Category Archives: Adaptation

Sunset in Tarawa.

New solar project for South Tarawa

A new solar energy project has the potential to reduce diesel fuel use in Kiribati by up to 230,000 litres a year.

A formal agreement for the project was signed between the Government of Kiribati and the World Bank at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland on Monday.

HE Anote Tong at the Pacific Energy Summit 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand.

HE Anote Tong at the Pacific Energy Summit 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Brendon O’Hagan

The project will install solar panels at four sites across the capital of South Tarawa and feed them into the existing power grid.

Training will also be provided to the Kiribati Public Utilities Board to operate and maintain the solar power stations.

The project is expected to reduce diesel fuel use in Kiribati by up to 230,000 litres a year, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At present, it is estimated almost half of Kiribati’s 110,000 people live on Tarawa atoll and are dependent on expensive diesel generators to produce electricity.

The signing ceremony took place at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland and was attended by President of Kiribati Anote Tong and World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands Franz Drees-Gross.

Shifting Kiribati’s focus to reliable solar energy will provide a more secure and sustainable power source for the country’s people, President Anote Tong said.

Mr Drees-Gross said: “This project is a win-win for Kiribati and sets an important precedent for renewable energy development in the country.”

Find out more about the 2013 Pacific Energy Summit

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

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.

Kiribati National Experts Team leading the development fo the KJIP with members from regional organisations. Photo: Contributed.

Joint national action plan for Kiribati

Kiribati will soon have a national integrated action plan on climate change and disaster risk management.

Kiribati National Experts Team leading the development fo the KJIP with members from regional organisations. Photo: Contributed.

Kiribati is adapting the process for developing a joint national action plan for climate change and disaster risk management (JNAP) by developing a Kiribati Joint Implementation Plan (KJIP) to facilitate the implementation of the recently endorsement Disaster Risk Management Plan and the National Framework for Climate Change and Climate Change Adaptation Framework.

Through the KJIP cohesive actions to improve resiliency to climate change and disasters will be prioritised for action consistent with national development goals.

The KJIP development is led by the Government of Kiribati, which has established a core group of national experts from the various sectors including civil society and community groups.

“The KJIP process is nationally led and we’re pleased to be working with the national expert team,” said Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, the Director of Climate Change, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

“The process is equally important as the product (the KJIP) as the process demonstrates participatory approaches, careful assessment and analysis of vulnerability, prioritisation and costing. However, the implementation expected to follow once the plan is completed and approved, is highly anticipated by the experts group and the people of Kiribati”.

This view was also raised during a meeting with Kiribati Parliamentarians where Parliamentarians called for a focus on implementation, in particular, the need to ensure that national and community capacities are strengthened to enable timely responses to climate change impacts, thus reducing disaster risks.

SPREP is leading a regional support team made up of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, GIZ, United Nations Development Programme and Australia AID. The team was in Kiribati during the first two weeks of February to start the process.

As a key part of developing the KJIP, stakeholder and community views and development aspirations are collected and discussed together with a literature review that includes studies and reports on climate change impacts, exposure to hazards and vulnerability.

It is expected that the Kiribati Joint Implementation Plan will be finalised by the end of this year.

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

Climate Change Public Hearing 2013

MEDIA RELEASE (April 2013, Office of The President)

A new chapter in the history of Kiribati will unfold this Friday when a first-ever National High-level Climate Change Public Hearing Banner webPublic Hearing on Climate Change gets underway at the nation’s capital, Bairiki.

Post-event story available now

Themed as “Let’s work together to build national resilience against Climate Change impacts”, the public hearing will see panel members address the nation on the issue of climate change as well as respond to questions from the public.

Initiated by the Parliament Select Committee on Climate Change, whose one-year tenure comes to an end in August this year, the panel will involve key figures in the nation namely the Head of State and President, Heads of Faith-Based Organizations, Head of Gender-based organizations, Leaders of Political parties, Representatives of Youth, Independent Local Scientists and regional scientific organizations and, concerned citizens.

