Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific - Kiribati
Australia is supporting Pacific governments, businesses and communities to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience. At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years to strengthen resilience in the Pacific from 2020. This builds on the commitment to spend $300 million over four years from 2016.
Australia is committed to working in partnership with the people of Kiribati to increase climate change action and disaster resilience across the country. We are integrating climate change and disaster resilience across the aid program in Kiribati, including in our education and skills programs.
- Many homes already experience regular flooding from king tides and storm surges. As coastal erosion increases, more houses will need to be rebuilt or moved, which will be challenging given the country's very small land area. Australia has helped increase shoreline protection in South Tarawa to reduce the impacts of storm surges.
- Climate change is exacerbating a wide range of challenges facing Kiribati - from coastal erosion and flooding to water and food security. Australia is ensuring that climate change risks and resilience building are integrated into our support for skills building programs. This will help ensure I-Kiribati have the skills they will need to adapt as impacts escalate.
- Kiribati is already experiencing more days with extremely heavy rainfall. Run-off from heavy rain often contaminates fresh water sources and increases the likelihood of children getting life-threatening diarrhoea. Australia is ensuring that schools and communities are resilient to climate change impacts and have access to secure freshwater supplies.
- As climate change impacts escalate, Kiribati will require significant external support to implement priority adaptation actions, like protecting coastal zones and safeguarding water supplies. Australia is helping build the capacity of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to access and effectively utilise global climate finance.
Kiribati is internationally recognised as one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts. Most of its 33 islands sit less than 2m above sea level, and with the atolls averaging less than 500m in width, communities are often displaced due to sea storms and high tides. The impacts of climate change on Kiribati's freshwater supplies, coastal infrastructure and agricultural land, reefs and fisheries are projected to worsen over time, particularly in South Tarawa.
Australia has provided approximately $13 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Kiribati since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including the ones below.
- The Kiribati Education Improvement Program ($35 million, 2011-2019) is making sure schools have raised floors and protective seawalls to reduce coastal flooding, that school facilities are built using sustainable materials, and that children have access to secure freshwater supplies.
- Australia supported the Kiribati Adaptation Project Phase 3 ($5.9 million, 2010-2018) to build seawalls and other shoreline protection systems around South Tarawa to help protect homes and businesses during storm surges.
- Through the Skills for Employment Program ($20 million, 2016-2020) Australia is supporting students at the Kiribati Institute of Technology to gain climate change skills – many are required to present their end-of-year project on innovative ways to cope and adapt to climate change in their island homes.
- Australia is supporting the Director of the Ministry of Finance's Climate Finance Division via the Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism. This has resulted in an increase in the Kiribati Government's ability to access international climate finance. Since recruiting the position, Kiribati has secured over US$150 million in support for priority climate change projects.
Regional and global programs
Australia's regional programs are changing the way people manage the impacts of climate change and disasters. Under the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, Australia's aid program is supporting Pacific island governments to build resilience and shift to low-carbon development by investing in climate-and-disaster-informed education, health, infrastructure, energy, and food and water security.
The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) works with National Meteorological Services in the North Pacific to provide seasonal forecasts that help farmers plan for harvesting, and weather warnings to alert people about disasters.
The Pacific Resilience and Governance Program ($10 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation to ensure they are building resilience into government initiatives across a range of sectors.