Despite its tiny size, Tuvalu has gained a high profile for its campaigning on climate change issues. As a small island state, Tuvalu stands to be much impacted by climate change.
But there are other underlying environmental issues that also affect Tuvalu as it develops. Importing goods from the outside world brings packaging and plastics to dispose – but where? How and where does a tiny island where land is precious dispose of its rubbish? I found the rubbish tip smouldering away, and litter strewn along the road leading up to that end of the island. Old rusted out cars were abandoned by the side of the road.
Although by world standards the population of Tuvalu is minuscule and the islands are spread over a vast ocean, Funafuti is becoming increasingly urbanised and overcrowded as people migrate from outer islands. Population density is increasing, on an island that is often only metres across from one side to the other.
The “borrow pits” were created during World War Two when the American military “borrowed” earth from some places to construct the runway. These are now filled with stagnant looking water and rubbish, but still have shanty homes built alongside.
Perhaps Tuvalu might be considered a microcosm of the world’s broader environmental issues, condensed on one tiny island – urbanisation, population increase, disposal of unwanted consumer products and their by-products.