“The overarching aim in conducting a public hearing as such is to keep citizens informed and to consolidate a national shared hope and vision for a better future of the people of Kiribati while adapting to the impacts of climate change,” MP Rimeta Beniamina, Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Climate Change and an MP from the island of Nikunau, said.

Mr Beniamina added the public hearing hopes to enhance the understanding of the general public about the issue of climate change and their responsibilities as citizens to complement the Government’s efforts to implement adaptation programs and also to encourage national leaders to jointly work together to prepare their people to be able to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The National High-level Public Hearing on Climate Change will be aired live on national radio and will see panelists delivering their respective statements on the issue and responding to questions from the general public on the ground, through telephone calls and also via a Facebook page.

The public hearing is on Friday, 19 April 2013 at the Bairiki Square starting from 9.30 am and will be broadcast live across Kiribati on BPA National Radio.

The general public is invited to participate in this national event. For those who can’t attend, voice your questions on our Facebook page (NOW CLOSED) and a select number will be submitted to the panel on the day.

His Excellency President Anote Tong

‘Global collective action’ needed

H.E Beretitenti Anote Tong’s Statement on the occasion of the Dili International Conference, Dili, Timor Lester, 27 February 2013…

His Excellency President Anote Tong

His Excellency President Anote Tong

Opening Remarks

Our gracious host, H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste; Fellow Leaders; Members of the G7+; Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Noeleen Heyzer; Distinguished participants; Ladies and Gentlemen;

I bring you warm greetings from the people of the Pacific on whose behalf I am both honored and privileged to address this gathering – Kam na mauri!

It gives me great pleasure to join this gathering – a gathering which I believe is unique and convened for the first time bringing together voices of the most fragile and conflict-affected states. This is long overdue and I thank the conference conveners and all those involved in making this possible, notably UNESCAP, AusAID, the Pacific Institute of Public Policy as well as the g7+ group for deeming it fit that this happens today in this beautiful country.

I wish to thank and acknowledge with appreciation the warm welcome and excellent hospitality extended to all of us since our arrival yesterday morning by the Government and people of Timor Leste. Mr Prime Minister, I must say that already, we feel so much at home by the overwhelming hospitality, attentiveness and endless smiles of your staff and people – Obrigadu!

Challenges: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals

Let me begin by taking us back to that critical moment in 2000 when our leaders at the time gathered in New York to set the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. As I reflect on what were they were thinking at the time, I conclude that it is for one crucial purpose – to set in place landmarks which would guide our course towards achieving a better and secure future for our future generations.

Now with less than two years away from the cut-off date of 2015, we have rightly begun to ask ourselves questions; Are we on track towards achieving these goals?

I have no doubt that for many of us, the answer would be no. And of course this raises the next question – Why is this? What is preventing us from achieving the goals? This takes us to the heart of our gathering today – to assess what has prevented us from achieving our MDGs in the context of our fragile situations and how do we frame the post 2015 development agenda bearing in mind those obstacles.

I believe that to determine and plan for the future, we must reflect on the past and learn from our experience, most particularly our mistakes, for they hold the key to the answers and perhaps offer solutions to our problems. As a region, we from the Pacific took the opportunity to do that yesterday. I believe that a detailed report on the outcomes of these consultations will be submitted separately but let me encapsulate them from my perspective.

I acknowledge that much can and must be done to improve our own internal management of our affairs by putting in place policies and tools which will address the inequities existing within our borders and within our control in order to work towards our MDGs. However it is also true that for most of us, the lack of positive and in some cases the reversal of progress towards achieving our MDGs were often attributed to factors outside our control – such as the global financial crisis, fuel price hikes, severe natural disasters, lack of control in determining returns on our resources and so on. Our deep vulnerabilities to these external shocks were made blatantly clear. I believe that if we, as a global community are serious about addressing these issues then support must be provided to the so called fragile states to build their resilience against these external factors so that their people may be assured of living worthwhile lives – one of the keys objectives of the Pacific Plan.

