An archipelago of more than 80 islands, Vanuatu is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change (tropical storms, floods, tsunamis...), which exacerbate economic and social difficulties. AFD Group has been operating in Vanuatu since 1961 and is currently focusing its activities on three main themes: climate, youth and connectivity, in conjunction with reducing vulnerability and strengthening regional integration with New Caledonia.
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Drone view of an island in Vanuatu
Afd group and Vanuatu: taking action to reduce vulnerability through climate, youth, and connectivity
Vanuatu Beach

Combating climate change

waste treatment in vanuatu

Combating climate change

Regarded as the country most at risk from natural disasters according to the 2020 World Risk Report, Vanuatu declared a state of climate emergency in 2022.

Since 2022, it has been part of the Kiwa initiative to equip Pacific territories to adapt to the effects of climate change and protect their biodiversity through nature-based solutions (NBS) with the regional Pebacc+ project (in Port-Vila and Tanna), and the Lamacca ecosystem restoration and conservation project.

Vanuatu is a partner in the Clipssa project, launched by AFD, IRD, and Météo France alongside New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna. With the help of climate forecasting from now until 2100, Vanuatu will have a better understanding of climate trends (heat waves, rainfall, and tropical storm activity). This project will identify the local knowledge that makes up people's “risk culture”, which is useful for adapting to extreme events.

The country is a partner in the Swap project (Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific) for sustainable waste management in the Pacific. It is part of a community of exchanges and has regional training courses for its civil servants. Vanuatu will be funding three pilot waste management projects.

Promoting the integration of young people by supporting universities

young woman in vanuatu university

Promoting the integration of young people by supporting universities

AFD is supporting the National University of Vanuatu (UNV) to promote the development of high-quality bilingual higher education and facilitate the economic and social integration of young people. This project contributes to building the university campus and supports the UNV teams in strengthening management and developing the training course program to meet the needs of the job market.

This project ties in with initiatives undertaken by decentralized cooperation with local authorities in New Caledonia, such as building a bioclimatic building (amphitheater) and the future installation of a molecular biology facility at the UNV, with the support of the Institut Pasteur de Nouvelle-Calédonie. These initiatives are a powerful symbol of the cultural and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Strengthening connectivity

airplane in Vanuatu

Strengthening connectivity

AFD is also working to open up the country and improve connectivity. It is supporting Vanuatu's aviation sector in its strategy to comply with environmental standards and combat climate change, by targeting the safest and most virtuous investments for the climate and the environment, and promoting the transition to new, lower-emission technologies with the support of the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC).

At the same time, AFD is supporting the digitization of the country's healthcare system and the university's digital services with delegated funds from the European Union. The DIRECCT program is also helping Vanuatu develop a database of people with disabilities to facilitate relief efforts in the event of natural disasters.

Taking collective action for public health in the pacific

Vanuatu public health researchers

Taking collective action for public health in the pacific

AFD and the Pacific Community (SPC) have been working together since 2018 to reinforce public health surveillance and response capacities in the Pacific region through the ROSSP project  (Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network). This network supports the national policies of the 22 member states (including Vanuatu) by offering a range of integrated public health surveillance services. It is also developing regional cooperation on new issues: antibiotic resistance, monitoring the health impacts of climate change, etc.

In Vanuatu, the ROSSP project is reinforcing the public health surveillance system in relation to climate change through training courses for health personnel in field epidemiology. The country benefited from tools and technical assistance to update national guidelines in the field of infection, prevention, and control. It has also received medical and digital equipment.

MD-VUV currently in use
projects underway
of funded projects have climate co-benefits

The Republic of Vanuatu is an archipelago of over 80 islands. Its size and geographical distribution make it particularly vulnerable to the climate risks and natural disasters that threaten Pacific island nations (tropical storms, floods, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis...).

Vanuatu was one of the four Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Oceania until the end of 2020. As a small, remote, spread-out economy, with a GDP of around $956 million and an external debt estimated at 46.1% of GDP in 2021, the country offers few opportunities for sustainable growth. 65% of its 314,000 inhabitants live in rural areas.

Economically and socially, the country's recovery was in sight, driven by the recovery of the tourism and agricultural sectors, but the consequences of tropical storms, combined with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, plunged the country into a particularly difficult situation.

AFD has been a long-standing partner of Vanuatu since 1961 and was initially involved in investments in the aviation sector, in support of regional planning and the archipelago's economic and tourism development, and in the healthcare, education, and water sectors.

AFD's operations in Vanuatu are now focused on three key areas to help reduce vulnerability: climate, youth, and connectivity. It is involved in the following ways:

  • through regional projects, in response to the challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity, and fostering joint solutions between the Pacific island states, including the French territories, as part of a regional cooperation approach,
  • via bilateral projects to promote youth and regional connectivity (aviation and digital sectors).

AFD's operations in Vanuatu come under the Pacific Ocean Regional Office.

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