Kiribati – Temaiku Reclamation

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT)


The effects of climate change are increasingly recognised as a global emergency. Climate-induced sea level rise affects the coastlines of many countries, but none more so than the atoll countries of the Pacific, which have land areas barely above sea-level.

Calibre is at the forefront of efforts to help these at-risk countries plan for their future, to enhance resilience and to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Kiribati, one of only four atoll countries in the world has most of its 100,000 population squeezed on to a single atoll, South Tarawa.  The highest parts of the atoll are the beach ridges along the coast but most of the land behind the beach ridges is lower and much of it is regularly flooded in king tides or during stormy conditions.

The Kiribati Prime Minister Anote Tong visited the borrow pit reclamation that Calibre had managed in Tuvalu and commented that it “had opened my eyes to the possibilities for my country.” 

The success of the Tuvalu project resulted in Calibre being engaged by the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare a desktop feasibility study for reclamation options for Kiribati.

Calibre worked closely with Dr Arthur Webb, a specialist in Pacific coastal process and who has close ties with Kiribati, to investigate and report on the available options.  The report included a range of options and discussed risks and data gaps, social and environmental aspects, planning approvals necessary for the work, expected costs and recommended an implementation programme.

The favoured option was to dredge sand from the lagoon to raise a 340 hectare area of low-lying land immediately south of the international airport to mitigate the effects of sea level rise.  The newly raised land area would be sufficient to accommodate up to 30,000 people, and to relocate government buildings and essential infrastructure to the higher ground.

The proposal gives hope to a country that has been facing the possibility of forced migration from their homeland.

Development agencies have accepted this positive recommendation and have continued to work with the Kiribati Government to implement the scheme.