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

At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate change and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.

Climate change and disaster impacts in Vanuatu

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. Volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis also affect the country.

  • Vanuatu will experience more cyclones like Tropical Cyclone (TC) Harold (2020) and TC Pam (2015), which seriously harmed the livelihoods of over 67,000 households and resulted in economic damages accounting for over half of the country's GDP. TC Harold alone caused over $700 million worth of damage and losses and destroyed homes, schools, health centres, crops and fresh water supplies. Australia was a first responder to both cyclones, distributing essential humanitarian supplies and providing support for health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), policing and justice services, gender and social inclusion.
  • In both 2017 and 2018 volcanic eruptions caused the evacuation of over 11,000 citizens of Ambae. Australia is providing long-term recovery support to help communities re-establish their lives on Ambae and on other islands where affected communities have settled.
  • Climate change is causing more extreme rainfall events, severe flooding, and storm surge, accelerating coastal erosion. These events take a toll on essential infrastructure, like roads, which can result in communities being cut off. Australia is helping Vanuatu to ensure its rural road network is resilient to the impacts of extreme weather events.

Bilateral support

Australia has provided approximately $29.6 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Vanuatu since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the infrastructure, community, disaster risk reduction, education, skills and health sectors.

  • Through support to the education sector, including the Vanuatu Skills Partnership ($4.9 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $23.5 million 2017-22 project total), Australia’s partners are working to integrate climate change resilience in vocational training in tourism, agribusiness and handicrafts. This enables ni-Vanuatu to assess and manage climate change and disaster risks that may impact their livelihoods.
  • The Roads for Development Program ($2.1 million 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $54 million 2012-2023 project total) is working to ensure that rural roads linking communities to vital health and education facilities and markets, are designed and maintained to withstand increasingly extreme weather.
  • Australia is providing $5 million (2017-2022) in response and long-term recovery support to the communities of Ambae Island, who are returning to their homes after multiple volcanic eruptions forced them to evacuate. This includes rebuilding school and health facilities, and offering training to support increased livelihood opportunities.
  • Australia is concluding its $50 million package of Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery support (2015-2019). Under this support, 397 health, education and other public buildings have been rebuilt to withstand future climate hazards. These buildings are benefiting over 75,000 people.
  • In 2019, the UN Markets for Change Program, primarily funded by Australia, renovated the Luganville Market House in Santo, to ensure the marketplace was Climate Change resilient and safe and accessible for market vendors, most of whom are women. The market house survived Cyclone Harold in 2020 and was back in use within a week.
  • With Australian support ($1.1 milliion 2016-2020 in climate change and disaster finance of $16.8m 2010-2021 project total), the local Wan Smolbag Theatre has performed shows to inform ni-Vanuatu about managing climate change and disaster impacts.

Australia’s regional and global support

A range of regional and global climate change investments are working directly to build climate change and disaster resilience in Vanuatu, including:

  • The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Vanuatu Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countries to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
  • The Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific Program (Gov4Res) (Australian contribution $10.4 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation.
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