Kiribati National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA)

Project Overview

National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) provide a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their immediate needs to adapt to climate change, ultimately leading to the implementation of projects aimed at reducing the economic and social costs of climate change.

Project Details

Kiribati is situated in the Central Pacific Ocean and consists of 33 atolls with a total land area of about 800 sq km. The atolls have a maximum height of 3 to 4 m above mean sea level and support an estimated population of about 95,000 people.  Most people live a subsistence lifestyle, as the country is amongst the poorest and least developed countries in the world - having only a few natural resources, the main industries are tourism and the exports of Copra and fish.  The combination of its geographic location and economic situation makes Kiribati one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Global temperature increase affects coral growth and sea level. It is known that the heat content of the oceans has increased, and this could mean increase in internal energy (turbidity enhancement) of the oceans and/or increase in sea level. In Kiribati, coastal erosion, sea water from storm surges inundating the land, extensive sea spray, and coral bleaching are being observed and is consistent with current climate change predictions. These changes are adversely affecting the people’s livelihood. Climate change through its impacts of sea level rise leading to coastal erosion, and more frequent and damaging storm surges bounding on the edges of the land will reduce agricultural productivity such as of pandanus varieties, and coconut.

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved capacity building and project identification, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Kiribati
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Financing Amount: 
Co-Financing Total: 

Key Results and Outputs

Adaptation Needs and Priorities

The Kiribati Government’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change released in 1999 describes the vulnerabilities of the country, with a focus on the potential adverse impacts of sea level rise. The impacts include brackish water invasions, coastal erosion and reduced groundwater quality and quantity. Throughout the document, there in an emphasis on the melding of traditional practices in agriculture and extreme weather event preparation. This report includes a list of projects planned by the Kiribati government to address is adaptation needs, including (MESD, 1999):

  • Establishment of a climate change and sea level monitoring center.
  • Formation of an integrated coastal zone management plan.
  • Public awareness programming.
  • Education and training program.
  • Research and information dissemination.
  • Technology transfers program.
  • Water supplies program.
  • Alternative energy source program.

In its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), Kiribati builds upon these observations to identify nine key areas in which adaptation action is required. These nine key areas (as detailed in Table 3) include implementation in the areas of (MELAD, 2007):

  • Freshwater–A water resources adaptation project; and a well improvement project to improve public health;
  • Coastal zones–A coastal zone management program for adaptation; 
  • Risk reduction and monitoring–A strengthening of climate change information and monitoring program; upgrading of coastal defenses and causeways; and upgrading of meteorological services;
  • Marine resources–Coral monitoring, restoration and stock enhancement; and
  • Agriculture–Agricultural food crops development.

National Level Policies and Strategic Documents

The prominent documents of the Government of Kiribati that document is adaptation needs, priorities and action plans are its  Initial National Communication and its NAPA, the latter of which was released in 2007. As well, Kiribati has initiated efforts to mainstream climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into its development processes through the Kiribati Adaptation Program, adoption of a Climate Change Adaptation Policy Note and a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy released in 2005. This strategy identifies eight priority areas for action: (1) integration of climate change adaptation into national planning and institutional capacity (2) use of external financial and technical assistance; (3) population and resettlement; (4) government and services; (5) freshwater resources and supply systems; (6) coastal structures, land use and agricultural production; (7) marine resources; and (8) survivability and self-reliance

As well, the Kiribati Development Plan (2008–2011) recognizes the potential adverse consequences of climate change for national development. In addition, Kiribati’s National Water Resource Policy completed in 2008 integrates consideration of the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change (KAP, n.d.).

Current Adaptation Action

The moderate number of adaptation projects, relative to other Pacific Island developing countries, are underway in Kiribati, most of which seek to build local capacity. The projects mainly focus on several sectors, namely: coastal zone management, water, meteorology, forestry and fisheries. Notably, Kiribati has hosted the Kiribati Adaptation Program since 2003. This program has progressively support understanding of climate change impacts, development of adaptation measures and the integration of adaptation into policy and planning. In its third phase, this initiative is supporting implementation of actions identified in Kiribati’s NAPA.

Proposed Adaptation Action

Within its NAPA, Kiribati identified nine priority projects for implementation. Some of these planned actions are now being supported through the project “Increasing Resilience to Climate Variability and Hazards” financed by the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). 

Publication: Dohan, Rosemary; Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Hammill, Anne, Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Pacific.” Adaptation Partnership/International Institute for Sustainable Development, pp.71 - 81. 

Additional References:

Reports and Publications

Assessments and Background Documents


Yusuke Taishi
Regional Technical Advisor