Environmental Law and Policy in Kiribati: Some Conceptual Concerns and Alternatives

Date01 January 2007
Environmental Law and Policy
in Kiribati: Some Conceptual
Concerns and Alternatives
Although the total volumes of waste produced may not be large compared
to other countries, the effects of the disposal of increasing amounts of waste
on fragile small islands environments are likely to be extreme and constitute
a very serious constraint to sustainable development. This is particularly
true for atolls with limited fresh water supplies and inshore lagoon marine
ecosystems that are easily contaminated.1
Over the past decade, concerns about the environment have converged on
the concept of global change. In this context, “global change” refers to the
tendency for the rapidly expanding and economically active world
populations to alter the basic physical and biological processes of the planet
Earth. Of particular concern are artificial changes in the chemistry of the
atmosphere that cause acid deposits, depletion of the ozone layer, and
climate changes.2Beyond these concerns, however, numerous other
environmental problems demand attention, such as the spread of deserts,
water scarcity, destruction of forests, loss of biodiversity, pollution and
depletion of marine resources, and dumping of toxic wastes.
* ’Dejo Olowu LLB (Hons), LLM, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria; LLM
Human Rights & Democratisation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; PG
Dip International Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland; JSD Cum
Laude, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Barrister & Solicitor
(Nigeria); Senior Lecturer, Nelson Mandela School of Law, University of Fort Hare,
East London, South Africa. The author acknowledges the research assistance of Kiata
Kabure (LLB Class of 2007), for her dedication, and to the University of the South
Pacific School of Law for supporting the study trip that resulted in this article. This
article is dedicated to the cause of effective environmental governance in Pacif‌ic Island
1United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), UNCED
Report: Kiribati, 1992 (New York, NY: UNCED, 1992), p 56.
2Axelrod, Downie & Vig, eds, The Global Environment: Institutions, Law, and
Policy (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2005), pp 3–5.

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