Additional EU support for Kiribati environment project

Caption: (L-R) Mr Eliot Ali, National Authorising Officer of the Government of Kiribati; Mr Renato Mele, Head of Co-operation of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific and Ms Fekita Utoikamanu, Deputy Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community following the signing of the EU-Kiribati grant contract. SPC is the project’s implementing agency

The European Union today endorsed a grant contract, signed between the Republic of Kiribati and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, for an additional ?2 million (AUD 2.8 million) for the Environmentally Safe Aggregates for Tarawa (ESAT)project. This brings the total European Union financial contribution to the project to ?5.2 million (AUD 7.1 million).

Implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the project is the first of its kind in the Pacific. It is designed to protect the fragile beaches of South Tarawa from damage caused by unsustainable sand and gravel mining, by providing an environmentally safe supply of aggregates for building materials.

“The European Union is pleased to partner with the Kiribati government and with SPC in this pioneering project. TheEnvironmentally Safe Aggregates for Tarawa project is yet another example of the ever closer cooperation between the European Union and its partners in the Pacific”, said Renato Mele, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific.

“The project has successfully enabled i-Kiribati people to access a local, environmentally-safe source of construction material. The additional activities agreed today will further strengthen the already significant impact of the project. Kiribati has set an example which can be replicated by other small island states,” Mr Mele added.

Professor Mike Petterson from the SPC said: ?This project is an excellent example of innovation in aid assistance.? It began with an environmental challenge (beach mining)? and mineral need (aggregates for construction), identified abundant offshore resources, designed and built a sand dredger and will end up with a profit making private company employing at least 20 people that could last for decades.? The project has become a platform for a wide range of new construction and adaptation to climate change activities in Kiribati. It is an engine for change.?

“The Government and people of the Republic of Kiribati acknowledge with much appreciation and gratitude, the continuous financial support provided by the European Union and further commend SPC for its technical support. Addressing climate change for the most vulnerable states such as Kiribati requires donors, regional institutions and respective governments to work together as real partners and this is exactly what the Environmentally Safe Aggregates for Tarawa project is doing – where the EU, SPC and the Government of Kiribati are working as partners to ensure (that) this project becomes successful,” said Elliot Ali, National Authorising Officer of the Government of Kiribati.

The Environmentally Safe Aggregates for Tarawa project got off the ground in 2009 with the establishment of a state-owned aggregate company and the construction of an open-water vessel for environmentally-safe lagoon dredging operations. It also implements a community and schools-based awareness and behavioural change programme with relevant studies now being included in primary school curriculum.

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