Protecting Kiribati against climate change
Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced Australia would provide $15 million to rehabilitate 40 kilometres of main road in South Tarawa, Kiribati, which has been undermined by rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Speaking from Kiribati, Senator Carr said the works were essential if the nation was to survive the impact of climate change.
"Kiribati is at the front line of climate change," Senator Carr said.
"Its highest point is now just three metres above sea level.
"Unless action is taken, Kiribati will be uninhabitable by 2030 as a result of coastal erosion, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into drinking water.
"This project will provide more than 40 per cent of the population with better access to health clinics, schools and markets.
"Coastal roads will be rehabilitated to withstand rising sea levels and storm surges caused by climate change.
"We'll also support the Kiribati Adaptation Program to replace 11 kilometres of damaged water mains and increase access to safe drinking water.
"I'm proud we can assist in rebuilding local roads and protecting basic Kiribati infrastructure from the devastating effects of human-induced climate change."
Australia's funding would be delivered over three years (2013-2015) in partnership with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Senator Carr will also join Kiribati President Anote Tong later today (February 11) in presenting a statement to the UN Security Council on the need for climate change action to reduce the risk of future conflicts over scarce resources. The message will be recorded in the remains of a Kiribati village left uninhabitable by rising seas.
Media enquiries: Minister's Office (02) 6277 7500; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison (02) 6261 1555; AusAID Media 0417 680 590