Kiribati's Second National Communication - In Progress

Introduction

The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities. The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

The combination of its geographic location and economic situation makes Kiribati one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Global temperature increase affects coral growth and sea level. In Kiribati, coastal erosion, sea water from storm surges inundating the land, extensive sea spray, and coral bleaching are being observed, impacts consistent with what to expect from climate change. These changes are adversely affecting the people’s livelihood. Climate change, through its impacts of sea level rise, are leading to coastal erosion, and more frequent and damaging storm surges which are expected to increasingly reduce vital agricultural productivity of crops such as pandanus varieties and coconut.

To view progress on Kiribati's SNC click here.

Project Details

Kiribati is situated in the Central Pacific Ocean and consists of 33 atolls with a total land area of about 800 sq km. The atolls have a maximum height of 3 to 4 m above mean sea level and support an estimated population of about 95,000 people.  Most people live a subsistence lifestyle, as the country is amongst the poorest and least developed countries in the world - having only a few natural resources, the main industries are tourism and the exports of Copra and fish. The combination of its geographic location and economic situation makes Kiribati one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Global temperature increase affects coral growth and sea level. It is known that the heat content of the oceans has increased, and this could mean increase in internal energy (turbidity enhancement) of the oceans and/or increase in sea level. In Kiribati, coastal erosion, sea water from storm surges inundating the land, extensive sea spray, and coral bleaching are being observed - quite consistent with what to expect from climate change. These changes are adversely affecting the people’s livelihood. Climate change through its impacts of sea level rise leading to coastal erosion, and more frequent and damaging storm surges bounding on the edges of the land will reduce agricultural productivity such as of pandanus varieties, and coconut.

Adaptation Needs and Priorities

The Kiribati Government’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change released in 1999 describes the vulnerabilities of the country, with a focus on the potential adverse impacts of sea level rise. The impacts include brackish water invasions, coastal erosion and reduced groundwater quality and quantity. Throughout the document, there in an emphasis on the melding of traditional practices in agriculture and extreme weather event preparation. This report includes a list of projects planned by the Kiribati government to address is adaptation needs, including (MESD, 1999):
 
  • Establishment of a climate change and sea level monitoring center.
  • Formation of an integrated coastal zone management plan.
  • Public awareness programming.
  • Education and training program.
  • Research and information dissemination.
  • Technology transfers program.
  • Water supplies program.
  • Alternative energy source program.

In its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), Kiribati builds upon these observations to identify nine key areas in which adaptation action is required. These nine key areas (as detailed in Table 3) include implementation in the areas of (MELAD, 2007):

  • Freshwater–A water resources adaptation project; and a well improvement project to improve public health;
  • Coastal zones–A coastal zone management program for adaptation; 
  • Risk reduction and monitoring–A strengthening of climate change information and monitoring program; upgrading of coastal defenses and causeways; and upgrading of meteorological services;
  • Marine resources–Coral monitoring, restoration and stock enhancement; and
  • Agriculture–Agricultural food crops development.
 
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
 
The prominent documents of the Government of Kiribati that document is adaptation needs, priorities and action plans are its  Initial National Communication and its NAPA, the latter of which was released in 2007. As well, Kiribati has initiated efforts to mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into its development processes through the Kiribati Adaptation Program, adoption of a Climate Change Adaptation Policy Note and a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy released in 2005. This strategy identifies eight priority areas for action: (1) integration of climate change adaptation into national planning and institutional capacity; (2) use of external financial and technical assistance; (3) population and resettlement; (4) government and services; (5) freshwater resources and supply systems; (6) coastal structures, land use and agricultural production; (7) marine resources; and (8) survivability and self-reliance
(Government of Kiribati, 2005).
 
As well, the Kiribati Development Plan (2008–2011) recognizes the potential adverse consequences of climate change for national development. In addition, Kiribati’s National Water Resource Policy completed in 2008 integrates consideration of the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change (KAP, n.d.).
 
Current Adaptation Action
 
The moderate number of adaptation projects, relative to other Pacific Island developing countries, are underway in Kiribati, most of which seek to build local capacity. The projects mainly focus on several sectors, namely: coastal zone management, water, meteorology, forestry and fisheries. Notably, Kiribati has hosted the Kiribati Adaptation Program since 2003. This program has progressively support understanding of climate change impacts, development of adaptation measures and the integration of adaptation into policy and planning. In its third phase, this initiative is supporting implementation of actions identified in Kiribati’s NAPA.
 
Proposed Adaptation Action
 
Within its NAPA, Kiribati identified nine priority projects for implementation. Some of these planned actions are now being supported through the project “Increasing Resilience to Climate Variability and Hazards” financed by the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). 
 
References:

 

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Kiribati
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Under Implementation
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
420,000
Co-Financing Total: 
410,000

Key Results and Outputs

  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Potential Adaptation Measures:

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Educational & outreach activities to change management practices to those suited to climate change
  • Switch to different cultivars

Water Resources

  • Decrease water demands, e.g. by increasing efficiency, reducing water losses, water recycling, changing irrigation practices
  • Improve or develop water management

Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems

  • Develop Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Protect, including building sea walls, and beach nourishment
  • Research/monitor the coastal ecosystem

Monitoring and Evaluation

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.

Contacts

UNDP
Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
UNDP
Emma Mario
Country Officer
Government of Kiribati
Riibeta Abeta
Project Coordinator