Vanuatu National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA)

Introduction

In Vanuatu climate change is likely to impact all sectors especially agriculture, water, coastal and marine resources and infrastructure as well as tourism. The major climate change concerns of Vanuatu presented in the NAPA are projected sea level rise, sea temperature rise and the possible increase in cyclones and other major storm events. Agriculture is entirely rain-fed and is susceptible to changes in rainfall distribution. Intense and prolonged rainfall could damage seedlings, result in greater run-off and soil erosion and encourage conditions that promote pests and diseases. Drought combined with higher temperatures could cause added thermal stress on plants. 

Projected increases in sea surface temperatures combined with increased ocean acidification (from increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere) are likely to put pressures on the marine food chain (particularly reef systems and other calcifying organisms such as planktons) which in turn potentially threatens aspects of marine food supply and associated livelihoods. The incidence off vector-borne disease such as malaria and dengue fever, and water-borne diseases such as dysentery and diarrhea are likely to increase and shift in distribution (malaria likely to extend further southwards).

Project Details

Vanuatu is an archipelago of approximately 80 volcanic islands, with an area of approximately 12,336  square kilometers located off the north-eastern coast of Australia. The island’s population of approximately 221,000 individuals is predominantly rural and relies mostly on agriculture, tourism, raising cattle and offshore financial services (UKFCO, 2011).

In Vanuatu climate change is likely to impact all sectors especially agriculture, water, coastal and marine resources and infrastructure as well as tourism. Agriculture is entirely rain-fed and is susceptible to changes in rainfall distribution. Intense and prolonged rainfall could damage seedlings, result in greater run-off and soil erosion and encourage conditions that promote pests and diseases. Drought combined with higher temperatures could cause added thermal stress on plants. Projected increases in sea surface temperatures combined with increased ocean acidification (from increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere) are likely to put pressures on the marine food chain (particularly reef systems and other calcifying organisms such as planktons) which in turn potentially threatens aspects of marine food supply and associated livelihoods. The incidence off vector-borne disease such as malaria and dengue fever, and water-borne diseases such as dysentery and diarrhea are likely to increase and shift in distribution (malaria likely to extend further southwards).

There is a high level of awareness among key stakeholders in Vanuatu of the risks posed by the hazards associated with climate change and natural disasters. Vanuatu is the only Pacific Island Country to have completed both a National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) and a National Action Plan (NAP) for Disaster Risk Reduction. A recent Global Fund for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) stock taking exercise, building on the NAPA and the NAP, also identified priorities. The stock-take also emphasized the links between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and the relevance of this approach for the Pacific Islands. Furthermore, the government is committed to follow through on the Hyogo Framework to integrate the management of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Additionally, there is a commitment to merge the National Advisory Committee on Climate Change (NACCC) and the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC).

Adaptation Needs and Priorities

The major climate change concerns of Vanuatu are projected sea level rise, sea temperature rise and the possible increase in cyclones and other major storm events. Based on these projections, Vanuatu has identified the following sector-based needs to reduce its vulnerability to the impacts of climate change (VMS, 1999; NACCC, 2007):
 
  • Agriculture: The diversification of crops to help increase the resilience of agricultural systems to climatic extremes; and better understanding of horticulture in the face of changes in productivity, pests/pathogens and  the  growth requirements of subsistence crops.
  • Human Health: Furthering the work that has already been done in environmental management to aid in the control of malaria, dengue and filiarisis; researching proper waste disposal to minimize contamination in the face of cyclones/floods; and management of surface water to maintain quality and supply.
  • Freshwater Resources: Management of water catchments to minimize pressure on groundwater resources; reducing vulnerability of the water supply in rural and urban areas; water conservation efforts; and expansion of rainwater storage capacity through rainwater harvesting. 
  • Coastal Developments: Modeling of the storm surge zone with consideration of sea level rise; planning initiatives for infrastructure to be able to withstand cyclones, high floodwater flows and high intensity rainfall; exclusion of extractive activities from the coastal zone; replanting littoral vegetation in cleared and degraded areas; identifying areas that are highly vulnerable and planning for worst case impacts to communities; and technical planning for relocation of communities. 
  • Coastal Marine Environments: Community based marine resource management programs that consider modern and traditional management strategies and aquaculture; and  planning around local economic opportunities that are an alternative to the harvesting of marine resources in the face of rising sea levels, greater concentrations of marine carbon dioxide and rising marine temperatures. 
  • Forestry: Promoting sustainable forestry management.
  • Social and Cultural Concerns: Identification of coping strategies for the impacts of climate change on food security, land resources and water availability; and fostering collaboration between social institutions to identify and prioritize social vulnerabilities. 
  • Broad Economic Impacts: Expanding the range of agricultural products; selection of plant varieties that are better suited to predict future climates; identifying opportunities to reduce reliance on coastal marine resources; relocating infrastructure to areas of low vulnerability; and introducing sustainable tourism programs. 
     
