National Summit to Improve Understanding on Climate, Climate Change and its Impacts on Agriculture and Land‐based Sectors
Climate is always changing, and on a variety of time scales. Rarely uniform, climate is inherently
variable and often punctuated by extreme events. Being prepared for the consequences of climate
change, variability and extremes is a strategic policy option, once chosen by the Republic of Vanuatu.
Adaptation to climate change, variability and extremes represents an important challenge for the
sustainable development of society. As understanding of the climate system continues to deepen
and society becomes more aware of climate‐related benefits and negative impacts, public demand
for robust climate information services is expected to grow. Communities will increasingly expect
that climate information services are: accessible, dependable, usable, credible, authoritative,
responsive, flexible, and sustainable. In many cases it is perhaps necessary to provide mechanisms
that will trigger and encourage the interface between climate knowledge providers and users.
The World Climate Conference‐3 (WCC‐3) with the establishment of a Global Framework for Climate
Services (GFCS) has brought a new momentum to integrate climate information and products into
decision‐making in all socio‐economic sectors, through an effective two‐way dialogue between
providers and users. This national summit, as its overall objective, sought to refine the interface
among climate knowledge providers and users, to enable more regular and profound use of climate
knowledge services available in Vanuatu. Specifically focusing on land based sectors (Agriculture,
Forestry, Livestock and Environment), summit organizers sought to target those most directly
affected by climate change, variability and extremes, and who could most benefit from the use of
targeted climate information services for specific contexts. Of primary interest in this summit was
the consideration and refinement of seasonal forecasting, a tool used to forecast climate extremes
in the short term (2‐3 month outlooks).
The summit’s theme, “thinking globally and acting locally” was chosen as our nation attempts to
cope with a global phenomenon through local action and grass roots adaptation interventions.
Priority areas for adaptation in Vanuatu’s National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) were identified
through a national consultation exercise. Food Security (and the Agriculture Sector generally) was
identified as the highest priority area for adaptation by the national government. This priority was
reiterated during separate regional workshops attended by Vanuatu’s Ministers for Health,
Agriculture and Trade. As a result, Vanuatu held its Food Security Summit in 2009 led by the Ministry
The localized adaptation strategies being developed and promoted are intended to address those
immediate and tangible impacts now being felt in ni‐Vanuatu communities. While long‐term change
is being measured in Vanuatu through increasing temperature ad sea level rise, the most immediate
adaptation requirements address climate variability (ENSO) and associated extreme events. Directly
affecting our day‐to‐day lives, changes to the frequency and intensity of ENSO events is a direct
manifestation of climate change.
While climate impacts on agriculture and food security are severe and currently experienced, other
sectors are also face unprecedented impacts. Impacts on forestry and livestock are projected to be
equally serious for ni‐Vanuatu, particularly as nearly all farmers practice mixed production systems.
Tree species such as the five priority species of the Department of Forests (Natapoa, Whitewood,
Sandalwood, Nangai and Mahogany) each have specific and well‐delineated climatic and
environmental tolerances that can be used, alongside forecasting tools, for local‐scale adaptation.
Similarly livestock species in Vanuatu are extremely vulnerable to climatic fluctuations. The seasonal
forecasts provided by the Vanuatu Metrological and Geohazards Department can influence the
decisions farmers take to prepare for and recover from extreme events.
This summit was organized to provide an opportunity for representatives from the Department of
Agriculture, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Quarantine and Livestock, government
extension field officers, Academia such as the Vanuatu Agriculture College (VAC), established
research institutions such as the VARTC, Scientific institutions such as the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo‐hazard Department, regional technical agencies such
as SPC‐GIZ and others to discuss a way forward.
The forum has enabled the discussion and identification of practical and easy‐to‐do adaptation
solutions in response to climate change, variability and extremes. Achieved by aspiring to a holistic
multi‐sectoral, multi‐agency approach and the pooling of resources, this summit served as a model
for tackling climate change at the community level in Vanuatu. Furthermore, the workshop
engendered a deeper appreciation for solid scientific agro‐meteorological services that respond to
local food security issues in an integrated way.
This report presents strategies to effectively integrate and adapt to climate change, variability and
extremes; both those discussed during the summit and others included from around the region. It is
hoped that this document will become a valuable resource from which many institutions, both
government and non government, can utilize.