Pacific News | Kiribati’s Unique Path to Graduating From Least Developed Country StatusOctober 24, 2019
In the last issue of Pacific Outlook, we examined the category of Least Developed Country (LDC) created by the United Nations. Of the 47 countries currently listed as LDCs, four are Pacific Island countries - Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Each of these countries is now on their way to graduating from LDC status.
While Kiribati has met the criteria for graduation, it has some unique social, environmental and economic factors that will need consideration. As a low-lying nation spread across 33 coral atolls, Kiribati's economy is particularly vulnerable to setbacks from climate change. If Kiribati graduates, it will also lose access to the International Support Measures (ISMs) that LDCs are entitled to such as market access and trade, development assistance and general support.
According to James Webb, Senior Policy Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, there are two main areas for Kiribati to focus on to ensure its smooth graduation from LDC status.
1. Ensuring the sustainability of fishing resources
Even with other diversification efforts, Kiribati’s fish resources are likely to remain the economic and subsistence base for its people. Conservation of fish stocks should therefore be a primary policy aim to ensure that successive generations of I-Kiribati have access to the same resource. Unlike mining, which necessarily degrades the resource being monetised, a fishery can provide benefits in perpetuity if managed correctly. Reports on the potential impacts of climate change on the Pacific Tuna fishery beyond 2050 predict spawning rates to decline, migration patterns to change, and the pressures on coastal fisheries to increase.
2. Improving the quality of public expenditure
With such a dramatic rise in revenue as Kiribati has recently experienced, there has been overwhelming political pressure to spend the windfall revenues. In 2015 alone, the government’s surplus was a whopping $112 million, which is 49 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These in-year surpluses have largely been spent on capital projects and one-off initiatives, and therefore not allowing for multi-year planning to take place or for projects to be properly assessed by parliament or other stakeholders.
There has also been a history of public projects clashing with and undermining each other due to lack of planning and phasing of projects. Another potential issue is the lack of investment in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy, which is expected to take on much more complex design and construction work in the future.
Without a robust, well organised, system to make prudent expenditure decisions and ensure the money is used wisely, Kiribati is at risk of whittling away what would be the best opportunity it has had in its history to take control of its development future.
Webb argues that if Kiribati consolidates and better manages existing resources (both financial and natural) and focuses on broad-based public investment, there will be a brighter future for the Kiribati people as they thrive after graduation.
Kiribati to graduate LDC status ‘with momentum’, DevPolicy Blog, James Webb, 19 August 2019
Kiribati: what will it lose when it graduates?, DevPolicy Blog, James Webb, 20 June 2019
Kiribati’s unique economic structure, DevPolicy Blog, James Webb, 12 June 2019
LDC graduation and the Pacific, DevPolicy Blog, James Webb, 4 June 2019
A GRAIL WOMAN IN AUSTRALIA EXPLAINS WHY SHE SUPPORTS A ‘YES’ VOTE IN SATURDAY’S REFERENDUMOctober 12, 2023
As a member of the Redfern Women’s Reconciliation Network (RWN), I am grateful for the Indigenous people, especially women, I have come to know and love over the...
The International Survey of Catholic Women: Analysis of responses from AustraliaSeptember 21, 2023
The International Survey of Catholic Women: Analysis of responses from Australia has just been released. If you are not sure what this is about, here is the...
Deep Sea Mining in the PacificMarch 23, 2023
In mid-January 2023 the French Parliament voted to ban deep-sea mining in its waters, in a move against the controversial practice. Deep-sea mining uses heavy...
Tricia Gemmell’s Speech for the Avila book launch of ‘In Her Voice’March 16, 2023
I want to thank you all for coming here tonight to celebrate with us, not just the publication of In Her Voice, but the whole journey that Australian Women Preach...
A RETURN TO TRADITIONAL FOOD?September 19, 2022
The dangers of too much dependence on imported food are currently being felt through consequences of the Ukraine war. Many countries imported wheat from Ukraine....
Pacific Island Countries Combating Plastic PollutionJuly 19, 2022
Pacific Islanders depend on the ocean for their food and livelihood. These small island countries are surrounded by oceans. The Pacific Island countries are...
CONTROL THE VAMPIRE COMPANIES!July 7, 2022
Oxfam’s Annual Report 2022, World Inequality, warns that 240 million more people are likely to fall into extreme poverty and face dire hunger because of the...
“one small step for women… one giant leap for herstory…”June 20, 2022
There is a little known story in the book of Numbers, chapter 27. The five daughters of Zelophehad dared to ask for an inheritance they felt was rightly theirs....
HIGH LEVEL REGIONAL POLITICAL GROUP ON DEEP SEA MINING LAUNCHEDJune 16, 2022
“As Pacific Leaders and custodians of this vast ocean, we are obliged to preserve the ocean for the sake of future generations and for all living and non-living...