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Small Island Nation of Kiribati Purchases Foreign Land as Climate Refuge

The small island nation of Kiribati has purchased a swath of land in Fiji as a refuge for citizens who may be displaced by rising sea levels, marking the first time a country has taken such actions as a defense against climate change, the Guardian reports.

Kiribati, home to roughly 110,000 people scattered across 33 islands in the Pacific Ocean, is one of several small island nations in the Pacific and Indian oceans that could be extensively or completely submerged within a few decades.

The cost of protecting such countries often far outweighs their national incomes, which are heavily dependent on tourism. Kiribati, with a GDP of under $200 million, ranks among the 10 countries facing the most severe financial impacts of climate change.

The tract of 20 square kilometers on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji, could potentially provide a future refuge for all of Kiribati’s citizens, the country’s president said, but in the meantime Kiribati plans to use the land for agriculture and fish-farming projects.