PEIN Country Profile and Virtual Environment Library
Melanesia - Pacific (Oceania)
Bislama, French and English
National Focal Points for Environment:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources - Environment and Conservation
* Excerpt from Priorities and Action Agenda for Vanuatu 2006 – 2015: “An Educated, Healthy and Wealthy Vanuatu”
Environment and Disaster Management
Vanuatu has a wide range of natural resources. The development of these natural resources will be the main way of raising incomes and creating employment. It is therefore critical to ensure that that environment is protected. In addition, land and the environment are central to ni-Vanuatu culture. Preservation of the environment is therefore of great importance.
Environmental concerns featured prominently in the CRP with an emphasis on strengthening existing customary measures to sustain environments. The history of environmental protection has been marked by some notable successes. Round log exports are banned; conservation measures for sandalwood have been taken; and numerous protected areas have been developed.
Environmental management is the responsibility of the Environment Unit, although other departments including Agriculture and Forestry also have responsibilities in relation to environmental issues. A few NGOs are also active in the environment sector.
Modern legislation has been introduced for environmental management. The Environmental Management and Conservation Act was passed in 2002 and provides for the conduct of environmental impact assessments and for biodiversity and protected areas.
Key Issues and Challenges
Vanuatu’s biodiversity is threatened by a number of introduced species of plants and animals and over harvesting of some reef and lagoon fish. However, quarantine protocols have been developed to prevent the import of weeds, pests and diseases. As a result, Vanuatu is largely free of animal diseases and parasites, which has allowed the cattle industry to flourish.
With Vanuatu’s population growing at 2.6% per year and urban areas growing faster, there is increasing pressure on both urban infrastructure and the environment in Port Vila and Luganville. Water pollution in Port Vila harbour and the lagoons is serious. The probable cause of the high pollution is the lack of a sewerage system and poor management of many individual septic tank systems. The urban environment of Port Vila is particularly important for sustaining the growth of tourism. A new Port Vila development plan would assist in defining how public amenity can be maintained or improved and the attractiveness of the town enhanced for both residents and tourists.
The safe disposal of solid waste is a significant problem for many communities. Assessing solid waste disposal issues is a moderately high priority for many islands.
The effects of global warming on climate are hard to predict, but it is likely that storms will become more severe and that climactic zones will shift, affecting rainfall patterns and drought. Sea level rise would have an impact in the future especially as many roads and settlements are close to the coast.
Lack of resources is constraining the full implementation of the Environmental Management and Conservation Act.
Vanuatu is highly vulnerable to a range of natural disasters including cyclones, coastal flooding, river flooding, earthquakes, landslides, tsunami and volcanic eruptions. The emphasis in disaster management has been on making communities aware of the need for preparedness and promoting the renewal of traditional knowledge of mitigation and preparedness.
The National Disaster Management Office with the assistance of the National Disaster Committee is mandated to develop strategies for the prevention of, preparation for, response to, and recovery from, disasters.
Policy Objectives, Priorities and Strategies
Priorities and strategies are to:
1. Implement the Environmental Management and Conservation Act and the regulation of related activities;
2. Encourage the development of protected areas;
3. Improve sewage treatment and reduce pollution in the harbours and lagoons near urban centres;
4. Conduct a solid waste disposal study;
5. Encourage eco-tourism, where feasible, as a means to protect the environment;
6. Conduct community awareness of the need to protect the environment including through reduction of risks from natural hazards;
7. Develop and implement risk reduction programs in communities;
8. Prepare a Port Vila development plan to define how public amenity can be maintained or improved and the attractiveness of the town enhanced for both residents and tourists.
Little data is available to measure performance in achieving the objectives. Progress will be measured by monitoring the Priorities and Strategies.
Click the tabs below to browse various information
Adaptation Learning Mechanism [climate change adaptation] country profiles
Asian Development Bank Country Profiles and Strategies
Biodiversity Clearinghouse Mechanism websites
Biosafety Profiles [CBD Biosafety Clearinghouse Mechanism]
Birdlife [Avifauna] Profiles
see also Species profiles [*For the Globally Threatened Birds (those evaluated as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable), each factsheet contains a summary account, range map and an illustration, plus additional data tables. For Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Near Threatened, Least Concern and Data Deficient species, each contains a concise summary paragraph and some additional data tables.] [Birdlife International]
see also Endemic Bird Areas [EBAs] of the Pacific [incl. Aitutaki (secondary area) ; East Caroline Islands ; Fiji ; Gilbert Islands (secondary area) ; Henderson Island ; Mariana Islands ; Marquesas Islands ; Marshall Islands (secondary area) ; Nauru (secondary area) ; Niuafo‘ou (secondary area) ; Niue (secondary area) ; Northern Line Islands (secondary area) ; Palau ; Pitcairn (secondary area) ; Rapa (secondary area) ; Rimatara ; Rotuma (secondary area) ; Samoan Islands ; Society Islands ; Southern Cook Islands ; Tonga (secondary area) ; Tuamotu archipelago ; Wake Island (secondary area) ; Wallis and Futuna (secondary area) ; Yap Islands ] [Birdlife International]
see also Important bird areas of the Pacific [IBAs] (2010) [Birdlife Pacific]
* order the complete CD-ROM 'Important bird areas in the Pacific: a compendium' from theSPREP IRC
see also Pacific regional overview [Birdlife International]
see also Globally Threatened Birds (those evaluated as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) of Oceania [Birdlife International]
see also State of the World's birds website and report [Birdlife International] - including Pacific country case studies
Country Climate Profile [UNDP]
* Sourced from the Adaptation Learning Mechanism, a knowledge sharing platform developed by UNDP in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Programme.
