Vanuatu national summit on climate change and agriculture
Thursday, 22 March 2012 08:26

Tuesday 20 March 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Vanuatu –Luganville

In the last week, over 80 participants from 15 institutions, who work on islands from Torba to Tafea, met in Luganville, Santo, to produce tools to support communities with practical responses to one of Vanuatu’s most pressing issues: climate change.   Vanuatu’s climate, like climates worldwide, is changing, and being prepared for and adaptable to the consequences of climate change, variability and extremes is the government’s priority.  As Vanuatu’s understanding of the climate system grows and the society becomes more aware of the costs and benefits of climate change, communities are increasingly expecting government to provide them with climate-related services.  The summit provided an opportunity to government extension officers to better understand the concepts of climate, climate forecasting and climate change and they will, in turn, support communities to implement practical solutions.

Supported by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Pacific Island Climate Prediction Programme, the SPC-GIZ Climate Change Vanuatu Programme, the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department and the Vanuatu Agricultural College, the summit has enabled the development of practical and easy-to-do climate change adaptation solutions for ni-Vanuatu people.  It has embraced a cross-sectoral and holistic approach to adaptation, pooling resources and skills as a necessary means for climate and climate change impacts to be effectively tackled at the community level.

Participants spent five days considering the impacts on and solutions for the sectors of agriculture, forestry, livestock, quarantine and environment. Working groups and developed a number of outputs, including new El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) warning procedures, a framework for collecting local knowledge on climate, a new ENSO advisory booklet, revised crop and seasonal calendars for each province, a proposal to develop provincial climate nurseries, fact sheets on livestock and climate change and a best-practice guideline for coastal rehabilitation through forestry.  Many of these outputs are contributing to Vanuatu’s National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

A major achievement of the summit was the development of integration mechanisms to link meteorology, agriculture, forestry livestock and communities, ensuring an innovative interface between climate service providers and users.  To facilitate this integration, a memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed by the directors of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department and the SPC-GIZ Climate Change Programme.  This MoA sets out a three-year framework of cooperation to bring climate change services to grassroots people.

Senior-level participants attended from the National Advisory Committee on Climate Change,  Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-hazard Department, Agriculture Department, Department of Forestry, Department of Livestock and Quarantine, Department of Environment, SPC-GIZ, VARTC, Vanuatu Agriculture College, The University of the South Pacific, Vanuatu Red Cross, Wan Smolbag, Farm Support Association, the Nguna-Pele Marine and Land Protected Area Network, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and ClimSystems.

Overall, the summit fulfilled its objectives and lived up to its theme of ‘thinking globally, acting locally’, finding ways to engage communities and enable adaptation action to the global challenge of climate change.  The outputs from the workshop will form an important guidance for national climate change policy and should be considered a major achievement for Vanuatu.

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