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Atoll Coalition calls for Immediate and Urgent Actions Now

CANCC Group Photo - Participants & Observers

Bairiki, Tarawa, 17 July, 2014—The Coalition of Atoll Nations on Climate Change (CANCC) meeting hosted by Kiribati concluded last Friday at the Marine Training Centre’s conference room with a signed Outcome Document calling for immediate and urgent actions now.

Chaired by Head of State and President Anote Tong, the meeting concluded with an outcome document underscoring two important points that calls for immediate and urgent action now – that the atoll nations are on the ‘frontline’ and that they are an ‘early warning system’ in the face of climate change.

As outlined in the Outcome Document, which was signed by President Anote Tong, the Tuvalu Governor General, Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli and Special Envoy of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Amatlain Kabua, – “the CANCC expressed grave concerns that global action on climate change is far too slow and urge that global momentum must match the rate at which these impacts are being felt on the ground by their people.”

Kiribati, Tuvalu, RMI - Group Photo

In his opening remarks at the inaugural opening of the CANCC meeting, President Tong said that as full participating citizens of the world, it is time that we no longer stand on the side-line, but to take action to shape our future and our destiny.

“Our voice should count and our stories should be told, and the world should listen and take action. For we are the trial, we are the ‘early warning system’ to what the world will face when sea level rise continues unheeded.” President Tong said.

He added that as atoll nations, it is their responsibility to remind all that they will be the next frontline when they have gone below water.

The call for immediate and urgent actions translates into immediate resourcing of options aimed at building resilience through support of urgent priorities to ensure that atoll nations remain viable sovereign nations.

The urgent priorities are Protecting and supplementing our water resource; Protection of our coastline; Climate-proof infrastructure and sustainable development initiatives; Building up our islands to heights above the predicted sea level rise and; Strengthening our people through education, workforce skills, communication and public awareness.

However, in an interview with the ABC’s Pacific Beat, President Tong said the world’s atoll nations are in desperate need of funds pledged by the international community to help them adapt to climate change.

“For us climate change is not an event in the future. It’s an event that we’re dealing with now. We’re not talking about reducing carbon emissions because we’re already beyond that stage. What we need is urgent action to address what we are facing at the moment.” President Tong said during the ABC Pacific Beat interview last Friday.

 

Tong added that they (atoll nations) will now lobby the international community to deliver on long-promised funding to help mitigate the effects of rising sea levels at the upcoming UN Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) summit and the UN Climate Change Summit both in September in the lead up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Paris in 2015.

Public consultation gets underway on the Amendment to the Penal Code Bill advocating the Death Penalty

Bairiki, Tarawa, 23 October, 2014—Public consultation for the Amendment to the Penal Code Bill advocating the Death Penalty got underway last week ahead of the bill’s second stage reading at December’s Parliament sitting.

The public consultation will reach out to communities seeking their views on the appropriateness of enacting such a law that will empower the High Court to apply the death penalty in sentencing convicted murderers if the bill passes the second stage reading.

After the successful first reading of the bill in last Parliament, President Anote Tong has, earlier this month, erected a Commission of Inquiry consisting of civil society leaders to spearhead this public consultation.

“The President has appointed Bishop Paul Mea as Chairperson (and who is being deputized by Father Koru Tito while Bishop Paul Mea is on overseas duty) and Moderator Reirei Kourabi, Mrs. Meere Riwata and Mr. Aeroman Taratiera as commissioners.“ Office of the President Secretary Bwakura Metutera-Timeon said adding that the public consultation had gone underway last week with consultations at communities in the capital of South Tarawa including Betio.

Secretary Metutera-Timeon added that this week the Commission is now conducting public consultations in the islands of Tabiteuea Meang and Abemama respectively.

The Commission will next visit Butaritari and Kiritimati Island before compiling a report with recommendations that will be presented to government ahead of the second stage reading of the bill in December’s parliament sitting.

Speech by His Excellency President Anote Tong during the Opening of the Expansion of Betio Port

Your Excellency, Ambassador Takuji Hanatani, and members of your delegation,
Government Dignitaries,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Chairman, General Manager and members of KPA Board of Directors,
Representatives from Dai Nippon –Toa Joint Venture,
Representatives from ECHO Consultant,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kam Na Bane Ni Mauri!

