It is evident that because Nauru is a single small island, the effects of climate and sea-level change will be highly inter-related and conditioned by the environmental and social changes that occur in the future. This, combined with the uncertainties relating to present sensitivities and climate and sea-level change scenarios for Nauru, as well as the uncertainties in determining cumulative and integrated effects, suggests that the best adaptation strategy in Nauru would be a 'no-regrets' approach. The adaptation strategies for Nauru include, but are not limited to, the following objectives: Land rehabilitation and protection; Strengthening environmental education; Strengthening environmental institutions and legislation; Conservation of biodiversity; Promotion of the sustainable use of marine resources; Pollution and waste management; Control of population and urban growth; and Appropriate infrastructural development.
Nauru is an isolated, uplifted limestone island located in the South Pacific approximately 2,900 kilometres northeast from Australia. The total land area of Nauru is only 22 km2 (2200 ha). The island is surrounded by a fringing coral reef between 120 and 300 metres wide. The reef drops away sharply on the seaward edge, at an angle of about 40o, to a depth of about 4000 metres. The land area consists of a narrow coastal plain or "Bottomside", ranging from 100 to 300 metres wide, which encircles a limestone escarpment rising some 30 metres to a central plateau, known locally as "Topside". Historically, phosphate was the primary economic resource in Nauru, and the country boosted of having one of the highest rates of Gross Domestic Product per capita. However, these stores were thought to be nearly depleted and the end of phosphate mining left a legacy of environmental degradation and unemployment. The country is now mostly dependent on foreign aid and food imports from Australia and other countries.
ADAPTATION NEEDS AND PRIORITIES
The main climate change vulnerabilities in Nauru are sea level rise and the effect that an increase in temperature will have on marine resources and already stressed water and vegetative resources (DIDI, 1999). Due to environmental degradation, Nauru is already experiencing coastal erosion and declines in the productivity of its coral reef systems. Rising ocean temperatures, sea level rise and an increase in the number of intense storms could cause further damage to these ecosystems (DIDI, 1999).
Nauru also has no significant surface water resources; desalination plants and groundwater are its only drinking sources. Water scarcity is already affecting human health. Greater incidence of drought could therefore reduce the sustainability of the country’s groundwater resources, the health of its population, and the persistence of a vegetation ecosystem already stressed from major phosphate mining (DIDI, 1999). In response to these concerns, Nauru identified education and information activities that have been or should be implemented to support is efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
NATIONAL LEVEL POLICIES AND STRATEGIC DOCUMENTS
Nauru’s First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (DIDI, 1999) outlines its baseline situation, highlights the environmental degradation resulting from nearly a century of phosphate mining and the country’s commitment but limited capacity to cope with the effects of climate change. This document outlines several initiatives that Nauru has taken part in, and several actions that it would need to take as first steps to adapt to the effects of climate change (particularly sea level rise).
CURRENT ADAPTATION ACTION
Nauru is involved in a low number of adaptation projects at the regional level as identified in Table 2; no nationally focused adaptation projects have been identified. Through these projects, adaptation action is being implemented on the ground that addresses needs related to agriculture, coastal zone management, water, forestry, tourism, gender and policy and planning.
PROPOSED ADAPTATION ACTION
There is no evidence of proposed adaptation actions within Nauru at this time.
Primary Resource: Dohan, Rosemary; Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Hammill, Anne, Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Pacific.” Adaptation Partnership/International Institute for Sustainable Development, pp.89-93.
- Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] (2011). The World Factbook: Nauru. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/theworld-factbook/geos/nr.html
- Department of Islands Development and Industry [DIDI] (1999). Climate Change Response. Republic of Nauru Response. 1st National Communication - 1999. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Retrieved from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/naunc1.pdf