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Friday, 04 July 2014

Kiribati Buys Part Fiji To Escape Climate Change

The president of Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific ocean, recently purchased eight square miles of land about 1,200 miles away on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island. Like other Pacific Island nations, including Tuvalu and the Maldives, Kiribati is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — especially sea level rise. In certain areas around these islands sea level is rising by 1.2 centimeters a year, about four times more than the global average. Within decades significant chunks risk submersion.
Kiribati president Anote Tong is well aware of this, saying of the purchase, “we would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it.”
With just over 100,000 people scattered across 33 low-lying coral atolls totaling about 313 square miles, the land purchase provides some guaranteed high ground to escape to if sea level rise renders the country mostly uninhabitable. The Church of England owned the land, which is mainly covered in forest, and sold it to Kiribati for $8.77 million. Barring imminent relocation, it will be used primarily for agriculture and aquatic farming to ensure Kiribati’s food security. With sea level rise contaminating groundwater and climate change causing devastating coral bleaching, the nation’s food supply is also in jeopardy.
In a statement, the government said the purchase marked “a new milestone” in its “development plans, which include exploring options of commercial, industrial and agricultural undertakings such as fish canning, beef/poultry farming, fruit and vegetable farming.”
Kiribati is the first country to actually purchase land in another country as a hedge against climate change.