This is indeed a significant milestone. Sea Ports symbolize linkages within a nation and to the outside world. Sea Ports also represent a nation’s level of economic development – with the fastest growing economies having the busiest ports in the whole wide world. Kiribati with the assistance of Japan is indeed moving forward in its quest to raise the level of economic development.

The completion of the Betio Port Expansion Project brings the Betio Port to a new level. Previously barges were used as a means to transport container loads from vessels to the port. A process that often entails ships remaining in our ports for more than 1 day, at times more than 3 days particularly in rough weathers. As you will all agree with me, shipping companies run on a tight schedule as time is money – so the cost of vessels remaining in port is ultimately being borne by our consumers, our people.

Now with the completion of this new Jetty, the process is now four times faster allowing for a faster turnaround time for vessels. Now it is possible for a vessel to arrive in the morning and depart before sunset on the same day.
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Equally important, barges present risks and safety concerns. I remember when a barge overturned during rough weather – luckily no-one was harmed, however, there was quite a concern for potential shortage of beer as some of the containers were full of beer. Now, with barges being made redundant the overall safety of the operations should indeed improve.

Not only that, the Government of Japan also donated Port Cargo Handling Equipment such as the 30-tonne forklift, 2 Prime movers, 2 20-foot Trailers, 1 40-foot trailer and the installation of navigation aids like buoys, beacons and lighting poles to equip the new port. Equipment necessary to properly resource the port and to raise its standard further.
Wharf_vslider Distinguished guests, I think we can safely say that Kiribati is on its way to relinquishing the title of being the slowest port in the region. I encourage KPA to aim for the title of the most efficient and effective port in the region – not only that, but let us dream further and make Betio Port the hub for this part of the region.

I have been made to understand that the expansion was expected to be completed by October of this year. The completion of the project ahead of schedule is a credit to Dai Nippon Construction-TOA Joint Venture along with ECHO Consultant. It shows that where there is a will, milestone achievements are indeed possible.

Whilst this project has reached completion stage, let us not forget that during its implementation, it brought economic benefits through the employment of our people, through increased consumer spending, just to name a few. And the economic benefits will continue with the reduction in the shipping costs and the potential for increased frequency of vessels calling into Betio Port. Equally important is the exchange of knowledge and technology – through the construction phase and continuing through the operation of the port.
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On behalf of the Government and the people of Kiribati, I applaud and congratulate Dai Nippon Construction – TOA Joint Venture and ECHO Consultant for a job well-done. It is indeed a day to be proud of, for all of you who have contributed to the completion of this project.

Mr. Ambassador, I extend through you the gratitude and appreciation of the Government and the people of Kiribati, to the Government of Japan for its continued support and assistance in our development aspirations. Without the Government of Japan’s support this project and others before this, would not have been possible. It has indeed been a very mutually beneficial partnership and one that I am very confident will endure the passage of time. I am indeed very honored and very proud to bear witness to the official opening of the Betio Port Expansion.

With these few words, allow me to share with you all, Kiribati’s blessings of Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa.
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Japan’s Ambassador presents Credentials to President of Kiribati

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His Excellency President Anote Tong received Monday 30 June, the Letters of Credence from the newly accredited Japanese Ambassador to Kiribati, His Excellency Mr. Takuji Hanatani.

Mr. Hanatani succeeds former Japanese Ambassador to Kiribati, Mr. Eiichi Oshima who completed his term late last year. Based in Fiji, Hanatani is also accredited as Ambassador to Tuvalu, Nauru, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

After the Presentation of Credentials, President Tong and Ambassador Hanatani talked on the enduring and strong friendship between their two countries which has been enjoyed for over 23 years through cooperation on a number of areas of mutual interest.

While Japan is a major development partner of Kiribati – providing assistance in areas of health, education, infrastructure and fisheries to name but a few, Kiribati has over the years become Japan’s major ally in supporting their candidature and votes in international biddings mainly within the United Nations various councils and organizations.

