5 Mar 2012

Kiribati plans to get Fiji land no surprise, says lecturer

6:32 am on 5 March 2012

A lecturer in Pacific Studies says she's not surprised the Kiribati government is eyeing up land in Fiji for climate change refugees.

Victoria University's Dr Teresia Teaiwa says history shows people from low lying atolls have relocated to other parts of the Pacific as resources run low.

She says it appears Fiji is trying to jump the gun and be ahead of the game, signalling to richer countries it's time to assist islands that are being severely threatened by climate change.

"I'm not surprised that these discussions are taking place. There have been historical precedents for the freehold purchase of land in Fiji by other Pacific Island groups. Mainly from Banaba in Kiribati, and Vitupu in Tuvalu."

Dr Teaiwa says a key issue will be to legislate to manage any possible relocation, ensuring the human rights of both existing communities and potential migrants.