Kiribati Sustainable Towns Programme Project



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Lesson Learned for Cities Alliance Members and Partners
The project has supported mobilization of number of key activities led by urban councils to support scaling up via Sustainable Town Programme. The challenge now is to maintain the partnership and momentum in rolling out the activities.


The Government of Kiribati has developed and implemented an Outer-Island Growth Strategy aimed at providing services on the outer islands, thus hopefully stemming the flow of in-migration to the urban areas. However, the government lacks a coherent national vision regarding economic, social and other potential benefits that might be derived from well planned and managed towns. The Government of Kiribati has recently acknowledged that conditions in the urban areas need to be addressed in parallel with its Outer Islands growth policy. The Sustainable Towns Programme (STP), a development and governance programme managed by a partnership between New Zealand and Kiribati, aims to help build the capacity of urban governments to directly address problems caused by overpopulation, scarce resources, an unfocused economic development effort, and lax service delivery.
The purpose of this proposal is to attract financial support from Cities Alliance to enable Kiribati’s three elected Urban Councils to better develop and implement projects and programmes identified in strategic development plans produced in June and July 2008 by community leaders in each jurisdiction (a partnership between local government and key local stakeholders). Overarching objectives for the three Town Development Strategies (TDSs) produced by citizens' working groups were: (1) To manage a participatory process, previously non-existent in the urban areas, by which the elected Urban Councils meaningfully consult with Government of Kiribati Ministries, NGOs and civil society groups, community leaders and local businesses to consensually develop a long-term understanding of Kiribati’s urban area assets and challenges and a community-based vision of what their towns could become if they were managed strategically; (2) To develop strategic thrusts for future development in each of Kiribati’s three urban areas that are linked to time-bound and resource-identified action plans that mobilise resources for and coordinate future investments by different agencies, the local councils themselves and donors; (3) To provide a practical ‘learning-by-doing’ means to strengthen the Urban Councils' capacities to better govern, plan and manage their areas in consultation with residents; (4) To disseminate the experiences gained and generic lessons learned from Kiribati (understood to be the first Pacific Island country to make use of Town Development Strategies) within Pacific region neighbouring countries through appropriate regional forums and a dedicated website.
1.) Establish community-based strategic planning task forces in each of the three urban councils and develop town development strategies (TDS) using a process facilitated by the Kiribati Sustainable Towns Programme’s urban council advisor, a strategic planning expert. 2.)Identify main problems, assets and opportunities, formulate vision and principles and values, build consensus on what should be strategic thrusts for the future. 3.) Preparation, by technically rigorous methods, of TDS. 4.) Adoption of TDS by the Urban Council. 5.) Annual review of achievement of targets. 6.) Incorporation of TDS activities into Ministry of Internal & Social Affairs  (MISA) and National Economic Planning Office (NEPO) budgetary processes. 7.) Each Urban Council (UC) follows laid out procedures for consulting with residents and key stakeholders, assessing needs, identifying vision and preparing time-bound action plans for implementing a discrete number of strategic thrusts (when the councils officially adopt the TDS produced by the process). 8.) Annual review of achievement of targets and taking amended actions. 9.) Posting an explanation of the TDS process and a summary of its outcomes on MISA, Council and Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Kiribati (KANGO) websites. 10.) Presentation of process and its outcomes, the contents of TDS plans and lessons learned at regional forums.
Expected Impacts and Results
1.) Councils (elected councilors and officials) develop practical means of communicating with and listening to residents. 2.) Residents and key interests (business community, churches, land owners, youth, women’s groups) have an avenue for sharing in the policy-making process. 3.)Transparency and accountability become mainstreamed in the operating culture of the Urban Councils. 4.) Local governments are able to articulate and respond to local needs and priorities which in turn leads to more willingness to pay for services. 5.) Local needs and priorities are fed into local annual development budgets as well as national budgetary plans leading to sustainable financing of improvements. 6.) Local governments are empowered to analyse their local situations and prepare meaningful interventions for improvement on behalf of their residents. 7.) Local governments establish transparent procedures for identifying and addressing the needs of the urban poor and vulnerable groups and mitigating environmental impacts. 8.) Pacific Island countries’ policymakers are exposed to the potentially positive roles that urban areas can play in their economies. 9.) Pacific Island countries’ policymakers are able to benchmark their own urban management experiences against those of a neighbouring country.