The Pacific island country of Kiribati is an increasingly popular destination for journalists and environmental activists hoping to “see” sea level rise. If they travel to the right village at the right stage of the annual tidal cycle and wander out at the right time of the day, they will certainly find flooding. The images of flooded homes, taro pits and maneabas (community meeting huts) do provide a window into Kiribati's possible future. But these ubiquitous pictures are only part of the story

Kiribati is not just a passive victim. It is home to the fledging first steps of a broad, international effort to aid the developing world in adapting to climate change. A trip along the narrow islands of South Tarawa reveals everything from organizations like the Kiribati Adaptation Project to workers rebuilding roads, people carrying sandbags to fortify new seawalls, young mangrove saplings planted to strengthen the lagoon shoreline and installation of a crucial leak-detection system for vulnerable freshwater pipes. These scenes and others are captured in photos I have taken during my various trips to the island nation.