Climate Change also came out very clearly as an issue which has and will increasingly dominate the national development agenda of most countries. For some countries climate change will threaten their very survival as nations and the future of their people. Needless to say, that this is clearly one of those external factors bedeviling our progress towards achieving not only our MDGs but our very future survival. And of course the solution to this challenge is beyond the capacity of any single nation but requires collective global action.

In the Pacific, the degree of our fragility and insecurity will increasingly be due to climate change and the implications it poses on various aspects of our lives ranging from food security, health, increasing salinity in our water lens, our resources as well as our very survival and existence.  I have no doubt that in many of the Pacific Island countries, we have and will continue to receive endless requests from our local communities to assist in building seawalls to protect and rebuild properties damaged by natural disasters and even help local communities relocate and rebuild their communities.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot pretend to ignore the reality and the extent of damage that climate change has posed on our communities and island states. There is simply no choice. The reality is, regardless of how much effort we directed towards our MDGs, any progress will be negated by the inevitable and increasing severity of climate change. For those countries on the frontline of this challenge and already feeling the impacts, the question will be over the allocation of resources between addressing the impacts of climate change now and in the future or delivering on our MDG targets. I make these comments simply to emphasize the increasing dominance of climate change on our national and indeed the global agenda.

I want to take a few moments to share with you our response to the climate change challenge. In Kiribati, we have recently developed our own national adaptation framework and disaster risk management plans to guide our work in this area.  This framework embraces two principles – accepting the reality of climate change impacts (the science) and making the commitment to ensure that our home islands remain in existence for as long as possible. This framework is based on a whole of nation approach involving Government, the legislature and the people but in order to implement this strategy we will need substantial resources. We hope that much of it will be forthcoming from our partners and also hope that some we can provide ourselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that much of our fragility is a product of our own perception of ourselves. In the Pacific we refer to ourselves as small island states whereas in reality we are large ocean states, custodians of some of the planets vast resources. By way of example, let me once again refer to our experience in the Pacific for I have no doubt at all that the same situation will apply to other regions and countries. In the Pacific we collectively possess one of the most extensive Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) on this planet which is host to the last remaining healthy stocks of tuna. Extensive deposits of deep seabed minerals and in some countries oil and gas deposits have also been identified within these EEZs. So far, exploitation of these resources whether fisheries or oil and gas have invariably been at the initiative of those countries with the capacity to do so – usually our developed partners – and invariably in most if not all cases the rate of return on these to resource owners has been minimal.

In the case of fisheries the usual rate of return would be around 5 to 8 percent of the landed value of the fish caught. The value of the fish caught in our waters in Kiribati alone would be between 400 to 500 million dollars annually. Based on these numbers it is quite conceivable therefore that if the right conditions were facilitated to ensure more equitable returns to fragile nations which own the resources, then the ability of these fragile states to withstand any external shocks to their development progress would be considerably enhanced.

Closing remarks

Ladies and gentlemen I believe we must take the initiative to chart our own course in leading global thinking on areas that are crucial not only to the wellbeing of our people but to the whole of humanity. It is time we must step forward onto the global stage as independent, sovereign and equal partners in the international community. For so long, we had been too preoccupied with being small developing countries, irrelevant and insignificant. When our very survival and those of our future generations are on the line, we have a responsibility and duty to participate in the debate, even dominate it.

Developing the Pacific Oceascape is an excellent example of how we as small island states can influence global thinking on an issue that is of great relevance to us as ocean states. The Pacific Oceanscape was endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009 and has now gained momentum with the launch of the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans Program at the Rio+ 20 in 2012. The prime objective of this initiative is to conserve the world oceans hopefully before it is too late.

In closing ladies and gentlemen, I believe that achieving development for all is about redressing the inequities which abound around us whether it is about the injustice of climate change or demanding a more equitable rate of return on our resources. Even in the absence of any regulatory regime whether at the national or international level, it is about the moral justice of our actions as human beings with our conscience as our only guide.

