The Management of Coastal Carbon Sinks in Vanuatu: Realising the Potential - scoping and feasability study

This report explores the opportunities that recognising blue carbon could bring to Vanuatu. Commissioned by the Government of Vanuatu from the Commonwealth Secretariat, it sets out the opportunities, supportive arguments, and issues and potential barriers around incorporating blue carbon as part of their overall climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy. While a number of blue carbon projects elsewhere are focused primarily (or soley) on monetising the financial value of carbon through carbon credit schemes or similar, the Commonwealth Secretariat believes this to be an inherently risky strategy. Carbon prices may vary or crash, and such an approach is often at odds with cultural and societal values, especially in the Pacific region.This report takes a broader look at the full range of values blue carbon can hold for Vanuatu, describing the values of blue carbon habitats, what is already known about such habitats in Vanuatu, and how existing projects and initiatives can help form a useful basis from which to proceed. As such it may act as a blueprint for studies elsewhere in the Pacific and more widely, though the exact mix of recommendations made here are specific to Vanuatu. This is due to the relatively small area of blue carbon habitats present, but also the strong and intimate links through customary stewardship between local communities and the health and wellbeing of their surrounding environment.The report makes 12 major recommendations stemming from this analysis and the overall conclusion of the net positive effect that would be achieved from implementing a blue carbon initiative in a stepwise approach, in isolation, or with other countries in the region.The report concludes that blue carbon presents a new and real opportunity for Vanuatu, but cautions that an inherently risky strategy of focussing predominantly on monetising the potential financial value of the stored carbon should be avoided. Indeed the overall conclusion is that the raft of potential wider benefits associated with blue carbon probably outweighs the financial value of carbon for Vanuatu. This is especially the case due to the relatively small area of such habitats in the islands, and acknowledging the fundamental importance of the close ties villages and communities, and their wellbeing, have to such natural resources. Aligning any potential blue carbon work on mangroves with activities already underway through REDD+ is another important action to be achieved early on in the process.

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