Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The President of Kiribati doesn’t want his people to be seen as climate charity cases – instead he wants investment, new tourist resorts to give his people jobs and economic opportunities, to help pay for reclaiming land from the sea like Singapore.
As climate change threatens islands, Kiribati’s president plans development
The low-lying Pacific island nation of climate change and rising sea levels. Scientists say the islands could be uninhabitable within decades, and in recent years, some leaders there have begun planning for a worst-case scenario that could involve relocating the population to other countries.is one of the parts of the world most threatened by
However, in a video presentation to the international, Germany, last week, the president of Kiribati appeared to be turning away from such a plan.
“Climate change is indeed a serious problem,” President H.E Taneti Maamau said in the video.”But we don’t believe that Kiribati will sink like the Titanic ship. Our country, our beautiful lands, are created by the hands of God.”
Later in the video, far from discussing abandoning the islands, a narrator instead proclaims the goal of promoting tourism by attracting foreign investors to develop “5-star eco-friendly resorts that would promote world-class diving, fishing and surfing experiences” on currently uninhabited islands.
Government officials say they are working on a plan to raise the level of a large area of currently uninhabitable land to make it habitable.
I can’t find a link to the video – please post in comments if you find it.
I’m really starting to like President Anote Tong. He plays the game to an extent, happy to host and be seen with globe trotting eco-celebrities, but he has a charming habit of going off script when it comes to climate change.
Anote Tong simply refuses liberal attempts to herd his people onto their allotted lefty intellectual reservation, to play the part of victims of Western greed helplessly waiting for the West to decide their fate.
Anote Tong’s response when asked why Kiribati residents weren’t flocking to New Zealand, why New Zealand was struggling to fill a 75 position annual citizenship lottery;
But there hasn’t been a dramatic exodus just yet. The New Zealand immigration department sets aside 75 places a year in a lottery for migrants from Kiribati, and at the moment it can’t fill them.
President Anote Tong suggests that is because things aren’t desperate enough yet.
“It’s not a critical issue yet. I think if there are people who migrate now, I hope they would do it out of choice. But as to the question, is it so critical that people would be regarded as refugees? My answer would be no, not at this point in time.”
Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34674374
I have no idea what kind of leader Anote Tong is at home, but at least in terms of his appearance on the world stage, my impression is Kiribati could have done a lot worse.