National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
Adaptation action in Vanuatu is facilitated in part by the active National Advisory Council on Climate Change (NACCC). This Council was established as part of the Pacific Islands Climate Change Assistance Project initiated in 1995  with financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 
  
Vanuatu submitted its Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1999 (VMS, 1999) and is currently in the process of preparing its Second National Communication. Reflecting its status as a least developed country, Vanuatu developed a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) that was submitted in 2007 (NACCC, 2007). There is emphasis on the melding of modern and traditional management approaches throughout the NAPA. These documents provide a basis for adaptation planning in the country.  The Vanuatu  government also is presently preparing its first National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy as part of the “Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Islands Region Programme.” The strategy is expected to build upon and synthesize the NAPA and Vanuatu’s Disaster National Action Plan into a long term action plan (SPC, 2011).
 
Current Adaptation Action
 
A high level of adaptation action is taking place in Vanuatu at present, relative to other Pacific Island countries. This degree of activity stems mostly  from its involvement in  many  of the  regional programs taking place in the Pacific.  Capacity building and research are common components of these projects; some also are implementing pilot adaptation  actions. The sectors most frequently being addressed through these projects are coastal zone management, agriculture, disaster risk reduction and policy and planning. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australia and Germany are financing multiple projects in Vanuatu. Vanuatu has also received funding from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to support implementation of the project “Increasing Resilience to Climate Change and Natural Hazards,” which incorporates many of the priority activities identified in its NAPA.
 
Proposed Adaptation Action
 
Vanuatu’s NAPA identifies several priority areas and projects for climate change adaptation. Many of the programs have cross-sectoral benefits, have  a focus on sustainable economic development, and include traditional ecological knowledge and/or community involvement (NACCC, 2007). Many of these proposed adaptation actions are currently being implemented through the country’s LDCF financed project.
 
Publication
Dohan, Rosemary; Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Hammill, Anne, Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: The Pacific.” Adaptation Partnership/International Institute for Sustainable Development, pp. 159-170.
 
Additional References

 

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved capacity building and project identification, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Vanuatu
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Completed
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
200,000
Co-Financing Total: 
20,000

Key Results and Outputs

Key Vulnerabilities

  • Agriculture/Food Security
  • Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems
  • Water Resources
  • Public Health
Potential Adaptation Measures

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Switch to different cultivars
  • Improve and conserve soils
  • Enhance irrigation efficiency and/or expand irrigation

Water Resources

  • Increase water supply, e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination
  • Decrease water demands, e.g. by increasing efficiency, reducing water losses, water recycling, changing irrigation practices
  • Improve or develop water management
  • Alter system operating rules, e.g. pricing policies, legislation

Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems

  • Develop Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Project Components

 

  • Preparatory Activities
  • Consultation and prioritisation
  • Drafting of NAPA and public review
  • Endorsement and Publication of NAPA
 
Expected Outputs
 
  • Establish NAPA Project Team
  • National Stakeholder consultations
  • Drafting of prioritised proposals
  • Public review and dissemination of NAPA
  • Government review and endorsement

 

 

Reports and Publications

Plans and policies of relevance to NAPs for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Contacts

UNDP
Gabor Vereczi
Regional Technical Advisor