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Home Is Where the Heart Is

Optimize Blog - March 12, 2012 - 0 comments

In what could be the world’s first climate-induced migration of modern times, the nation of Kiribati has got to leave their disappearing island and move somewhere else. Anote Tong, the Kiribati president, said he was in talks with Fiji’s military government to buy up to 5,000 acres of freehold land on which his countrymen could be housed.
Some of Kiribati’s 32 pancake-flat coral atolls, which straddle the equator over 1,350,000 square miles of ocean, are already disappearing beneath the waves. The total land area is 313 square miles and none of the coral atolls rises more than a few feet above sea level.
Most of its 113,000 people are crammed on to Tarawa which lies 1,400 miles from Suva and some of the islanders hold real concerns about whether their culture would survive after the population moves, especially if those who leave first are mainly the young.  A member of the Commonwealth, Kiribati was known as the Gilbert Islands until independence from Britain in 1979.
“This is the last resort, there’s no way out of this one,” Mr. Tong said, “Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages.”
The land Kiribati wants to buy is understood to be on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island. Mr. Tong’s proposal is the latest in an increasingly desperate search for solutions. His government has launched an Education for Migration program, aimed at up-skilling its population to make them more attractive as migrants.
Dr Alumita Durulato, a lecturer in international affairs at the University of Fiji, said: “They are already preparing quite well. They have educated their youth to be able to survive in the new lands that they want to go to. They are going to leave behind their culture, their way of life and lifestyle, which is a little bit different from ours in Fiji.”
Here at Zeitgeist we were thinking about this almost too hard to grasp scenario in the context of managing change and also the impact of change on culture. We regularly see clients struggling to implement change and specifically making the required change stick. We also see existing cultures holding back change or the change being implemented at the expense of retaining and leveraging positive aspects of the existing culture.
When implementing change never take short-cuts on the planning phase. Start early and give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the change. Understand what parts of the existing culture you need to preserve and ensure that the change enables this.
Change is complex and only excellent preparation and planning will deliver success. We hope the people of Kiribati find a new home and we wish them well as they seek to preserve their island nation…….

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