Vanuatu is on the front lines of the climate crisis, facing existential threats from rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters.
Climate change stands as the foremost foreign policy concern for Vanuatu, as it presents significant threats both to food and water security and intensifies the frequency and severity of tropical cyclones, which, in turn, impede economic and human development as was seen early this year when the country was devastated by two consecutive Category 4 tropical cyclones within a five-day period.
In light of these challenges, the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) European Union-funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme has had a substantial impact in Vanuatu. Since its initiation in 2019, PACRES has worked closely with key stakeholders, including the Climate Change Department, Forestry Department, and Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Ruben Markward, Campus Director at USP Emalus in Vanuatu, expressed his appreciation for the project and emphasized the value of collaboration. “USP has a longstanding commitment to our communities,” he said, adding that “through the capacity building of the USP PACRES component, we play a vital role in empowering and training our local stakeholders and community representatives.”
“People also recognize the importance of USPs in projects like PACRES,” he added. “Our successful delivery, in collaboration with the climate change department and partners, is critical for the long-term sustainability of projects of this nature.”
The PACRES programme assumes a critical role in Vanuatu’s efforts to address the pressing challenges posed by climate change. As the country grapples with the adverse effects of climate change, the urgency of effective regional and national adaptation and mitigation responses becomes increasingly apparent. The PACRES programme has played a pivotal role in facilitating these responses, providing a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and capacity building.
The involvement of the USP PACRES team with key stakeholders was instrumental in the success and long-term impact of such projects. Sustainability planning ensures that the benefits and progress achieved during the project continue even after its completion.
These discussions aim to offer a comprehensive update on the project’s status, progress trajectory, lessons learned, and far-reaching implications for Vanuatu. The discussions span from the project’s inception in 2019 to its impending closure this year, with the goal of forging a sustainable future for Vanuatu by addressing climate change challenges head-on.
Sustainability represents a paramount concern for climate change projects. While project activities may yield immediate benefits, their long-term impact hinges on sustainability planning. The USP PACRES programme recognizes this imperative and is actively devising a strategy to ensure its sustainability as it nears its conclusion. This strategy encompasses measures to preserve the knowledge and capacity developed during the project, as well as mechanisms for sustained collaboration with stakeholders.
The successful implementation of the USP PACRES activities would not have been possible without the invaluable support and collaboration of Vanuatu’s Climate Change Division, Department of Forestry, community representatives, and key stakeholders. Their commitment and involvement have been pivotal to the success of these initiatives.
The USP component of the EU-funded Intra-ACP GCCA+ PACRES program is implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).