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Kiribati - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific

At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Kiribati to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.

Climate change and disaster impacts in Kiribati

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 two metres above sea level. The impacts of climate change on Kiribati’s freshwater supplies, coastal infrastructure, agricultural land, reefs and fisheries are projected to increase over time, particularly in South Tarawa.

  • Many homes in South Tarawa already experience regular flooding during king tides and storm surges. Australia has helped to increase shoreline protection in South Tarawa to reduce the impacts of sea level rise and storm surges.
  • Kiribati is already experiencing more days with extreme rainfall. Run-off from heavy rain often contaminates fresh water sources and increases the likelihood of children developing life-threatening diarrhoea. Australia is working with the Government of Kiribati to ensure that schools and communities are climate resilient and have access to safe water and sanitation services.
  • Kiribati will need to implement priority adaptation actions, like protecting coastal zones and safeguarding water supplies. Building capacity in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is important in order to access and effectively utilise global climate finance.

Bilateral programs

Australia has provided approximately $17.5 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Kiribati since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the infrastructure, education and governance sectors.

  • The Kiribati Education Improvement Program ($9.8 million 2016-20 in climate and disaster finance of $96 million 2010-22 project total) is ensuring schools have raised floors and protective seawalls to reduce coastal flooding, that school facilities are built using sustainable materials with integrated water and energy systems, and that children learn about climate change at school.
  • The Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM) is supporting the Director of the Ministry of Finance's Climate Finance Division to increase Kiribati’s access to international climate finance. Through this support, Kiribati has secured over USD150 million in support for priority climate change projects.
  • The Kiribati Adaptation Project Phase 3 ($5.9 million, 2010-2018) built seawalls and other shoreline protection systems around South Tarawa to help protect roads, homes and businesses during storm surges and sea flooding.

Regional and global programs

A range of regional and global climate change investments are working directly to build climate and disaster resilience in Kiribati, including:

  • The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac $23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Kiribati Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countries to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
  • The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development in Kiribati Program ($9.9 million over 10 years, 2012–2022) is supporting Kiribati’s first crisis centre to ensure the building is designed to manage climate change and disaster risks, and to increase community resilience.
  • The Australia Assists program has supported Kiribati to formulate and develop the 2019 Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Act. The Act will help communities to reduce, adapt to, prepare for, respond to and recover from the impacts of disasters and climate changes. It provides for effective and coordinated actions around disaster risk management and climate change.
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