Tag Archives: climate change adaptation

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.

His Excellency Anote Tong

Tong talks sustainability in India

‘Adapting to the impacts of climate change’ is a key theme at this year’s Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) in India, where our own President HE Anote Tong will represent Kiribati as a key speaker.

His Excellency Anote Tong

His Excellency Anote Tong

The 13th annual event, which runs from 31 January to 2 February in New Delhi, India, has emerged as one of the leading forums on sustainable development and aims to explore the dimensions of promoting resource-efficient development as well as attempt to strengthen the global momentum for green growth as outlined at the Rio+20 Conference.

Other themes on the agenda include ‘mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and associated co-benefits’; ’employment and growth potential of a green economy’; and ‘defining the future we want’.

The event will host various heads of State and Government, thought leaders, policy makers, academics and academics, including President of the Asian Development Bank Haruhiko Kuroda and Former President of the Former Soviet Union HE Mikhail Gorbachev.

For more information visit the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit website.

 

Tebunginako villagers stand in the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus, The Age

Tebunginako Village

Tebunginako villagers stand in the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus/The Age

Tebunginako villagers stand near the sea where their village used to be. They had to relocate their village because of rising sea levels, erosion and saltwater inundation. Photo: Justin McManus/The Age

The village of Tebunginako on the island of Abaiang is a barometer for what Kiribati can expect in the future. The community has had to relocate due to the effects of severe coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. These impacts are already felt on the atolls of Kiribati and will be exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

When a coconut tree dies, the decay starts at the top. First the fruit falls, then the leaves. All that is left is a desiccated trunk, cut off at half-mast. In a low-lying area flooded with seawater, the dead palms look like natural tidal gauges, the high water mark visible on their stranded remains. There is no shortage of them in Tebunginako, a tiny village on an outer island of the Pacific republic of Kiribati.

Over the past 40 years the villagers have seen the sea rise, storm surges become more frequent and spring tides more forceful. Eventually the erosion was so great that the village had to be abandoned. The remains of about 100 thatched homes and a community meeting hall, or maneabe, sit up to 30 metres offshore. ”The contamination of the groundwater started in the late ’70s, and after that erosion started and houses started to fall into the sea,” recalls Aata Maroieta, the village chief said. ”The force of erosion was stronger than the sea walls and eventually the Government said, ‘All you can do is relocate.”

At Tebunginako, the money might have to be spent on another relocation. The village was rebuilt about 15 years ago, initially about 50 metres from the shore. It wasn’t far enough. Each day at high tide a handful of houses and the village’s biggest buildings—a Catholic church and giant concrete maneabe—are surrounded by a saltwater moat as the sea flows in and floods what was once a fresh-water pond.

Just like the coast, the food supply is in retreat. The fresh water milkfish that once fed the entire village are long gone, and plant life is fatally overdosing on salt. Taro—a starchy vegetable that grows in groundwater pits more than 200 metres from the coast—is increasingly killed by king tides.

Each year, villagers need to head further inland to find fresh food and water, but Kiribati’s 33 coral atolls and islands are skinny and average a height above sea level of only two metres. Inland only goes back so far.

”It is very difficult to find food these days,” Mr Maroieta says. ”It makes us feel sad that there is nothing left of our village. This is the place of our ancestors and we feel threatened and vulnerable.”

Case study 1: Tarawa

 

Students perform at the Abaunamou Pri-School Climate Change Skit Competition. Photo: KAPIII

Agents of change perform

Press Release, Bairiki, Tarawa 01 November, 2012

“TOXIC waste, toxic waste is lying everywhere in the lagoon,” chanted Class 5B to hundreds of people at the Abaunamou Pri-School Climate Change Skit Competition on Friday.

“Sinking and floating like a balloon,” they continued.

“Fish chase them for food.

“Without knowing that they are no good.

“Don’t throw toxic waste into the lagoon.

“So then the fish won’t die and never go up to the moon.”

The poem, created by Class 5B and their teacher, Mimitaake Aron, signaled the finale of the winning performance of the first-ever skit competition held by the school at St Ioteba Maneaba in Teaoraereke.

The competition featured more than 600 children, aged 6 to 12, who were part of 20 class skits about climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It was supported by the Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII) and Foundation of the South Pacific Kiribati (FSPK) who judged the competition alongside the Environment Conservation Division (ECD).

The children performed a variety of skits, with songs, dances, plays and poems conveying their English skills as well as important community messages such as why not to pollute, the dangers of coastal erosion and the benefits of recycling. For example, Class 5B’s winning message was: “From now on we will stop throwing toxic waste into the lagoon and we will try our best to make our lagoon the most beautiful lagoon in the world.”

Head Teacher Rabwa Ieremia said the competition not only benefited the children’s English and climate change knowledge, but also their parents who attended the performance as well as the wider community.

“Before the skit, some parents thought climate change was a problem overseas,” Ms Ieremia said.

“After the skit, the community has been asking questions about climate change and come to the realization that it’s a local problem that our community must address.

“They now know that we all contribute to these problems, such as throwing the rubbish into the sea, and they’re passing the message onto the local community and encouraging a change in behaviour.”

“This competition would not have been possible without the support of our parents, community, teachers, judges, Nei Tabera Ni Kai, KAPIII, FSPK and the ECD and we thank you all.”

Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III Project Manager Kautuna Kaitara said KAPIII was proud to support the efforts made by the school to take ownership of issues relating to climate change and their local community.

“The teachers, students and community have done a fantastic job in promoting positive key messages about climate change and relating them to their community,” Mr Kaitara said.

“Change starts at home and the school has taken ownership of changes that need to be made in the community, explained why they are important and provided solutions for change to their parents and friends.

“Children are just effective and sustainable ‘Agents of Change’ and it is hoped they will bring good changes in terms of understanding climate change and climate change adaptation throughout Kiribati.“

“I congratulate all students and teachers who participated in 20 wonderful and educational skits.”

About KAP:

The Kiribati Adaptation Program – Phase III (KAPIII), Office of Te Beretitenti, aims to increase freshwater supply and coastal infrastructure for the people and future of Kiribati.

KAPIII will achieve this objective under four key components to be achieved from 2012 to 2016:

  1. Improve water resource use and management;
  2. Increase coastal resilience;
  3. Strengthen the capacity to manage the effects of climate change and natural hazards; and
  4. Project management, monitoring and evaluation.

Read more about the Kiribati Adaptation Program

 

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP)

The Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP) aims to reduce Kiribati’s vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea level rise by raising awareness of climate change, assessing and protecting available water resources and managing inundation.

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

President Anote Tong helps plant mangroves in a KAPII initiative to protect our coastlines.

KAP is a project of the Office of the President, Government of Kiribati and consists of three phases, running from 2003 to 2016:

Phase I: Preparation (2003-2005)
Phase II : Pilot implementation (2006-2011)
Phase III: Expansion (2012-2016)

Initiatives include improving water supply management; coastal management protection measures such as mangrove re-plantation and protection of public infrastructure; strengthening laws to reduce coastal erosion; and population settlement planning to reduce personal risks.

KAP is financed through grants via the World Bank from Government of Australia; the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF); Japan Policy and Human Resources Development (PHRD); Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); and in-kind contribution from the Government of Kiribati.

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