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Implications of Climate Change for the Livelihoods of Urban Dwellers in Kiribati

As a result of climate change, coastal erosion, sea water intrusion into the fresh water lenses, destruction of trees that are important sources of food, medicines and building materials, and the destruction of settlements due to higher king tides and storm surges, accompanying higher mean sea levels, are threatening the sustainable survival of human societies on the atoll islands of Kiribati. Climate change is also having detrimental effects on important cultural heritage including customary practices, traditional knowledge and native languages. The people have continued to live with the physical changes to the landscape, vegetation and water supply, despite significant deterioration in the quality of the water, and the loss of important traditional plants and trees that are used for ornamental, constructional, and medicinal purposes. The Kiribati government, along with governments of other countries comprising low-lying atolls and reef islands, has placed considerable emphasis on strategies to manage problems caused by climate change, especially the prospect of higher sea levels. Population and urban development pressures have further compounded existing problems associated with climate change. Land shortage and increasing population on South Tarawa have made the climate change issue more critical. This thesis examines the contemporary environmental issues linked with climate change and its impacts on the livelihoods of urban dwellers of Kiribati. The focus is on the country’s two main urban areas: South Tarawa in the Gilbert group and Kiritimati in the Line group. The study assesses the dependence of urban dwellers on their urban environment as well as examining their increasing vulnerability to climate change. The study concludes that there is a need for further consultation and discussion between the government of Kiribati, non-government organizations, private institutions, church institutions and the local people, as well as with interested overseas development partners and major financial donors, to plan strategies not only to provide for better living conditions for the current population but, more importantly, to ensure the islands are able to sustainably support the existence of the people now and in years to come.
Type of thesis
Corcoran, J. (2016). Implications of Climate Change for the Livelihoods of Urban Dwellers in Kiribati (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10442
University of Waikato
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