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

Climate change and disaster impacts

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. 

Kiribati is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. 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 highly exposed to changes in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) index: during El Niño years, extreme rainfall runoff can contaminate freshwater sources; during La Niña years greatly reduced rainfall – such as during the 2022 State of Disaster due to severe drought – increases the salinity of scarce freshwater reservoirs making well water on outer islands brackish and further reducing the quantity of piped water in South Tarawa. Australia is working with the Government of Kiribati to increase the supply of drinking water, and 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 to access and effectively utilise global climate finance.
  • Climate change disproportionately impacts those already experiencing exclusion and marginalisation, including women, people with disabilities and people living in poverty. Australia is committed to supporting gender-responsive and inclusive approaches to climate and disaster risk resilience to result in better program outcomes.

Bilateral programs

Australia integrates climate and disaster resilience through its bilateral development assistance to Kiribati across all areas of programming including in the infrastructure, education, private sector development, governance and community sectors. 

  • Australia is investing in efforts to protect three coastlines in Kiribati as part of a $5.8 million climate security initiative. Australia is partnering with the United Nations Office for Project Services to deliver the Kiribati Australia Climate Security Initiative (KASCI) (June 2023-Dec 2026). KACSI will look to implement high quality, inclusive and nature based sustainable coastal protection solutions to improve the resilience of Kiribati to the impacts of climate change.
  • Through the Atoll Food Futures Project (AFF), Australia provided $600,000 for more comprehensive start-up climate smart technology packages for households and communities in Kiribati. Australia, in partnership with Live and Learn, supports a climate-smart agriculture technology project, which aims to improve food security and reduce over-reliance on imported food. Targeted households and communities are supported with island packages which include established nurseries, biofilta foodcubes, seeds, compost training, keyhole gardens and water tanks.
  • Through the Kiribati Education Improvement Program ($98 million, 2009-23) Australia 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. 
  • Supporting the development of a climate change awareness and knowledge e-learning module for the Kiribati Institute of Technology (KIT) in 2018, Australia’s support was facilitated through the Kiribati Facility ($49.8 million, 2016-26). The module supports students to understand how global climate change impacts national economies, local communities and individuals. 
  • Supporting the Director of the Ministry of Finance’s Climate Finance Division to increase Kiribati’s access to international climate finance through the Building Pacific Capacity Program (BPac). Through this support, Kiribati has secured over USD150 million in support for priority climate change projects. 
  • Australia has partnered with the Kiribati Meteorological Service ($2.51 million, 2023-25) to strengthen weather observation, forecast and warning cooperation in Kiribati. This arrangement includes support for new weather observing infrastructure, including automatic weather stations, aviation weather services training, peer-to-peer support between our respective weather institutions, and aviation meteorological technical assistance.

Regional programs  

A range of regional and globally funded investments are working directly to build climate and disaster resilience in Kiribati and across the region, including: 

  • The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 3 (COSPPac3) (Australian contribution $30 million, 2023-29) supports the Kiribati National 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 (tides, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping. 
  • Through Pacific Women Lead (PWL), Australia supports the Women’s Resilience to Disasters (WRD) program ($13.5 million, 2021-25), implemented by UN Women to support Kiribati to adopt gender-responsive decision-making and governance systems enabling targeted action for building the resilience of women and girls to current and future disasters and threats, including climate change and COVID-19. Through PWL, Australia also supports the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) to advance women’s leadership in climate change decision-making and negotiations ($699,900, 2022-24). 
  • The Australia Assists program ($94.7 million globally, 2017-24) is working with the Kiribati Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy (MISE), to ensure the people of Kiribati have sufficient access to reliable, safe and sustainable water supplies, energy and safe sanitation facilities and practices. 
  • The Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific (Gov4Res) Project (Australian contribution $7.9 million, 2019-23) supports national and local governments and communities, as well as regional organisations, to strengthen decision-making processes and governance systems towards risk- informed and resilient development. In Kiribati, Gov4Res is working with the Kiribati Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy (MISE) to support the integration of climate change, disaster and gender and social inclusion considerations into MISE’s Water Maintenance Programme.  
  • Supporting the Government of Kiribati in preparedness and response planning to drought, following the drought declaration in June 2022. Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, Australia has provided funding of over $2.8 million to procure large desalination plants and solar distillation units that support communities across Kiribati, as well as many other interventions through various partners.
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