever.

Our awareness of climate change & sealevel rise is relatively new and it was only in the late 90s that our communities started hearing about it. Our people were confused as to how our small, low lying islands in the central Pacific can be affected by the activities of others in the distant developed world.

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

In our traditional village culture, we all understand that if somebody does a wrong, they have to reciprocate for their unacceptable behaviour towards an individual or the community as a whole. We are therefore left puzzled and challenged by the fact that the continued abuse of the environment by wealthy nations means we are the ones who have to suffer.  Our sense of fair play, of right and wrong, and of justice is being severely tested.

In looking at his community’s flooded mwaneaba – meeting house – the Rev. Eria Maere  observes, “Others are reaping the benefits of all these gases and things, but we are paying the price.  It’s too difficult – our kids are worried – where will they be in 10-15 years time?  There is no love for the people of the islands.”

Back in 1999, we assumed that we would all be climbing coconut trees to escape the rising tides which would innundate our tiny islands – but we now know it is not as simple as that.

On average our islands are only 2 or 3 metres above sealevel, and are often less than 800 metres across at the widest point.   Early advice was that we should move away from the coast, but as President Anote Tong has noted, “There is nowhere to move back to – you’ll either be in the lagoon or the ocean.”

What we now experience are more frequent storms which attack our coastal defences, and erode our precious land and crops – whole communities have had to be re-located.   Changing climate patterns have also brought extensive periods of drought, which threaten our vulnerable & scarce fresh water supply.

Rev. Eria Mwaerere and his community's mwaneaba, which is monthly threatened by rising tides.

Rev. Eria Mwaerere and his community’s mwaneaba, which is monthly threatened by rising tides.

The fragile water lens beneath each of our islands is very vulnerable to salt water intrusion.  This happens with all the negative scenarios – when our coasts are eroded by storms, when rising sealevels intrude from beneath, and when drought causes shrinkage of the lens. On top of this we now have major problems with over population on South Tarawa and human induced pollution of our scarce water resource.

Without fresh water, there can be no life – this, along with sea level rise, is the major threat to our existence.

We became more intimately involved with the issue when our video unit, with Australian support, assisted the Government with its presentation at the COP 15 Conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

At that time our President said “Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of the 21st century.  It calls into question the ability of our international institutions, and our compassion as human beings, to face this issue.  We cannot handle this alone”

Throughout history nations went to war when their sovereignty or survival was threatened, and it was in a similar state of mind that our small platoon went, well armed, to Copenhagen.  With a combination of culture, human observations and the latest that science had to offer, the Kiribati Side Event attracted a large and appreciative audience – there were many tears evident.     We, had given it our best shot.

It is therefore very difficult to describe the feeling of devastation when, in the following week, Pres. Obama and other world leaders gathered.  The degree of cynicism shown by the leaders of the world’s major polluters in torpedoing any chance of a binding agreement on emission levels was astounding.  Their agenda was purely economic and related only to the generation of individual & corporate wealth. We were left with a strong sense of anger, of sadness – and of betrayal.

Now, more than three years later, very little has changed.  In the past month we have learned that new and improved satellite technology has revealed that the oceans may be rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates.  (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – PIK)

In the meantime the international – and donor – community calls on us to “adapt.”

Yes, we accept that we need to do more to protect our coasts and water resources threatened by thoughtless pollution, but serious and sustained adaptation is a great unknown –it requires major funds and some of the world’s finest minds to point the way.

The majority of I-Kiribati have no wish to live in another country (NTNK Nat Survey, 2011) but mounting evidence suggests that we may soon have little choice in the matter – therefore migration may become the major element of adaptation.

But, there’s a problem.  Unlike our neighbours Tuvalu (Pop: approx 10,000) we have no significant or sympathetic migration relationship or policy with any country.

The current Kiribati population is more than 103,000 (Nat. Census – 2011).   How will the region handle a sudden influx of such large numbers of homeless people?

Very obviously it needs to start now.  In some ways the beginning steps are already underway.  With significant assistance from Australia, the government has commenced a major program of education reform, extending into vocational education which is working towards achieving Australian standards.  These steps come under the desire for I-Kiribati to migrate with dignity and contribute, rather than become a burden on their new hosts.

With regard to Climate Change the world chose not to hear our cry – will it be the same with the issue of migration?

Writing this piece has been quite testing – as a realist I can perhaps see the inevitability of migration.   But on a personal level, I have no wish to live anywhere else – this is my home, this is where my ancestors lie, and this is the only place where I can fully be the person I am – a woman of Kiribati.

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.