In a recent speech to the UN General Assembly, President Taneti Maamau said his country offered "heartfelt condolences" to the victims of recent natural disasters in another sea of islands, the Caribbean.
However, Maamau warned the people of Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and the Maldives and other small island states continued to suffer from the impact of the "slow onset climate disaster".
"This may not capture the attention of the global community due to its slow impact and limited media attention but it is causing pain and suffering in our communities," he said.
"Like you, Kiribati also looks forward to a day when we have to tell a different story to our children, and their children’s children. A story without heartbreaking human suffering and loss. A story of success and joy."
There are pressing public health problems due to limited freshwater supplies and poor sewerage/sanitation services, which cause pollution problems and water-borne illnesses like diarrhoea and dysentery which, in turn, causes high infant mortality.
It has poor quality soil which – combined with water shortages – make it hard to grow food crops. But I had an interesting chat with one local who successfully cultivates a kitchen garden through traditional means - mixing coconut husks in the soil and even burying some old food tins which slowly rust.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are working on sanitation and water projects, which will hopefully ease these problems.
New Zealand and Australia are also active aid donors to Kiribati, while the World Bank/ADB are jointly backing a submarine cable project to link Nauru, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia to the international internet.
These projects – plus major roadworks funded by the World Bank, the ADB, Australia and Japan - helped make for sustained economic growth in recent years. Around half the population is aged under 24 years, meaning there is a pressing need to grow industries which will provide new jobs at home.
Like elsewhere in the Pacific the remittances of locals working overseas is important. The Marine Training Centre on Tarawa, run in cooperation with German shipping lines, has trained thousands of seafarers over the last 50 years.
Kiribati also provides workers for overseas tourism resorts such as Hayman and Hamilton islands in the Greater Barrier Reef off Queensland.
Inbound tourism is still limited, with work needed on infrastructure and training plus a general clean-up which includes many dumped cars.
Until recently, the major international airline link to Tarawa is via Fiji, plus flights between Nauru and the Marshall Islands. New flights have begun from the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara, which provide a link to Brisbane and elsewhere.
But as things stand, the Kiribati economy is kept afloat by fishing – specifically the tuna industry.
The President told the UN about 80 per cent of the country's recurrent budget revenue comes from fishing, mostly selling access rights to operate in Kiribati's EEZ.
In his UN address, President Maamau welcomed proposals for an international, legally-binding instrument for managing marine diversity outside the EEZs.
"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this issue with an ambitious vision which 20 years from now, Kiribati aspires to implement a self-reliance strategy to harvest, process and market its own tuna," he said.
Across the Pacific there are problems with illegal fishing and ocean acidification caused by the increased absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere decreasing the pH levels of the sea.
But Kiribati has provided a good example of how small Pacific nations can claim a greater share of the sea's bounty for their domestic economy and provide local jobs.
A determined Fijian businessman of Chinese heritage, Xuejan Du, started in the restaurant game Fiji before going into the fishing industry in the 1980s.