Tag Archives: climate change

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).

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 350.org 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.

People’s life in the Pacific is a big laughing joke: Australian Minister of Immigration and Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The Betio Maternity Ward in Kiribati's capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

The Betio Maternity Ward on Tarawa atoll – Kiribati’s capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

While climate change is an issue that concerns the life and very existence of people in the Pacific Island nations, it is somehow a big laughing joke according to Australian Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Climate Change was a top agenda for Pacific Island leaders at the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea where Abbott also joined.

The agenda, as anticipated, was greatly watered down by the Pacific’s very own ‘bigger brothers’ Australia and New Zealand resulting in a failure for the Pacific grouping to reach a strong and unified declaration to take to Paris.

And in only less than 24 hours after the forum, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott upon returning to Canberra, laughed recklessly at a joke made by his fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Island people on climate change.

Ironically and oblivious to it, a camera with a boom microphone had captured the whole conversation which included the insensitive joke – which in essence, is a big slap to the faces of Pacific Island leaders who passionately pleaded for a declaration that will help save their people from the impacts of climate change at the recent forum meeting.

Watch video here: PM Abbott laughing recklessly at a joke made by fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Islanders on climate change

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The Betio Hospital was hit hard during the March 2015 Spring Tide causing it to be temporarily relocated to the Betio Sports Complex. The hospital has since resumed normal operations after the coastal area was fortified by slabs of concrete sea-walls

Gathering freshwater from a well in Kiribati.

Rain Water Harvesting Contract for Construction signed

The objective of the Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase III (KAPIII) is to ‘Improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change on freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure’. One of the infrastructure projects funded under KAPIII is the construction of rainwater harvesting systems on North Tarawa.

KAPIII Water Engineer, Marella Rebgetz, explained that “in keeping with the fact that KAPIII is a climate adaptation project, rather than a water infrastructure project, the provision of rainwater in North Tarawa is primarily aimed at trying to provide a reserve water supply for drought times, rather than an additional water supply for general use. Thus rainwater systems will be fitted on existing Church buildings, but the systems are to be owned and maintained by the village, rather than the Church, and the water is to be conserved for times when the wells go brackish.”

The contract for construction works for Rain Water Harvesting on North Tarawa was signed on Wednesday, 31 December 2014 between the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities (MPWU) and King Holdings Ltd. King Holdings will be constructing Rain Water Harvesting Works on Tearinibai KPC church, Nuatabu KPC church, Nuatabu Catholic church, Taratai Catholic church, Tabonibara Catholic church and Tabonibara Catholic maneaba.

The selection of villages was chosen so as to complement the villages being covered under the KIRIWATSAN Rainwater Harvesting Project.

KAPIII Program Manager, Kautuna Kaitara said that, extensive community engagement has been undertaken with these communities both to obtain their input into the designs, and to obtain their agreement regarding how the systems are to be operated and maintained.

A MoU between the village and the Churches has been signed regarding ownership, maintenance and operation of the system, and the sharing and conservation of water. Further community engagement with the villages to establish a committee to manage the systems is ongoing.

The works are expected to be completed by June this year.

The Kiribati Adaptation Program- Phase III (KAPIII) is a five-year project under the Office of the President and 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.

Kiribati President, Anote Tong and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.  Photo credit: EU-Audio Visual Services.

EU announces $23 million Euro for Kiribati

Kiribati President, Anote Tong and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.  Photo credit: EU-Audio Visual Services.

Kiribati President, Anote Tong and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica. Photo credit: EU-Audio Visual Services.

A $ 23 million Euro commitment was just signed between the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica and President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong in Brussels.

The funding will help to improve economic opportunities and livelihoods in Kiribati by developing Kiritimati, thereby also helping to alleviate growing climate change threats affecting the main island Tarawa as well as poverty. It includes supportive measures such as enhancing administrative capacities and boosting civil society organizations.

Announcing the support, Commissioner Mimica said, “Despite the geographical distance between the EU and Kiribati, I’d like to underline the EU’s ongoing commitment and support to being a firm partner to the country, as well as the Pacific region as a whole: particularly in its fight against climate change.”


Side event in Lima, Peru

Kiribati holds successful joint-side event with Taiwan at the margins of UNFCCC meeting in Lima, Peru

Side event in Lima, Peru

Side event in Lima, Peru

Press release – San Borja (Lima Peru) 8 December 2014

Ambassador Makurita Baaro took the audience into a journey of reality, beginning with the show casing of a local climate change song and video clip by the Kiribati Climate Change Children’s Network, where the children of Kiribati plea to world leaders for climate justice.

She then told participants that while the islands will not disappear in the next decade or so, climate change has already taken a toll on the islands with coastal erosion, constant sea intrusion affecting water lens and water supplies, Government expenses on the rise to protect public infrastructure, and agricultural activities difficult from the onslaught of sea level rise coupled with poor in-fertile soil.

Our Government has taken every effort to adapt to these new realities, Ambassador Baaro says, now it is has launched a comprehensive joint implementation plan on climate change and disaster called the KJIP and is taking a whole of nation approach to tackle the problem as well as preparing for the worst case scenario in the future.

