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Building Resilience in Small Island Economies:
from Vulnerabilities to Opportunities
Hotel Victoria, Pointe aux Piments
Mauritius; 23rd ~ 24th April 2012
Mr Tarakabu Tofinga
Snr Land Planning Officer
Land Management Division
Ministry of Environment, Lands & Agriculture Dev.
Presentation Overview
Kiribati ~ A Brief Introduction
Kiribati ~ Environment & Development Context
Climate Change & Kiribati
Land Planning & Climate Change
Strengthening Resilience through Sustainable
Land Planning
• Land Planning, Sustainability & Food Security
– Agricultural Land Uses & Practices
– Agricultural Activities at Urban & Rural Settings
• Summary & Conclusion
Kiribati ~ A Brief Introduction
• The Republic of Kiribati (Kiribati) is an island
nation lies astride the equator in the mid Pacific
• Consists of 33 low-lying coral atoll islands (total
land area of 800 sq. km) spread across an
oceanic EEZ of 3.5 million square kilometers
• Part of former British colony (Gilbert & Ellice
Islands) gained independence in 1979
• Population of 103,000 (2010 pop. Census)
• 50,402 (48%) lives in S.Tarawa – Capital &
Main Urban Centre of 684 hectare in area
Kiribati ~ Environment &
Development Context
• The islands have diverse marine environ for
food, transport, traditional practice & recreation
• The atoll terrestrial environment is more limited
but essential for water, food & shelter
• The people have relied on natural resources for
livelihood & enjoyed relative high standard of
living owing generally to favorable resources for
subsistence living
• Poverty, starvation & severe malnutrition are
generally non-existent with basic food & shelter
readily available for modest efforts
Environment & Dev. Context – cont’d
• Dominant transition from traditional subsistence
lifestyle to contemporary market-based
economy has posed key challenges
• Development performance has been poor with
‘stagnating & low economic growth rate’
– Low productivity of investments, inefficient public
enterprises, low return from resource exploitation &
public expenditure forms the bulk of all expenses
• Constraints to sustainable economic growth;
– Isolation & vulnerability, high reservation prices of
labor, land & capital, low standard of workforce
skills…etc. Land tenure is often an issue...
Climate Change
• C/Change is complicated by tremendous no. of
variables linked with climate and complex
interaction of atmosphere, ecosystems, ocean
& land forms.
• There’s always level of uncertainty associated
with C/Change predictions
• Often anticipated C/Change impacts on the
natural & built environments includes;
Droughts, flooding, thawing permafrost, storm surge,
sea-level rise, heat waves and other
• IPCC however states that impacts will mostly
manifest themselves in regional/land variables
Kiribati & Climate Change
• The fragile physical environment of Kiribati
makes it one of the most vulnerable to the
adverse impacts of C/Change
• The atolls rise 3-4 meters above mean sea
level & a few hundred meters wide
• Inundation, storm surge & erosion will destroy
land areas of the already small islands &
contaminates fresh groundwater lens vital for all
living organisms/farm land – Challenges!!!
• Addressing the predictable impacts dominate
the national environment and development
Kiribati & Climate Change
• Government has embarked in process of
mainstreaming C/Change adaptation & disaster
risk reduction in its development plan by
implementing series of initiatives such as:
– launch of the Kiribati Adaptation Program (KAP) in
2003 and ongoing phases
– Adoption of Climate Change Adaptation Policy
– Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (‘05)
– Consultation process and consequent adoption of a
National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA-’07)
– Adoption of a 10 years National Integrated
Environment Policy (NIEP: 2012 ~ 2022)
Land Planning & Climate Change
• Planning can play an important role in
influencing societal actions that can ‘mitigate’
effects that do occur & allow ‘adaptation’ to
• Planner’s role is significant as it deals with
basic issues as community design, land use
and development guidelines
• Planners can play a key role in enhancing
resilience through improved adaptive land uses,
efficient use of climate-sensitive resources ~
(water), promote sustainable land activities
Strengthening Resilience through
Sustainable Land Planning
• Regulate land uses through zoning considerate
of mitigate/adaptive measures
– Open/Green Space, Environmental Significance
Sites, Sanctuary, Protected Areas & Reserves
• Promote land uses that support sustainability
– Mixed/Compact Uses (commercial/residential/civic),
Agricultural/Farm Land Uses
• Encourage Green Development Standards
– Urban Land Development Guideline & Policies
(solar powers, gardening, natural lights/ventilations
& setbacks from hazard areas…etc.)
Land Use, Sustainability & Food
Security ~ Agricultural Land Uses &
• Agriculture is mainstay of most Pacific Is.
including Kiribati & subsistence farming
continues to be significant/efficient component
of subsistence living & income earning
• Designating land for agricultural initiatives is a
testimony to the efficiency of subsistence
production & improve opportunity for cash
earning in domestic & outside markets
• Agricultural land uses support local food
production & stimulate agro-market system
Land Use & Sustainable Agriculture
Dev. ~ Urban Setting
• High population density & competitive demand
for land thus promoting ‘Mixed Land Uses’
– Water Reserve + (Organic) Farming Area
– Urban Development Project & Temaiku Subdivision
• Well established farmers’ associations with
formal setups/nursery, products markets &
readily available land
– Eita Community Farmers Coop, KOFA, Eco-farm…
• Easy access to collaborative technical support
with favorable number of customers
– Agriculture Division & Taiwan Technical Mission
Land Use & Sustainable Agriculture
Dev. ~ Rural Setting
• Less population density = non competitive land
use thus easy access to agricultural land
• Informal setups vs. urban but higher yields
• ‘Growth Center Concept’ that will stimulate
more productive agricultural activities & market
system & also aims to decentralize urban
center & promote utilization of idle rural lands &
boost productivity
• Establishment of public services &
infrastructures + easier access to technical
• Land use planning offers significant C/Change
mitigation & adaptation opportunity
• Land planning has a significant role in the
attainment of sustainability through initiation of
land uses that are conductive to land
productivity especially one that considers food
security & economic development.
• Through commitment & well implemented plans
is realization of opportunities & attainment of
• Kiribati being a Least developed country (LDC)
& Small Island Developing State (SIDS) it’s
among countries most vulnerable to C/C
• Their special circumstances being LDCs make
them unable to meet costs of adaptation &
SIDS physical susceptibility to effects of C/C.
• Always welcome assistances (technical &
financial) from interested development partners
to effectively/efficiently formulate & implement
relevant programs
Reference & sources:
• Land Management Division, 2011, Urban Planning & Development Policy,
MELAD-Government of Kiribati, Kiribati
• Environment & Conservation Division, 2011, National Integrated
Environment Policy, Draft Report, MELAD-Government of Kiribati, Kiribati
• Asian Development Bank, 1995, Strategy for the Pacific; Policies & Program
for Sustainable Growth, Manila, Philippines.