Thursday 10 December, 2009 -- Relocation is an option for the people of Kiribati who directly face the brunt of sea level rise and climate change, but the government does not want its people to become environmental refugees. Speaking at a side event at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kiribati, Tess Lambourne said capacities of people in Kiribati will be strengthened and built upon so that they will be able to relocate and migrate with “merit and dignity.” Ms Lambourne said upskilling of people in the fields of nursing and teacher training is currently underway in Kiribati in partnership with neighbouring countries Australia and New Zealand. The proposed plan when put in full mode is expected to result in productive i-Kiribati who will be able to contribute economically and socially to their adoptive home countries.
"But,” she said to a packed Liva Wire meeting room at the Bella Centre the location of the much anticipated conference. Kiribati and the Maldives are two countries in the world that have considered relocation. Ms Lambourne said Kiribati will continue to implement adaptation programs in Kiribati which includes a rigorous protection of national assets like the protection of hospital and the airport in South Tarawa.
Kiribati is our home, and in the Pacific the land is very important us because it is our spiritual link to our ancestors who fought and shed blood to ensure we had land to live on
While the panel discussion during the side event did not refer to the coastal adaptation initiative, initial estimations on the second phase of the Kiribati Adaptation Project (KAP II) is believed to be worth Australian $2.5 million dollars.
This amount is 30 percent of the total budget with another Australian $6.5 to $8 million required to complete the project. The side event at the COP 15, at Bella Centre was called “A Call to the World” which showcased a documentary and presentations from experts on the realities of life under extreme weather conditions in the atoll nation. Ms Lambourne and the Secretary in the President’s Office, Betarim Rimon challenged world leaders and officials to rise and make a difference in the plight of people not only in Kiribati but in neighbouring low lying nations and countries that are vulnerable in the Pacific.--ENDS