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Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific - Vanuatu

Australia is supporting Pacific governments, businesses and communities to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience. At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years to strengthen resilience in the Pacific from 2020. This builds on the commitment to spend $300 million over four years from 2016.

Australia is committed to working in partnership with the people of Vanuatu to increase climate change action and disaster resilience across the country. We are integrating climate change and disaster resilience across the aid program in Vanuatu, including in our economic infrastructure, education and disaster recovery programs.

  • Climate change is making tropical cyclones stronger. Vanuatu and the region will experience more storms like Cyclone Pam in 2015, which seriously harmed the livelihoods of over 40,000 households and resulted in economic damages accounting for 64 percent of the country's GDP. Australia is helping to strengthen the ability of Vanuatu's National Meteorological Service to provide early warnings for extreme weather events to protect lives and livelihoods.
  • In both 2017 and 2018 over 10,000 citizens of Ambae Island had to be evacuated due to volcanic eruptions, which are an ever-present hazard for ni-Vanuatu. Australia is providing long-term recovery support to help communities re-establish their lives on Ambae and other islands where households have settled.
  • Increasing ocean temperatures and acidification are damaging Vanuatu's reefs and disrupting the tourism sector, which accounts for 40 percent of the country's GDP. Australia is helping people in the tourism sector to develop skills to manage the impacts of climate change on businesses.
  • Climate change is increasing the incidences of extreme rainfall events, which are causing more flooding, and increasing storm surge, which is worsening coastal destruction. These impacts take a toll on essential infrastructure, like roads, which can result in communities being cut off. Australia is helping to ensure Vanuatu's rural road network is resilient to the impacts of extreme weather events.

Vanuatu is recognised as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change and disasters. Cyclones and extreme rainfall are common. The country is also affected by volcanic activity.

Australia's programs

Australia has provided approximately $18.8 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Vanuatu since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including the ones below.

  • Through support to the education sector, including the Vanuatu Skills Partnership ($21.3 million, 2017-2022), Australia's partners have worked to integrate climate resilience in vocational training courses for tourism, agribusiness and handicrafts sectors so people working in these businesses can assess and manage risks to their livelihoods.
  • Australia is working with the Vanuatu Government through the Roads for Development Program ($54 million, 2012-2023) to ensure that rural roads, which are vital to the livelihoods of ni-Vanuatu, are designed and maintained to withstand increasingly extreme weather conditions.
  • Australia is providing $5 million (2019-2021) in long-term recovery support to the communities of Ambae Island, who are returning to their homes after multiple volcanic eruptions forced them to evacuate.
  • With Australian support, the local NGO, Wan Smolbag, has performed shows across the country to inform ni-Vanuatu about how to manage climate change and disaster impacts in the years to come.

Regional and global programs

Australia's regional programs are changing the way people manage the impacts of climate change and disasters. Under the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, Australia's aid program is supporting Pacific island governments to build resilience and shift to low-carbon development by investing in climate-and-disaster-informed education, health, infrastructure, energy, and food and water security.

The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) works in Vanuatu with the National Meteorological Service to provide seasonal forecasts that help farmers plan for harvesting, and weather warnings to alert people about disasters.

The Pacific Resilience and Governance Program ($10 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation to ensure they are building resilience into government initiatives across a range of sectors.

Last Updated: 14 October 2019
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