Kiribati’s Entire Population is Being Moved to Fiji

The first mass exodus related to climate change is happening in Kiribati, a group of islands located in the central tropical Pacific Ocean. The archipelago consists of 32 islands and it plans to move the entire population to Fiji in order to avoid rising sea levels.

According to their President, Anote Tong:

“This is the last resort, there is no way out of this one. Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages. We don’t want 100,000 people from Kiribati coming to Fiji in one go. They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer, people who have a place in the community, people who will not be seen as second-class citizens. What we need is the international community to come up with an urgent funding package to deal with that ambition, and the need of countries like Kiribati.”

Currently Kiribati is buying 5,000 acres of land on the second-largest island in Fiji, Vanau Levu. The situation is dire because in 1999, three of the uninhabited atolls in the nation went underwater. If sea levels continue to rise at projected levels, it is estimated that by 2100, the entire nation might be submerged.

Incidents such as these call to attention the very real threat of climate change and rising sea levels. Earlier this year, former Maldivian president, Mohammed Nasheed, said he was considering the very real possibility of moving his entire nation to Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that: “The country has established a sovereign wealth fund, drawn from its tourist revenue, to be used to buy land overseas and finance the relocation of the country’s population of 350,000.”

There are several examples of climate refugees. For example, the Caterat Islanders of Papua New Guinea are the world’s first entire community to be displaced by climate change. The island is predicted to be completely underwater by 2015. The entire community is comprised of 2000 people, but their final journey represents a loss of their home and way of life.

Bill Clinton stressed the need for better immigration laws last year to deal with climate refugees, because the world is going to see higher numbers of them in the coming days. The situation comes with unique human rights, economic and social challenges that will have to be dealt with.

Apart from many island nations, areas of ecological importance like the Sundarbans are also threatened. Not only is this sensitive area home to many people, it also supports the largest mangrove forest in the world and is one of the important habitats of the Bengal Tiger. Most governments do not have plans for climate refugees who have been displaced by changing sea levels, but it is about time they started.

 Image Credit: Map showing the islands of Kiribati, CC BY-SA 3.0Wikipedia

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also

9 responses

  1. “Overcrowding has been a problem. In 1988 it was announced that 4,700 residents of
    the main island group would be resettled onto less-populated islands”.

    They need condoms not rubber dinghys.

    1. For your information, Kiribati has various atolls, many of which are still inhabited and can still accommodate a space for a small population of just 100,000 people. In fact, it has the largest coral atoll in the world – Kiritimati Island, but the real threat is climate change and it’s effects onto these low lying atolls. If Kiribati have had an over crowding issue it would be like the ROC with the one child policy, but the underlying issue is climate change and its effects to small low lying atolls such as Kiribati. Centralization is an issue also, as the government, schools and university are located on one single island which has drift rural population for urbanization. This has impact the overall population density but still the threat is climate change – rising sea level. Kiribati has an highest point of just 4 meters above sea level and that put it at the front line for rising sea level. 

  2. ahahah overcrowding is not a problem in my country kiribati but…..the main problem that we really afraid of… sea level rising. Alot of people in Tarawa lost their homes because of sea level rising.This is not funny…we maybe lost our homes in future because of the greedy of big countrys.Their Genius behavior may cause big problem to earth.

  3. Small islands like Bikemaan cant be seen nowadays.Alot of small islands like Bikemaan are underwater right now but I cant remember names.So if you want to believe me…go their and take a look.

  4.  Hi,

    Those who are very sceptic on the issue of climate change this is the message I copied pasted from the Kiribati government.

    Greetings from Kiribati! regarding Kiribati’s plan to purchase land from Fiji.
    While several media organizations have wrongly interpreted President’s
    Tong’s comments re the purchase of land, the press release hopes to
    clear all inconsistencies. For your information and respective broadcasting/publications.

    Ph: (+686) 21183 Fax: (+686) 21902 Alternate email: web:


  5. I would love to live in the fijis but I guess thet’s out,being it’s going to be over crowded by other islanders.

  6. The problem with mostislands is no drinking water. Maybe they don;t have a desalinization plant.

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