Coinciding with Ambassador Hanatani’s visit to Kiribati was the historical Opening Ceremony of the newly completed extension of the Betio Wharf held Tuesday, 1 July 2014 – a AUD$39 million Japan-funded project.

Kiribati students graduate from Taiwan Institutions

A Special Report from the Kiribati Embassy in Taiwan

It is a success story for four students studying in various institutions in Taiwan after graduating from their respective programme of studies last month.

Kiribati’s Ambassador to the Republic of China (Taiwan), Her Excellency Teekoa Iuta said the four students sponsored by the Government of Taiwan have put their scholarships to great use and have demonstrated this by completing the requirements of their respective programme of studies.

“There are more than 30 students currently undertaking studies in Taiwan doing different programmes and in different institutions.” Ambassador Iuta said.

Iuta added that the Kiribati students are undertaking different programmes ranging from Undergraduate, Master’s and Doctorate studies.

Ambassador Iuta was Guest Speaker at one of the graduation ceremonies where she had the opportunity to thank the Taiwan government for providing an opportunity for the people of Kiribati to undertake academic studies.
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“I bring to you the gratitude of the people and the government of my country for providing the opportunity to build the capacity of our young people who I am confident will return and contribute to the nation-building of Kiribati.” Iuta remarked at the Tamkang University Graduation ceremony held last month.

The four students who have graduated are as follows:

  1. BinarakeTebamuri  –   Masters in Electrical Power Engineering (Sun Yat-sen University)
  2. Helen Murdoch      –    Masters in Nursing Science (National Taipei University of Nursing                                        & Health Sciences)
  3. Bernard Murdoch –     International MBA (Chung Yuan Christian University)
  4. TebaibureTiemti –       Bachelors Degree International Business (Tamkang Universty)

The intake for this year’s scholarship for studies in Taiwan increased to more than 10 students compared to previous years which were less than 10 students.

Successful applicants for this year’s scholarship intake will be announced by the Taiwan Embassy in Kiribati later this month upon which students are expected to commence studies in August.

Kiribati and Taiwan enjoy a diplomatic friendship that is just over a decade. Apart from its scholarship schemes offered through the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Taiwan International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF), Taiwan also assists Kiribati in areas of agriculture, aquaculture, health and economic and social development.

UNFPA Director and Representative presents credentials to Kiribati

The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Director and Representative for the Pacific Sub-regional Office based in Fiji, Dr. Laurent Zessler met with President Anote Tong on Monday to present his Letters of Credence.

As Director and Representative for the region, Dr. Zessler will be overseeing UNFPA’s focus in Kiribati which includes the repositioning of family planning, contributing to gender equality and reproductive rights, enhancing young people’s sexual and reproductive health and, improving data availability and analysis.

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An estimated budget of USD$1,753,971 is set for Kiribati to cover the period of 2013 to 2017 according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI).

Through its area of focus, UNFPA’s work in Kiribati is channeled through four outputs namely:

  1. Strengthening national capacity to deliver high-quality family planning and sexual reproductive health services, information, commodities and community-based interventions for family resource management;
  2. Strengthening national capacity of health-care providers to address gender-based violence through the provision of high-quality health services, including humanitarian settings;
  3. Strengthening  national capacity to deliver high-quality sexual and reproductive health service and information, including family planning and services to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections for young people;
  4. Strengthening national capacity for increased availability, analysis and utilization of data for informed decision-making and policy formulation on population dynamics, youth, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health, including family planning.

During the presentation of credentials, President Tong discussed with Dr. Zessler ways forward in fast-tracking and achieving Kiribati-UNFPA priority targets particularly in the area of population and reproductive health which are crucial areas in Kiribati’s social and economic development.

“During the bilateral meeting, President Tong and Dr. Zessler discussed a plan to have a UNFPA presence at the UN Joint Presence office in Kiribati in order to effectively and further enhance UNFPA’s work on the ground.” A report from MFAI added.

