‘Sinking’ Kiribati looks to Fiji to escape climate change threat
The coral atolls of Kiribati in the Pacific are under threat of submersion by rising sea levels, forcing the nation to consider relocation.
Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, is in talks to buy approximately 6,000 acres of land in Fiji. The submerging archipelago nation is looking at both Fiji’s main island Viti Levu and the northern Vanua Levu island, 2,000km (1,300 miles) away from Kiribati.
He told the Associated Press on Friday that Vanua Levu island will be able to house the entire population of 103,000, but hopes it wouldn’t come to that.
“We would hope not to put everyone on one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” the President said. “It wouldn’t be for me, personally, but would apply more to a younger generation. For them, moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.”
The plan is to move people gradually, with the more skilled going first to establish roots. “They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer,” Tong told TV Channel Fiji One.
Last year, a state of emergency was declared when rising sea levels contaminated Kiribati’s underground fresh water that sustains the population and plant life.
A few of the 32 atolls, strewn over the equator, have already lost land mass, displacing residents and destroying their crops.
The fertile plains of Vanua Levu island are perfect for farming, which will allow the Kiribati people to cultivate and send produces back home.
Fiji is just one of many countries considered for relocation.