The Republic of Kiribati is recognized as a Least Developed Country (LDC) and is ranked 170th of 186 countries on per capita GDP. Comprising 33 atolls and reef islands, the country is dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, giving rise to logistical issues in a country with unreliable connections. Kiribati’s contribution to global warming is insignificant with emissions per capita (approximately 0.6tCO2e/capita in 2014) among the lowest in the world. The only major sector of emissions for Kiribati is energy (including transport), with slight contributions from agriculture and forestry.
The country is one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse impacts of climate change. Inundation and erosion are frequent impacts of climate change destroying key areas of land – storm surges and wave-overtopping contaminate the fresh groundwater lens which is vital for the population’s water security. An economic evaluation of the costs of climate change related risks has been estimated to be 35% of Kiribati GDP. The estimate takes into account only the potential impacts of climate change on coastal zone (US$7-$13 million a year) and water resources (US$1-$3 million a year).
In order to build island resilience to the adverse impacts and extreme events of climate change and in parallel with achieving the common development goals of Kiribati, the country relies mostly on external aid (donors) to finance its adaptation measures towards CC as the country is unable to meet the costs of adaptation on its own. Kiribati has received external assistance to formulate its Kiribati Joint Implementation Plan on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (KJIP) (2014) (comparable to NAPA required under UNFCCC) which defines priority adaptation measures to address current and ongoing risks from climate change. Similarly, the Kiribati Adaptation Project III (KAP), initiated by the World Bank, is currently on-going. The need for Kiribati to build national capacity to facilitate direct access to climate change adaptation financing is a high priority in the immediate future.