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.   It plays a unique role within the United Nations system to addressing population and development issues, with an emphasis on reproductive health and gender equality, within the context of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
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Kiribati to host Climate Change meeting with fellow Atoll Nations

Kiribati is set to host a climate change meeting next week with fellow atoll nations to consolidate their stance as frontline and most vulnerable states in the face of climate change. For these frontline nations, climate change is an issue of security and survival.

The four countries, the only four atoll nations in the whole wide world, namely Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu will be meeting under an affiliation known as the Coalition of Atoll Nations on Climate Change (CANCC).

President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong says that a united stance as atoll nations in the global arena will gain traction and re-direct international focus to the plight facing low-lying atoll states.

“Whilst the international community is still debating on the level of green-house gas emissions, the reality of the impact of climate change is being felt across the globe and more so for low-lying atoll nations.” President Tong said, adding that he has and will continue to advocate that the time to act is now before it is too late for nations similar to Kiribati.

The end of next year will see the Kyoto Protocol come to its end and whether a new agreement is achieved or not, practical and innovative solutions need to be put in motion to ensure the continued existence of nations like Kiribati.

President Tong also added that this coalition should also highlight to the world as a whole that atoll nations are and should be considered the ‘early warning system’ to climate change.

“With 70% of major cities built on coastal areas, should our atoll nations disappear, these cities will be the next on the frontline.” President Tong said.

The CANCC meeting in Tarawa will focus on three items of agenda which includes the ‘Consolidation of Atoll Nation’s Support to the Ongoing Negotiations on Climate Change Issues’, ‘Adaptation and Survivability Now’ and, ‘Adaptation and Survivability in a Worst Case Scenario’.

The three atoll nations invited by Kiribati have confirmed their participation with high-level delegates comprising of two Head of States. Other invitees from outside of Kiribati include Tokelau and the USA through its embassy in Fiji, though they have yet to confirm their participation.

Resident High Commissioners from Australia and New Zealand and, resident Ambassadors from Cuba and the Republic of China (Taiwan) have also been invited as Observers.

The CANCC meeting will run from 10 – 11 July with an Outcomes Document that will highlight the united stance of atoll nations and be utilized by these atoll nations as a platform to advocate their issues in the global arena one of which is the upcoming UN Climate Change Summit in September as well as the ongoing climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Kiribati participates in World Environment Day celebrations

A special report from the Kiribati Embassy in Taiwan

The Kiribati mission in Taiwan was amongst a crowd of diplomats, government dignitaries and environmental enthusiasts who gathered last week in Taipei to celebrate the 2014 World Environment Day.

Themed as “Raise our voice, not sea level rise” the 2014 World Environment Day acknowledges the plight of the small island developing states. For countries like Kiribati such a plight focuses on environmental issues and challenges such as climate change which ranges from pollution to disturbance of the natural equilibrium to name but a few.
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“For me, and my brothers and sisters from the Pacific countries I give thanks to the decision by the Republic of China (Taiwan) through its Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to work with the Pacific Island countries in honouring the 2014 World Environment Day.” Kiribati’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Her Excellency Teekoa Iuta said in her statement during the World Environment Day celebrations.

In her remarks, Ambassador Iuta said that Kiribati has continually voiced its concerns at regional and global climate change forums with their debates and arguments taking many forms.

“In the early years we voiced our anger and blamed the world for the dangers to our islands and threats to our lives. But over the years we realized we cannot achieve much if we do not take charge of our situation but leave it to others. Thus we collaborated together and implored on the justice and morality of mankind to work together to save our planet earth for it is our moral responsibility to do so for our children and our grandchildren.” Ambassador Iuta said.

Iuta added by elaborating on the actions taken by Kiribati to address the issue of climate change which includes re-planting of mangroves to protect the shoreline, establishment of a Parliamentary Climate Change Committee that will assist government in coordinating and implementing climate change and environment development plans, creating the Phoenix Islands Protected Area which is closed-off from fishing and other extractive activities to name but a few.
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“Taiwan has been a strong and committed friend in our endevour to combat challenges of climate change and I acknowledge the visible and invaluable assistance provided to Kiribati through agriculture and aquaculture projects offered by the Taiwan Technical Mission and also of the provision of solar lamps for our schoold children and rural communities among other assistances.” Iuta said.

