Kiribati Residents Moving to Fiji because of Sea Level Rise

kiribati sea level rise

The effects of global warming have been known for a long time. We have been warned. Unfortunately, we have largely ignored the warnings. As a result, we are starting to see the effects around the world. The first effect mentioned on that post linked above is ‘sea level rise’. It’s a big one, and some countries are already being lost to it.

For example, Kiribati (an island in the central Pacific Ocean) is now in the process of planning a move of all of its inhabitants to Fiji. The island nation just sits a few feet above sea level, and those few feet are increasingly threatened by global inaction on global warming and climate change. Even before the island is swallowed by the ocean, seawater will (and is beginning to) contaminate fresh groundwater essential to life on the island.

Sister site Blue Living Ideas notes the work of photographer Ciril Jazbec, who went to Kiribati to see the effects of sea level rise first-hand… and photograph them. This photo below by Jazbec shows how rising sea levels kills trees and other necessary plants:

Not quite as pretty as the photo at the top.

Jazbec has a website titled Kiribati is Gone. The entrance to the site is pretty striking and I recommend checking it out. The website also includes many more photos worth a view.

Kiribati Preparing for Migration

“Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Associated Press on Friday that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu,” the Associated Press reports. “He said the fertile land, being sold by a church group for about $9.6 million, could be insurance for Kiribati’s entire population of 103,000, though he hopes it will never be necessary for everyone to leave.”

However, some of Kiribati’s residents have already moved — to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia — in anticipation of such a need.

It’s not only rising sea levels that are a concern for the residents there. Equal concerns are, perhaps, changing rainfall patterns, changing tidal patterns, and increasingly threatening storms. These are all effects of global warming and climate change that scientists have been warning us about for decades.

Sources: Blue Living Ideas & Washington Post
Images: top Kiribati image courtesy shutterstock; Kiribati is Gone

About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009.

Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity.

To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Anne Hicks


    Hello and thank you for this article. So-called environmentally induced migration is multi-level problem. According to Essam El-Hinnawi definition form 1985 environmental refugees as those people who have been forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption (natural or triggered by people) that jeopardised their existence and/or seriously affected the quality of their life. The fundamental distinction between `environmental migrants` and `environmental refugees` is a standpoint of contemporsry studies in EDPs.

    According to Bogumil Terminski it seems reasonable to distinguish the general category of environmental migrants from the more specific (subordinate to it) category of environmental refugees.

    Environmental migrants, therefore, are persons making a short-lived, cyclical, or longerterm change of residence, of a voluntary or forced character, due to specific environmental factors. Environmental refugees form a specific type of environmental migrant.

    Environmental refugees, therefore, are persons compelled to spontaneous, short-lived, cyclical, or longer-term changes of residence due to sudden or gradually worsening changes in environmental factors important to their living, which may be of either a short-term or an irreversible character.

    According to Norman Myers environmental refugees are “people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of drought, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation and other environmental problems, together with associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty”.