The Stream

Can Kiribati be saved or will it drown?

In the first of a special week of shows from the Sundance Film Festival, we look at the island nation’s plight and the story of the film “Anote’s Ark”.

The island nation of Kiribati is under threat of drowning – and former President Anote Tong hopes that grim reality will warn other countries about the real-world consequences of climate change. In “Anote’s Ark” – a new documentary film premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – Tong travels the globe to highlight the plight of his impoverished nation, whose 100,000 residents are now at risk of becoming refugees due to sea level rise.

“It’s a very personal, emotional story”, says the film’s producer, Bob Moore. “It’s pure storytelling, telling the next major story around climate change, which is climate migration.” Given Kiribati’s location in the Pacific Ocean, the possibility that residents would have to one day flee their homes caught them off guard.

“Kiribati is in the centre of the world”, says Tong in the film’s opening narration. “So far away, so isolated – we thought we would be immune from the tribulations of this world.” A World Bank report in July 2016 suggested that Australia and New Zealand allow open access migration for Pacific nations to spur economic growth and alleviate the pressure of forced mass migration.

So, are Kiribati and its people resigned to their fate, or can something be done to prevent disaster?

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Anote Tong
Former President, Republic of Kiribati

Matthieu Rytz @MatthieuRytz
Director, Anote’s Ark

Alice Thomas @AliceRThomas
Climate Displacement Programme Manager, Refugees International

Read more:
Montreal filmmaker at Sundance explores plight of tiny nation Kiribati – National Post
Waiting for the tide to turn: Kiribati’s fight for survival – The Guardian
Climate science is not a belief system – Al Jazeera

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.