Minister Wei from the Environment Protection Agency said very little is known about the environmental challenges faced by small island developing states, specifically the very serious and real threat of climate change to countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu and hopes that this year’s World Environment Day will be the beginning of more public awareness within the Taiwan public.

Kiribati and Taiwan established diplomatic relations in 2003 and has been advocating the full membership of Taiwan in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ever since.

Shipping services to improve with engagement of 6 Shipping Companies

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A container ship operating in the Pacific (Photo: www.spc.int)

Shipping services to Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu is expected to improve after the engagement of 6 shipping companies to service the four countries.

The move was made possible after the Central Pacific Shipping Commission (CPSC) was operationalized at the beginning of this year.

“In 2013, three shipping companies were awarded a license or an Entry Assurance Certificate (EAC) to service the four member countries,” According to a statement from the Ministry of Communications, Transport and Tourism Development (MCTTD).

“The three companies are Neptune Pacific PTE Ltd, The China Navigation PTE Ltd and the Pacific Direct Line International PLtd. The Pacific Direct Line currently services the Line and Phoenix Islands on a three-monthly frequency.” The statement said.

The MCTTD statement added that later, in March of this year, three more shipping companies were awared EACs namely NYK Bulk and Project Carrier Ltd, Kyowa Shipping Co., Ltd and Matson South Pacific Limited.

The six shipping companies above will service Kiribati and other CPSC member countries providing the following benefits to Kiribati:
1. Increased frequency of port calls to Kiribati potentially reducing the experience of cargo shortages.
2. Competitive and thus reduced freight rates leading to cheaper prices of imported goods
3. Shipping service to the Line and Phoenix Group to increase from a three monthly service to a monthly service

The Central Pacific Shipping Commission is an inter-governmental commission for joint cooperation, coordination and monitor of international shipping services in participating Governments.

The rationale of CPSC is to ensure sustained commercial shipping services for the common interest, needs and public welfare of the respective communities through controlled competition.

Additionally, due to the success of the CPSC, the establishment of an Eastern Pacific Shipping Commission (EPSC) is now under consideration and which Kiribati will also be a member country due to the eastern location of the Line and Phoenix islands.

Kiribati buys a piece of Fiji

Bairiki, Tarawa, 27 May, 2014—Kiribati has purchased a piece of land in Fiji in the nation’s bid to enhance its economic and social resilience to the effects of climate change.

Kiribati’s Head of State – President Anote Tong made the announcement last week confirming that government has made the final payment for the purchase of the AUD$9.3 million Natoavatu Estate located in Fiji’s second biggest island of Vanua Levu.

“I wish to officially announce that government has come to a final resolve and has made the full purchase of the piece of land in Fiji.” President Tong said in his address to the nation on national radio last Friday.

Tong added that government sent a team earlier this month, comprising of the Minister of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development and the Attorney General, to settle the purchase of the land with the Fiji authorities.

The team were assured the Certificate of Title for the Natoavatu Estate after all requirements were met and a transaction of the final payment of AUD$8.3 million was witnessed before the previous land owners – The Trustees for the Colony of Fiji of the Church of England and the Fiji authorities.

Tong said that the acquisition of the 5460-acre piece of land marks a new milestone in government’s development plans particularly in its endeavor to address its economic and food security issues as it is greatly impacted by climate change.

“I’m glad we’ve taken this milestone with Fiji and hope that developed countries can engage with frontline countries like us in this arena, as a matter of taking simple actions rather than negotiating climate change issues where common ground is far from reach.” President Tong added.

Earlier this year, President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau met with his Kiribati counterpart on Kiribati shores where he assured “that the people of Kiribati will have a home if their country is submerged by the rising sea level as a result of climate change.

The Fiji President made the announcement confirming the suggestion made earlier by Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, that Fiji would assist Kiribati in any way it could.

The land purchase of the Natoavatu Estate is an investment by the government to explore options of commercial, industrial and agricultural undertakings such as fish canning, beef/poultry farming, fruit/vegetable farming to name but a few.