You can count the inhabitants of this isolated, tidy village of multi-coloured houses and flower bushes among global warming’s first victims – but not in the usual sense.
After years of claiming untruthfully that the world’s most fished marine protected area was “off limits to fishing and other extractive uses,” President Anote Tong of the Pacific island state of Kiribati and his cabinet have voted to close it to all commercial fishing by the end of the year.
Threatened by rising seas, some of the world's small island developing states (SIDS) are demanding that the U.N.'s new set of Sustainable Development Goals place a high priority on the protection of oceans and marine resources.
Scientists say dredging, building causeways and natural climate variations are largely responsible for the flooding events that many officials here point to as evidence that climate change-induced sea-level rise is shrinking and destroying their tropical Pacific island.
Governments in the Western Pacific Islands, believed to be home to a third of the world’s smokers, have begun a long battle with the growing crisis of non-communicable diseases. Such diseases currently account for 75 percent of the region’s fatalities.
A growing chorus of politicians, scientists and environmentalists are urging President Anote Tong of Kiribati to actually do what he claims was already done in 2008: create the world's most effective marine protected area in a remote archipelago in the Central Pacific Ocean.
The immense scale of the Pacific Ocean, at 165 million square kilometres, inspires awe and fascination, but for those who inhabit the 22 Pacific island countries and territories, it is the very source of life. Without it, livelihoods and economies would collapse, hunger and ill-health would become endemic and human survival would be threatened.
When Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Kiribati in 2011, he had "an unexpected insight" into the fear that stalks the Pacific Island nation.