Vanuatu National Land Use Planning and Zoning Policy
Using land is the basis of life for the people of Vanuatu. As the nation develops, population grows, threats of climate change intensify, and competition for land grows, there is an increasing need for appropriate and effective land use planning. It is of vital importance that Vanuatu’s people adequately plan the use of their land, not only for today, but also the future.
Land and its use is, and has always been, a fundamental part of Vanuatu’s culture and identity. What Vanuatu’s people do on their land defines who they are, and as expected, the use of land is as diverse as Vanuatu’s multiple islands and cultures. Because the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu states that the “rules of custom shall form the basis of ownership and use of land1,” no government policy will ever be able to mandate a universal land use practice. Rather this land use planning policy, reflects Vanuatu’s multifaceted cultural heritage and is intended to enable its people to make good and sustainable decisions on how land is used.
The policy aims to guide land use planning by setting priorities and outlining legislative and institutional settings to enable land use planning that encourages the best current use of our land resources and at the same time allowing for future generations equitably benefit from the same resources. This Policy can be regarded as a framework for land use planning, which is clearly emerging as a critical tool in our country’s development. This land use planning policy covers land use planning from rural communities through to our urban centres with the intention of achieving benefits for all of the people of Vanuatu both now and into the future.
The policy sits strategically under Vanuatu’s Land Sector Framework, and its development has included a comprehensive review of past land use planning activities as well as stakeholder consultation across the nation. Thus this National Land Use Planning Policy will help ensure that use of land in Vanuatu, in both rural and urban areas, will help us achieve the vision set out in the Priority Action Agenda (PAA) of “An Educated, Healthy and Wealthy Vanuatu”. While many of the directives given herein will be implemented by non‐government organizations, the private sector, communities and civil society, results and implementation lessons should be tied to this policy reported back to the Government of Vanuatu.