Happy New Year, Kiribati – Season’s greetings

By Bart VanLierde

December 31st, 11am Central European Time (CET), while New York and Los Angeles are still at night, on Kiritimati, a coral atoll in the Republic of Kiribati, they will be the first to welcome 2019. ‘Kiritimati’ means ‘Christmas’ in local language. The Kiribati flag symbolically holds a frigate bird, floating over a golden sun, rising from the Pacific Ocean.


Within the next 24 hours, across time zones around the globe, people will await their turn to open bottles, kiss and exchange wishes. Some have bizarre habits. Ecuadoreans burn paper-filled scare crows at midnight. Spaniards stuff 12 grapes in their mouth. Turks wear red underwear. Japanese toll temple bells 108 times. And some South Africans throw old furniture out of their windows. Even in cultures that have their own timetable, many people celebrate along, as throughout the 20th century, globalization brought the Gregorian calendar into their civil and business lives.

Ironically, people from Kiribati are not only traditionally the earliest to launch fireworks for New Year. They are also among the first to experience the future, be it in a totally different way, due to the downsides of exactly globalization and industrialization.

Climate change strikes the Pacific islanders very hard. Parts of Kiribati literally survive behind walls of sandbags and rock, as the sea level mercilessly rises. Drinkable water is in perpetual crisis, because groundwater wells are increasingly salinated, and rains become scarce. Without serious countermeasures, Kiribati is due to disappear within the next decades, leaving many of the poor, vulnerable inhabitants little chance to survive.

Luckily there is hope. In Paris, 2015, the entire international community has recognized global warming as a critical priority, and consolidated this concern into an agreement with targets. Gradually, those are being cascaded to authorities, and companies.

You, our customers, are at the center of events. Your creativity to innovate transportation and machinery, setting new standards for energy efficiency, performance and weight, will be crucial to help mitigating climate change. This challenge comes on top of your daily concern, that present consumers desire high-quality, smart products, in a personalized form, at a reasonable price and in time.


Tackling these requirements altogether will be indispensable to stay in business, and you’ll need a thorough digitalization to do so; in design, manufacturing and product lifecycle management processes.

This is where our Simcenter™ portfolio comes into play. By combining a unique set of simulation, advanced testing and data management solutions, Simcenter allows engineers to generate ultra-realistic, multi-physics models and data. These help you predict and evaluate real product behavior, and effectively optimize and validate complex product performance throughout the entire lifecycle, starting from the very early stages. In this way, we help you be faster and more confident when engineering innovations that matter.  

We hope our continued collaboration can make a difference during these crucial times, and may result in new technologies that will secure the Kiribati sunrise.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the entire Simcenter team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2019.


This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at