Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Escaping a rising tide: sea level rise and migration in Kiribati


The inundation of an entire nation due to anthropogenic climate change has never been seen. And the low-lying Pacific nation of Kiribati is likely to be among the first victims of such a disaster. As such, this article examines a number of strategies for the relocation of Kiribati, and finds that bilateral migration deals with Australia and New Zealand present the best policy option. First, bilateral agreements can be designed to allow for pre-emptive and planned migration. Second, as relatively large countries with low population densities, Australia and New Zealand are in the best place to absorb large numbers of migrants. Third, with a history of migration, and support for the Pacific islands combating climate change, there is scope for bilateral deals to be politically supportable. Fourth, as the wealthiest countries in the region, and with developed capacities in refugee resettlement, these governments are most able to implement a migration deal. Of course, the challenge of climate change migration is larger than Kiribati. Some estimates suggest that more than 200 million people may be displaced by climate change by 2050. When this is taken into account, getting policy right in Kiribati takes on added importance, as the way the international community handles this challenge is likely to set a global precedence.


Back to Top

Press Ctrl+C to copy