21 Sep 2005

Kiribati under major population pressure, president tells UN

3:23 pm on 21 September 2005

The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says population issues are a major challenge to development efforts in the country.

President Tong has told a meeting of the United Nations general assembly in New York that effective family planning has already been given greater focus in the Kiribati development strategy.

Mr Tong says growing numbers of unemployed youth have brought new social problems to the country, and other countries should look at the model of New Zealand's Pacific Access immigration scheme.

The president says Kiribati's fishery resources could provide a basis for a sustainable future but it needs people to provide credit and investors willing to develop onshore facilities.

The UN meeting heard that Kiribati is seriously considering the option of having to relocate its people when necessary, as a result of the greenhouse effect pushing up sea levels.