Vanuatu Climate Field School
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:18

A climate change ‘field school’ was recently conducted on Pele Island, Vanuatu, with the goal of strengthening local climate change adaptation capacity.

Vanuatu’s climate is changing, and in response the Vanuatu Government is pursuing a strategic policy emphasising preparedness and adaptation. Climate change in Vanuatu is manifested by an intensification in and increased frequency of climate extremes (storms, heat waves, flooding) and climate variability (El Niño Southern Oscillation). Therefore, sustainable development requires urgent and practical solutions in all sectors.

Adapting to climate change in Vanuatu means much more than building sea walls to protect against sea level rise, and much more than waiting for big donor- or government-funded projects. What Vanuatu requires most urgently is a series of small-scale, inexpensive and easily implemented adaptation actions that everyone can undertake in their rural community. Thus there is a critical need to train government and non-government service providers to deliver these skills and strategies to the communities and individuals they serve.

This inaugural climate change field school on Pele targeted community leaders and provincial government staff in Shefa Province, who received practical training in a range of simple adaptation technologies appropriate in rural Vanuatu. These technologies have been developed and trialled during the last 2 years under the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)/Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region (CCCPIR) Programme. The 50 participants developed hands-on skills in the technologies of weather observation and recording, livestock husbandry, forest nursery management, food preservation and storage, banana multiplication, citrus grafting, vulnerability assessment, compost toilet construction, sea wall construction, management of marine conservation areas, and honey bee husbandry.

The hands-on training was conducted by a range of local experts from the Department of Meteorology, the National Disaster Management Office, the Department of Agriculture, SPC/GIZ CCCPIR, the Nguna-Pele Marine and Land Protected Area Network, the US Peace Corps, the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the environmental non-governmental organisation Live and Learn. The field school followed a train-the-trainers programme on climate change and disaster risk reduction developed by SPC’s Community Education Training Centre (CETC) with the technical support of SPC/GIZ, the USP-EU Global Climate Change Alliance Project, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Organised into four sessions, the field school included both hands-on exercises and practical information on natural hazards and disasters in the Pacific; the causes and effects of climate change; climate change vulnerabilities and impacts in Shefa Province; and improving delivery of services in adaptation, emission mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

Richard Jennery, Area Secretary of Emae Island, said, ‘this has been one of the most useful trainings I have ever attended because it took us out of the classroom and into the field, where we really learned what adaptation to climate change is in practice. Provincial officers need to have these skills so that as they channel development to their communities they can make sure that climate change adaptation is the highest priority.’

‘This kind of climate field school on Pele is a model which the government will use in the future in other provinces and islands,’ said Salesa Kaniaha, Manager of the government’s Climate Section.

For more information, contact the SPC/GIZ Climate Change Programme at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +678 555 2187.