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Kiribati : Country Review
Kiribati won independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Like other Pacific island countries, Kiribati is far from major markets, has few natural resources and a narrow economic base. Production and exports are limited to copra, fish and seaweed, and the economy is vulnerable to fluctuations in world commodity demand and prices.
Once known as the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati is made up of 33 coral atolls and sits amidst two million square miles of Pacific Ocean. With its highest point only six feet above sea level, Kiribati has been particularly vulnerable to the rise of sea level as a result of global climate change.
In Kiribati, ecological concerns and the climate crisis have also been dominant themes with life and death consequences for the people of Kiribati . Indeed, their very livelihoods of fishing and subsistence farming remain at risk as a result of ecological and environmental changes. Yet even so, Kiribati is threatened by increasingly high storm surges, which could wipe out entire villages and contaminate water supplies. Accordingly, Kiribati's very existence is thus at severe risk of being obliterated from the map.
Not surprisingly, policies in Kiribati have centered on emergency planning for worst case scenarios in this vulnerable country. Yet with the existential threat of being wiped off the map in the offing, Kiribati's government has concluded that the people will have to choice but to leave the islands and it has called on the international community to assist in this regard. This call has come after years of attempting to draw international attention to the plight of global climate change and its dire consequences for small island states.
Note: The case of Kiribati illuminates the emerging global challenge of environmental refugees
Editor's Note on Environment:
Like so many small island nations in the world, Kiribati is vulnerable to the threats posed by global warming and cimate change, derived from carbon emissions, and resulting in the rise in sea level. Political policy in the country is often connected to ecological issues, which have over time morphed into an existential crisis of sorts.
Indeed, in most small island countries not just in the Pacific, but also the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, ecological concerns and the climate crisis have been dominant themes with dire life and death consequences looming in the background for their people. Small island nations in these region are already at risk from the rise of sea-level, tropical cyclones, floods. But their very livelihoods of fishing and subsistence farming were also at risk as a result of ecological and environmental changes. Increasingly high storm surges can wipe out entire villages and contaminate water supplies. Accordingly, the very existence of island are at severe risk of being obliterated from the map. Yet even with the existential threat of being wiped off the map in the offing, the international community has been either slow or restrictive in its efforts to deal with global warming, climate change, economic and ecological damage, as well as the emerging global challenge of environmental refugees.
A 2012 report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Pacific Regional Environment Program underlined the concerns of small island nations and their people as it concluded that the livelihoods of approximately 10 million people in Pacific island communities were increasingly vulnerable to climate change. In fact, low-lying islands in that region would likely confront losses of up to 18 percent of gross domestic product due to climate change, according to the report. The report covers 21 countries and territories, including Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga, and recommended environmental legislation intended to deal with the climate crisis facing the small island countries particularly. As noted by David Sheppard, the director general of the Pacific Regional Environment Program that co-sponsored this study: “The findings... emphasize the need more than ever to raise the bar through collective actions that address the region's environmental needs at all levels."
|Real Gross Domestic Product (LCU billions 2005 base)||0.168373||0.165916||0.172294||0.185228||0.189561|
|Real GDP Growth Rate (%)||2.554388||-1.459189||3.844005||7.506910||2.339264|
|Population, total (million)||0.109000||0.110000||0.112000||0.115000||0.117000|
|Inflation, GDP Deflator (%)||3.831495||4.782296||0.748086||2.199780||2.500207|
|Official Exchange Rate (LCU/$US)||1.159678||1.276277||1.281535||1.317204||1.311224|
|Total Foreign Exchange Reserves ($US billions)||0.031019||0.025974||0.026785||0.033793||0.035096|
Average Daily Temperature
|Annual Rainfall :||59.5"|
|Roman Catholic||53.00 %|