She adds the four-month old grouping of the most vulnerable countries called the coalition of low lying atoll nations on climate change – CANCC – is another undertaking by Government to leverage advocate and tell the story of the plight of peoples in small low lying countries like, Tuvalu, Maldives, Tokelau, Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Uniting to join forces to focus global attention on the plight of their people, these atoll nations are barely three meters above sea-water level.  The CANCC inaugural meeting was held in Tarawa, Kiribati in July this year and is an open coalition inclusive of potential atoll islands including country and development partners genuinely interested in supporting their cause.

“It is no longer about who is to blame and what caused it?” she said. It is a common problem affecting us all and affecting our children and theirs. It is about working together, all of us within our capabilities, working together as good global citizens to address a major challenge to our one and only home…our Planet Earth”

‘We are the early warning system for the world, what’s going to happen to us will also happen to millions of people living in major coastal cities around the world, acting now is the only possible and most appropriate cause of action,’ she said.

Ambassador Baaro also took a time to acknowledge the continued partnership the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has done to Kiribati in many different areas that have had impact on Kiribati’s effort to tackle climate change.

The Kiribati-ITRI join side event was also attended by a Parliamentary delegation from Taipei, Taiwan.

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Her Execellency  Makurita Baaro delivers her speech in Lima, Peru

Coalition of Low Lying Atoll Nations on Climate Change meets at sidelines of UNFCCC meeting in Lima, Peru

Her Execellency  Makurita Baaro delivers her speech in Lima, Peru

Her Execellency Makurita Baaro delivers her speech in Lima, Peru

Press release – San Borja (Lima-Peru) 7 December 2014

Born out from an inaugural Leaders’ meeting in Kiribati’s capital Tarawa in July 2014 hosted by Beretitenti Tong, Kiribati’s Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, HE Makurita Baaro says this is the first Ministerial and Ambassadorial level meet of the coalition members, following the most recent CANCC leaders meeting held in Apia, Samoa at the sidelines of the Third UN Conference of SIDS in September.

“The leaders agreed in Apia that officials from the five countries’ capitals (Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Tokelau) shall progress three major goals of the young coalition, and that is, the setting up of a climate alert fund for the coalition, consider options for the institutionalization of the coalition and to agree on milestone events for 2015,” Ambassador Baaro said.

The meeting not only provided the opportunity for members of the coalition to discuss and progress these directives from Leaders but was also seen by the meeting as a welcomed opportunity to strengthen CANCC, still very much in its infancy requiring collective and constant nurturing from all members.

While the coalition is very much in its infancy the meeting further reiterated their countries commitment to see this coalition through based on the very real fact the member countries have so much to gain by working together being at the frontline of the most vulnerable in the face of climate change, for the benefit of their respective citizens.

In considering the decision by CANCC Leaders in Apia to look into the establishment of a Climate Alert Fund for the coalition, the meeting agreed to pool their capacity as one in developing the concept of the  fund given the experience each country has in managing their own individual trust funds. It was also important to consider this in the context of new developments happening on climate financing. Officials agreed to first discuss the establishment of the CAF with relevant national stakeholders including financial experts in their capitals. The subject will then be further discussed in February 2015 at the wings of the ADP Session in Geneva.

The meeting agreed that it was important to ensure that the CAF adds value to all the members by way of acting as a catalyst to improve access to new climate funding including the new Green Climate Fund and other climate funding facilities.

The meeting agreed that as frontline nations to climate change, it is important to take the lead in the Ratification of the Doha Amendments as a way of showing its commitment to the COP process and advocate expediting its ratification in other groups.

The meeting also highlighted the critical importance of the coming year in the lead up to COP 21 in France and the finalization of the post 2015 Development Agenda and agreed that CANCC member countries should take every opportunity to meet at the margins of all key UN high-level events that are related to climate change and sustainable development.

The Meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, Honourable Taukelina Finikaso, the Kiribati and Maldives Ambassadors to the United Nations, Senior officials from the Marshall Islands as well as officials from Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Maldives.

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Mid Term Review Team during the wrap up meeting

KAPIII Mid Term Review


Mid Term Review Team during wrap up meeting

Mid Term Review Team during wrap up meeting

The Government of Kiribati, The World Bank Team together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT – Australia) conducted a Mid-Term Review on the Kiribati Adaptation Program Phase – III (KAPIII) from 30 Oct to 6 Nov 2014.

Consultations was carried out with major key stakeholders like the Office of Te Beretitenti, Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, Ministry of Environment Lands and Agricultural Development , Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Public Utilities Board and others.

KAPIII was implemented since March 2012 and it has been two and half years since its official commencement date.

The mission highlighted some of the achievements which included the substantial implementation of the leak measurement and detection program on the PUB transmission main, confirming locations for the abstraction galleries that witnessed land owners sign the voluntary land use agreement in North Tarawa, completed designs for rainwater harvesting systems based on community consultations, engagement of a Water Governance advisor assisting the GoK Task Force to address issues on both Bonriki and Buota Water Reserve to name a few.

One of the many positive outcomes of the mission was that the Government of Kiribati has confirmed its determination to complete the project on time (i.e. through 31 August 2016) and within budget. It also endorsed strengthening the management to undertake the large remaining tasks, including completing the seawalls, leak repairs, rain water harvesting and abstraction galleries using local contractors. Overall the outcome of the KAPIII mid-term review had been productive.