I wish you all the very best as we continue to deliberate on an issue so crucial for our future generation and to share with you our Kiribati’s traditional blessings of

Te Mauri (Health), Te Raoi (Peace) ao Te Tabomoa (Prosperity).

Hillary Institute

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.

Local IKiribati children face an uncertain future as their islands' capacity to support the population diminishes. Photo: Finn Frandsen, Politiken

Education key to Kiribati’s future

Australia Network Pacific Correspondent Sean Dorney’s article on Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong’s recent interview with Australia Network’s Newsline and joint statement with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr to the UN Security Council …

The President of Kiribati says education is the key to the future of his people threatened by climate change.

President Anote Tong told Australia Network’s Newsline that if some of the Kiribati population has to relocate he wants them to qualify as skilled migrants, not climate refugees.

President Tong made a joint statement to the United Nations Security Council with Australia’s foreign minister, Bob Carr.

“We are asking for assistance from Australia to try and put this across… to the international community, to make the point that… climate change for some countries is a very serious security issue,” he said.

President Tong said his government’s purchase of land in Fiji is an investment for the future.

Read the full story at ABC News Online

Media producer and climate change advocate Linda Uan.

‘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.

Part of the main road on South Tarawa.

Australia to give $15 million for road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Excellency Anote Tong

‘Sustainable development, climate change inseparable’

Kiribati President His Excellency Anote Tong’s address to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, January 31- February 2 2013…

 Opening remarks

Every year, we converge here in this beautiful city of Delhi to take stock of our progress towards achieving sustainable development and to continue our quest for the elusive formula needed to remedy the associated challenges including that of climate change. But such a mission would seem impossible if we are not willing to accept that these remedies will come with costs and must call for sacrifice. In other words we want our pie but are also eating it at an ever increasing rate. But ladies and gentlemen the law of balance does not permit that.

Dr. Pachauri, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI); Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, Chairman of the Governing Council of TERI; Y.E Mr Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana; Y.E Mr. James Alex Michel, President of Seychelles; fellow leaders; distinguished participants; friends from the business communities; ladies and gentleman … Kam na Mauri, Namaskar and Greetings to you all.

Once again I am deeply honoured and grateful for the opportunity to address the 2013 session of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. Not only is it a pleasure to meet old friends again and to make new acquaintances but more importantly it provides us with the opportunity to interact as like-minded people, to deliberate on humankind’s ongoing quest for solutions to ensure the survival of our planet and that of humanity.

We would not be all here today if we did not believe in the value of the continuity of life on earth and that it is under serious threat. I have no doubt that we all agree that these threats are global in nature and that their solution calls for collective global action; that the only way forward to make any progress in addressing these challenges, is by acting together, as one global family.  But sadly in spite of our ongoing rhetoric we have up to this moment remained unable to achieve what we set out to accomplish simply because it is not convenient.  But giving up the quest is not an option because the future we want for our children and our children’s children is at stake.

The Future We Want

In June last year at the historical Rio+20 Conference, the world defined and produced the Future We Want document to advocate a stronger case for sustainable development as the way forward to saving the world from the chains of unsustainable and selfish rates of development. In the 20 years since the Earth Summit of 1992, the Future We Want has now become the most important guide in much of the ongoing discussions on sustainable development including those that will take place here at this summit. But once again as with the holy texts we will as individuals and nations have our own interpretations of the Future We Want. And I believe that herein lies the secret to our inability to make progress on this very critical debate – since we come on board the debating stage with our own predetermined mandates based on our individual national priorities as determined by our respective Governments. We are consistently repeating the mistake of believing that the ongoing discussions (negotiations) on global challenges such as sustainable development and climate change are just another opportunity to protect and to ensure that our levels of GDP are not put in jeopardy by any remedies proposed or binding agreements concluded to address these issues.

The Future We Want will unavoidably call for a frank assessment of our international decision making structure. It requires bold but rational political commitment on a global scale. We must be brutally honest in accepting the reality that unless and until we can sit at a single Cabinet meeting table to deliberate on the future we want for our planet and our future generations the prospects for success are bleak indeed. Once again I pose the question “Whose interests are we pursuing? Are we here to secure the future of each other’s children or just our own?”

