Vanuatu embarks on its preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference with a technical training for Delegates

21 October 2015 – Today Vanuatu wrapped up its first technical training for the entire delegation that will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris France in December 2015. Vanuatu will have a crucial role to play at this meeting, as world governments must reach a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of limiting global warming. Since the early 1990’s Vanuatu has always fought above its weight at the international climate change negotiations because its people are at the very front lines of climate change. Climate-related disasters are a matter of survival for the people of Vanuatu. This year, severe category 5 Cyclone Pam forced 26% of the population to be displaced from their homes and caused VT 48.6 billion (US$449.4 million) in loss and damage equivalent to 64.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP). It is on this backdrop that the Vanuatu delegation will “storm” Paris to demand ambitious action from the global community on climate change adaptation, mitigation and ways to loss and damage. The Vanuatu delegation was selected from a group of applicants from across government, civil society, academia and development partners. The 2015 selected delegates represent the largest and highest capacity climate change delegation ever assembled under the Vanuatu flag. The three day training, hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change brought in technical experts from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). Through technical discussions and hands-on practical sessions, the delegates were able to pull together a first draft of Vanuatu’s negotiating positions for Paris. Vanuatu will has a special role in this COP21 negotiation as it seeks to raise ambition on greenhouse gas mitigation, specifically to limit warming to well below 1.5°C before the end of this century. Vanuatu also aims to ensure strong provisions and requirements around Loss and Damage are met, particularly as it proceeds down a long road of recovery and reconstruction after the devastation caused by Cyclone Pam. In partnership with its allies from other small island developing states and least developed countries, Vanuatu expects to make a real different this year at the climate change negotiations. According to Vanuatu’s UNFCCC Taskforce chairman, Mr. Jesse Benjamin (Director of Energy), “this is the best preparation Vanuatu has ever had going into a major climate negotiation session. Vanuatu has reformed its approach to become much more participatory and open and allowing government experts from many experts become a part of the national planning.” The delegation has several more preparatory activities planned, including a major public awareness activity as part of the 2015 Fest Napuan Music Festival to be held from 28th October to 1st November at Saralanga Park in Port Vila. As part of the festival, a public climate protest has been organized in which the delegation will march alongside members of the public, students and non-government organizations to express solidarity on achieving a legally-binding climate treaty in Paris. Each day of the Fest Napuan festival has a different climate-related theme, including a renewable energy day in which the public will be able to see the many types of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy available to Vanuatu. The Director General of the Ministry of Climate Change, Mr. Jotham Napat concluded that “we must fight for climate action or we will die, this is a matter of life and death for Vanuatu and I encourage everyone to become a part of our movement towards the UN climate conference at the end of this year. We need you.”