Kiribati, an atoll in the South Pacific, is one of the world’s most economically and physically vulnerable countries. Home to more than 110,000 people, Kiribati is made up of 33 low-lying coral atolls which, at their highest elevation, average six feet above sea level. During the next eight decades, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) projects a three-foot increase in global sea levels. Kiribati’s surrounding sea levels, in comparison, are predicted to rise by up to 0.6 feet by 2030.
Of its 110,000 inhabitants, half live on the crowded capital island of Tarawa, which is increasingly impacted by sea level rise and the frequency of storm surge inundation. Teaming with the New Zealand Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Government of Kiribati, Jacobs led the feasibility study and conceptual plan, including coastal engineering, urban and landscape design and environmental and social impact assessment to explore the option of increasing the height of a 300-hectare area of land to approximately two meters above the highest measured sea level.
low-lying coral atolls across 3.5 million km2 of ocean make up the island nation of Kiribati
people will enjoy this new, resilient urban development
“Tarawa’s population is rapidly growing due to migration from the outer islands, placing pressures on natural resources, infrastructure and essential services. What we’re doing on this project – reclaiming 300 hectares, or the equivalent of about 300 American football fields, of swampy inhabitable land and transforming it into an urban development resilient to predicted 2200 ocean levels – is the first large scale climate change adaption development of its kind for small island nations and a potential resilience trend for other low-lying locations.”
Reclaiming a resilient future
Kiribati, an island republic in the Central Pacific, consists of 33 low lying coral atolls across 3.5 million km2 of ocean. Its population is rapidly growing due to migration from the outer islands, placing pressures on natural resources, infrastructure and essential services.
Our investigations comprised coastal engineering, urban and landscape design and environmental and social impact assessment. The team worked closely with the Government of Kiribati and through an integrated and consultative investigation and design process delivered a holistic solution focused on triple- bottom-line sustainability.
The project included development of a conceptual land use plan to address resilience issues impacting the atoll, including rapid urbanization, limited water supply, ecosystem services and an increasing risk of land inundation from king tides.
Temaiku is the first large scale climate change adaption development of its kind for small island nations, the success of which was recognized when the President of Kiribati presented the Project at the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, COP23 in Bonn, Germany.
Award winning excellence
This project tackles one of the biggest challenges facing low-lying Pacific island today and provides a roadmap for a more sustainable and resilient future. The project continues to be recognized by numerous regional and global awards programs:
- 2019 – Winner in the Climate Resilience & Adaptation category at the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) Sustainability Impact Awards 2019.
- 2019 – Merit Award at the Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) Innovate Awards 2019.
- 2018 – Award of Excellence in the International category at the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) National Landscape Architecture Awards 2018.
- 2018 – Merit Award in the Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience category at the Climate Change Business Journal Business Achievement Awards 2018.
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