We no doubt all agree that humankind is a highly complicated species with the capacity to do immense good but also unimaginable evil. History has time and again demonstrated how true this has been as we recall the wonderful deeds of sacrifice of such personalities as Mother Theresa of India, visionary and courageous leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi but at the same time history has witnessed and will forever condemn the horrors which are a product of bad leadership. Today we stand at the crossroad in history to be judged by our action or inaction as leaders and citizens in addressing these critical challenges facing humanity on a global scale.

I believe that The Future We Want must acknowledge and address the special need of those at the extreme end of the vulnerability scale. Countries like Kiribati and the Maldives and other small islands grappling with the challenges of climate change while at the same time struggling to meet MDG commitments. 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 a global community have failed to do.

Even at the risk of repeating myself, I would like to refer to our initiative in closing off 400,000 square km of our EEZ from commercial fishing activities. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is our contribution to global oceans conservation efforts which has now been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Following on from that in 2010 the Pacific Oceanscape was adopted as a regional initiative of the Pacific Island nations. In 2011 and 2012 other Pacific countries including the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Australia and the adjoining Pacific waters of the United States have been designated marine protected as components of the Pacific Oceanscape. At the Rio + 20 Conference the World Bank also launched the Global Oceans Partnership program thereby adding momentum to what began as a national initiative. The momentum is growing as more countries in the Pacific are considering making similar commitments. My purpose in raising this issue is twofold – the first is simply to demonstrate that establishing such global conservation initiatives are achievable; the second is to note that this has been achieved without prolonged and contentious negotiations.

Post 2015 and where to from here?

The most important question challenging us today at this summit is whether our ongoing efforts in addressing the issues of sustainable development and climate change remain relevant and (or indeed) effective?

From the perspective of a small island (but large ocean state) like Kiribati my answer would be no. The next question is “what are the chances of positive progress in ever concluding an agreement on climate change?” Very little I would answer. So do we perish as a species?

Ladies and gentlemen let me share with you some of the thoughts which have flashed through my mind in moments of frustration and desperation. And I do take full responsibility if they may come across as being radical and unrealistic. I dream of having a broad (without details) agreement on issues over which there is consensus based on science. I believe we all agree that no one wants to destroy this planet. Based on this broad consensus I believe we could examine existing international agreements with the objective of adding climate change and sustainable development components where there are none or giving greater force to those clauses drafted by those visionary people who at the time had no conclusive information on climate change that we do today.

Existing international arrangements in maritime transportation for example have provisions dealing with polluting of the marine environment but none restricting the continued use of inefficient marine engines to set acceptable levels of GHG emissions. We in the Western and Central Tuna fisheries as (Pacific Island countries) Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have unilaterally set some conditions of access into our EEZ which may not conform strictly  with the existing provisions of UNCLOS but which we believe to be very much in the spirit of UNCLOS which enshrines the principle of protecting the commons. I believe that if we take the opportunity to scrutinize other international agreements in trade, aviation and others we may well find a pathway which may be less contentious than the current UNFCCC negotiations. As I said these are just desperate propositions born of desperation and frustration. I challenge all of us here especially TERI to give it a look but I take full responsibility if it turns out to be a silly proposition.

Closing remarks

Mr. Chair, I look forward to the discussions that will unfold here today and in the next few days of this summit. Before I take my seat, I want to take this opportunity to thank TERI, the Board of Directors and of course Dr. Pachauri for remaining faithful to this cause and maintaining pressure for solutions.  I also extend my gratitude to the Government and people of India for the warmth and the kind hospitality extended to us since our arrival into this great city.

In conclusion I wish the 2013 DSDS deliberations every success and I extend and share with you our traditional blessings of Te Mauri (Health), Te Raoi(Peace) ao Te Tabomoa (Prosperity). Kam rabwa.

For more information visit the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit website.