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 inherentlyvariable and often punctuated by extreme events. Being prepared for the consequences of climatechange, 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 thesustainable development of society. As understanding of the climate system continues to deepenand society becomes more aware of climate‐related benefits and negative impacts, public demandfor robust climate information services is expected to grow. Communities will increasingly expectthat climate information services are: accessible, dependable, usable, credible, authoritative,responsive, flexible, and sustainable. In many cases it is perhaps necessary to provide mechanismsthat 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 ClimateServices (GFCS) has brought a new momentum to integrate climate information and products intodecision‐making in all socio‐economic sectors, through an effective two‐way dialogue betweenproviders and users. This national summit, as its overall objective, sought to refine the interfaceamong climate knowledge providers and users, to enable more regular and profound use of climateknowledge services available in Vanuatu. Specifically focusing on land based sectors (Agriculture,Forestry, Livestock and Environment), summit organizers sought to target those most directlyaffected by climate change, variability and extremes, and who could most benefit from the use oftargeted climate information services for specific contexts. Of primary interest in this summit wasthe consideration and refinement of seasonal forecasting, a tool used to forecast climate extremesin the short term (2‐3 month outlooks).The summit’s theme, “thinking globally and acting locally” was chosen as our nation attempts tocope 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 identifiedthrough a national consultation exercise. Food Security (and the Agriculture Sector generally) wasidentified as the highest priority area for adaptation by the national government. This priority wasreiterated 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 Ministryof Health.6The localized adaptation strategies being developed and promoted are intended to address thoseimmediate and tangible impacts now being felt in ni‐Vanuatu communities. While long‐term changeis being measured in Vanuatu through increasing temperature ad sea level rise, the most immediateadaptation requirements address climate variability (ENSO) and associated extreme events. Directlyaffecting our day‐to‐day lives, changes to the frequency and intensity of ENSO events is a directmanifestation of climate change.While climate impacts on agriculture and food security are severe and currently experienced, othersectors are also face unprecedented impacts. Impacts on forestry and livestock are projected to beequally 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 andenvironmental tolerances that can be used, alongside forecasting tools, for local‐scale adaptation.Similarly livestock species in Vanuatu are extremely vulnerable to climatic fluctuations. The seasonalforecasts provided by the Vanuatu Metrological and Geohazards Department can influence thedecisions farmers take to prepare for and recover from extreme events.This summit was organized to provide an opportunity for representatives from the Department ofAgriculture, the Department of Forestry, the Department of Quarantine and Livestock, governmentextension field officers, Academia such as the Vanuatu Agriculture College (VAC), establishedresearch institutions such as the VARTC, Scientific institutions such as the Australian Bureau ofMeteorology, Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo‐hazard Department, regional technical agencies suchas SPC‐GIZ and others to discuss a way forward.The forum has enabled the discussion and identification of practical and easy‐to‐do adaptationsolutions in response to climate change, variability and extremes. Achieved by aspiring to a holisticmulti‐sectoral, multi‐agency approach and the pooling of resources, this summit served as a modelfor tackling climate change at the community level in Vanuatu. Furthermore, the workshopengendered a deeper appreciation for solid scientific agro‐meteorological services that respond tolocal food security issues in an integrated way.This report presents strategies to effectively integrate and adapt to climate change, variability andextremes; both those discussed during the summit and others included from around the region. It ishoped that this document will become a valuable resource from which many institutions, bothgovernment and non government, can utilize.