The flurry of news reports in the world’s media saying Kiribati was looking at buying an island in Fiji with a view to relocate its population, which is threatened by sea level rise has prompted a clarification from the atoll nation’s president.
Saying that Kiribati was looking at acquiring land in Fiji primarily for investment because sea level rise was threatening any sustainable economic activity, he sought to take the focus off the mass relocation issue.
“Relocation is our last resort, but our priority is to serve the needs of our people today and steer the country to the path of sustainable economic development,” President Anote Tong said in a statement issued from his office in Tarawa.
The land purchase was a bid to enhance the country’s economic and social resilience, the statement said. Saying climate change was hindering sustainable development, Mr Tong acknowledged Fiji’s willingness to help in this regard and urged other countries to do likewise.
“We hope that developed nations can engage with frontline countries like us in this area, as a matter of taking simple actions rather than negotiating climate change issues where common ground is far from reach,” he said in the statement.
Just as it was considering acquiring land in Fiji, Kiribati was also looking at other lands in the Pacific Islands region, Mr Tong said.