Country

Vanuatu

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting Vanuatu.

Adaptation

As with other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the Vanuatu archipelago, including sea-level rise, increased intensity of extreme events, and changes to agricultural productivity and water availability. In 2007, Vanuatu completed its National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), which outlined the most urgent and immediate needs with respect to climate change, and identified several priority sectors. The adaptation component of Vanuatu's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution does not seek to set adaptation targets for Vanuatu. However, it provides an opportunity to reiterate the adaptation priorities as identified and prioritized in key national documents such as the NAPA and the National Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy. Priority sectors include agriculture, land use, land use-change and forestry (LULUCF), the coastal zone, tourism, infrastructure, water and environment. 

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors

  • Switch to different cultivars. 
  • Improve and conserve soils. 
  • Enhance irrigation efficiency and/or expand irrigation. 
  • Increase water supply (e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination). 
  • Decrease water demand through conservation measures, leakage reduction, dual water supply systems and economic development. 
  • Build flexibility into the water provisioning systems to address future climate change.
  • Improve water management infrastructure and planning.
  • Alter system operating rules (e.g. pricing policies, legislation). 
  • Implement integrated planning efforts involving rural landholders, provincial authorities, and departments of lands, agriculture, forestry, mines, water supply and environment or by legal or administrative restrictions on activities impacting on water catchments.
  • Improve management and maintenance of water supply networks to reduce wastage will also reducing vulnerability in both urban and rural areas. This will require training in maintenance of taps, tanks and pipes and access to appropriate hand tools.
  • Support extension initiatives that promote water conservation and moderate usage, while raising awareness of the importance of water resource management. 
  • Limit mosquito breeding sites by covering water containers or using alternative storage facilities. 
  • Prevent mosquito entry to the country through stricter port controls and quarantine regulations. 
  • Prevent exposure to vector borne diseases through improved house design and the use of mosquito nets. 
  • Plant shade trees to reduce heat stress. 
  • Implement awareness-raising activities on the potential impacts of climate change on health, including projected changes in the outbreaks of water and insect borne diseases, as well as appropriate response mechanisms for dealing with these. 
  • Enhance protection through sea walls and beach nourishment; in some cases the best adaptation option is a limited retreat from the coast, while in others resettlement to other areas may need to take place.
  • Implement an integrated coastal resources management plan. 
  • Conserve inshore fishery resources to ensure continued availability as food for the rural population. 
  • Improve local distribution, storage and marketing facilities. 
  • Develop export markets and create the necessary infrastructure to support the overseas sale of catches that are surplus to local demand. 

Gaps and Needs

  • Community risk assessment and participatory risk assessment methodologies should be promoted with a direct link to appropriate activities and planning at the sub national and local levels.
  • Water supply and demand studies need to be conducted across the country. Responding to climate change in the water sector is hampered by a limited understanding of how water supplies will be impacted by rising temperatures. Research is desperately required on the links between climate change and water resources in the context of small islands.
  • Modeling of the storm surge zone, taking into consideration possible sea level rise. Planning mechanisms can subsequently be used to direct all new investments in infrastructure, housing construction and agriculture outside this zone to minimize vulnerability, reduce repair costs and decrease disruption to economic activities.
  • Detailed assessments of climate change impacts and risks across a variety of sectors are required in order to develop sound response strategies, in particular focusing on food security, water resources and coastal resources.
  • Almost no work has been done to downscale climate models to individual islands. Realistically, it may not be possible to derive more accurate climate change information due to the small size of these islands, however, more work needs to be done to address the “island dilemma.” New information should be made available in an accessible format as well as credible and useful to decision making at the island scale.
  • Overall applied research assistance is required to properly establish an island-specific and robust baseline from which to gauge projected changes and impacts.
  • Comprehensive vulnerability maps identifying the locations of high vulnerability could support disaster planners in preparing communities for worse case impacts as well as helping local communities take an active role in identifying appropriate response mechanisms.
  • Establishing a robust observation network is a critical first step towards addressing potential cyclone risks.
  • The limited integration of climate change considerations into current development activities needs to be addressed by strengthening coordination among the country’s relevant institutions. This includes improving the country’s capacity for emergency preparedness and response at all levels.
  • Responding to climate change requires a significant effort is made to raise education activities and awareness regarding current and projected climate variability and change. Integrating climate change into formal education curricula as well as community awareness programmes could help to meet these goals.
  • The technical and financial capacity of existing institutions needs to be augmented to address the needs of the country’s more remote islands- in particular there is a need to adequately train and equip those responsible for addressing climate change risks, as well as those which will be tasked with managing new projects on climate change.
  • Legislative policies and development activities need to take into account climate change. For example, existing infrastructure projects need to be properly climate-proofed to deal with projected climate risks.
  • Gaps appear to the absence of adaptation action directly specifically at the health needs of Vanuatu’s population in a changing environment, gender disparities and marine resource management.
  • Improving the country’s meteorological services, including: restoring and upgrading the basic infrastructure and operations; putting in place an appropriate local capacity building program to improve scientific/technical staff resource levels and to upgrade skills; building climate change Issues into National Development Plans.
  • Addressing sea level and storm surge risks will require the use and interpretation of the information that is coming out of the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project.
  • The use of existing meteorological information is limited to specific agencies and this information needs to be tailored to decision makers across a wider series of sectors, including water resources management.