25 Oct 2019

Tuvalu PM looks to Japan for help with 'artificial island' plan

4:23 pm on 25 October 2019

Tuvalu's prime minister says his country is looking to Japan for assistance in creating an "artificial island".

The prime minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano.

The prime minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano. Photo: Supplied / Government of Tuvalu

Kausea Natano has spoken to Kyodo News about fledgling plans for a major project using reclaimed land from the lagoon by the main atoll, Funafuti.

The plans, revealed earlier this year by RNZ Pacific, come as Tuvalu's leaders continue to raise awareness about the threat of sea-level rise to the country.

The local council of elders proposed dredging up sand from the lagoon and building a new land mass in a pocket of shallows in Funafuti's far south.

Mr Natano told the Japanese outlet that the reclaimed area could be about 16 square kilometres in size.

According to him, the project could cost as much as $US280 million.

While a construction date is not yet known, the prime minister said Tuvalu hoped for financial assistance from Japan and other countries.

Meanwhile, Mr Natano, who was elected last month, reiterated a frequent call by his predeccesor Enele Sopaga.

He said he asked the world community to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight the climate crisis.

Parts of Saipan projected to be partially submerged by 2050

Meanwhile, some parts of Saipan will be periodically submerged in 30 years time, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Administration's coastal management specialist warns that Saipan's functional space will decrease by 2050 during extreme tides or storm events.

Robbie Greene serves as the Administration's liaison for the Northern Marianas Division of Coastal Resources Management.

While predicting periodic submersion of low lying areas, he said fortunately the CNMI had a substantial amount of time to begin adapting.

He said investments in upgrading infrastructure were essential for islands such as Saipan to be less susceptible to rising sea levels.

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