Earthtrends Thematic Country Profiles [WRI]
Agriculture and food, Biodiversity and protected areas, Climate and atmosphere, Coastal and marine ecosystems, Economics, business and the environment, Energy and resources,Environmental governance and institutions, Forests, grasslands and drylands, Population, health and human well-being, Water resources and freshwater ecosystems.
Energy Profle [IRENA;2009/10]
Environment Statistics - Country Snapshots [UN; 2009]
Environmental Vulnerability Index - Country Profiles [SOPAC / UNEP]
EU Pacific Country Environment Profiles
Vanuatu (2004; 1.11mb)
see also EU Country Partnership Profiles [incl. environment and EDF10 strategies]
Fishbase Biodiversity Country Profiles (all fish)
Fisheries Resources Profiles
Vanuatu (2007; 1.87mb)
Forestry Country Profiles
Forestry Department Country Profiles [FAO]
see also FAO Forest Resource Assessment : Country Reports 
Vanuatu (2010; 224kb)
see also State of the World's Forests 2007: Asia and the Pacific [FAO] (2008; 1.77mb)
see also Tropical and subtropical forest profiles prepared by the World Wildlife Fund
see also Mongabay Rainforest profiles:
Global Biodiversity Information Forum [GBIF] Country Profiles
see also GBIF Google Earth Country Links
Global Environment Facility (GEF) Country Profiles
Use the drop down menu to go to the individual profiles - includes GEF-4 Allocation and Utilization , Approved Projects and Projects Under Preparation
Integrated Water Resource Management Profiles [SOPAC]
Invasive Species : Country Profiles [ISSG]
Laws and legislation
Environment Dept. website - Acts
see also 'Legislative reviews' in Country Reports (below)
Mangrove and Wetlands Profiles [ *from Proceedings of the Pacific Regional Workshop on Mangrove Wetlands Protection and Sustainable Use . SPREP, 2002.]
Vanuatu (2002; 191kb)
see also: A Directory of Wetlands in Oceania 
see also: Wetlands of the Pacific Island Region (2008; 882kb)
see also: IWMI Global Wetlands - Interactive Web Map Server - includes countries of Oceania
see also: Wetlands in Oceania - country profiles and wetlands information [UNEP-WCMC] -
Marine Resource Profiles
Vanuatu (2000; 63kb)
State of the marine environment in the South Pacific Region (1990; 3.48mb)
Reefbase Country Profiles (coral reefs, reef fish, biodiversity)
Status of Coral Reef Systems of the World: 2008 (2008; 20mb)
see also GIS data for corals in the Pacific from Reefbase - browse by country and reef profile
see also GIS data for marine protected areas in the Pacific from Reefbase - browse by country and ecosystem
MPA Global Profiles (marine protected areas database)
see also Millennium Coral Reef Mapping - South Pacific products
IMARS Geomorphological classification is publicly available on the University of South Florida web site from http://www.imars.usf.edu/MC/output_south_pacific.html . Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa, New Caledonia, Cook Is, French Polynesia and East Solomon are there (PNG will hopefully be coming shortly). Files are distributed as Shapefiles (ArcGIS) and can be opened in MapInfo.
Mapservers containing country level data on land utilisation, forestry, minerals etc.
Pacific Biodiversity Information Forum Country Data:
Pacific Regional information System - PRISM [SPC]
Environmental and Climate Statistics
Political Reviews [Contemporary Pacific]
Protected AreasReefbase GIS data for marine protected areas in Vanuatu
see also GIS data for marine protected areas in the Pacific - browse by country and ecosystem
SocMon profiles (Socioeconomic Monitoring Initiative for Coastal Management ) - Pacific
SPREP Country Profiles: Exchange of Information by Members at SPREP Annual Meetings:
- Exchamge of information by Members on National Developments related to Natural Resource Management Priority of the Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 6.1: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 18th SPREP Meeting of Officials in Apia, Samoa on 11th to 14th September 2007
- Exchange of information by Members on national developments related to Pollution Prevention priority of the SPREP Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 8.6: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the19th SPREP Annual Meeting of Officials in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia on 8–12 September 2008
- Exchange of Information by Members on National Developments Related to the Climate Change Focus Area of the SPREP Action Plan 
see Agenda Item 11.2: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 20th SPREP Annual Meeting of Officials in Apia, Samoa on 17 - 20 November 2009
- Exchange of Information by Members on Year of Biodiversity 
see Agenda Item 11.3: Country Profiles of the Report and record of the 21st SPREP Meeting of Officials in Madang, Papua New Guinea on 6-10 September 2010
see also individual profiles for: Wallis and Futuna
Sustainable Development Profiles (UN Agenda 21)
Threatened species: Summary of species on the 2008 IUCN Red List
UNEP Country Profiles [* poorly maintained and little information available]
WHO Environmental Health Profiles
World Bank Environment indicators
World Factbook Country Profiles [CIA]
World Ocean Database 2005 [NOAA]
Geographically sorted data for the Pacific Ocean [datasets]
see also Environmental indicators: South Pacific (UNEP: 2004; 6.23mb)see also Paciifc Biodiversity Information Forum website and databases
Asian Development Bank Country Environmental Analysis Reports
Vanuatu (2007; 443kb)
Community Vulnerability & Adaptation Assessment & Action Reports
Country Strategy Papers and National Indicative Programmes [European Union - EDF10]
Vanuatu (2008-2013; 652kb)
Disasters and Climate Variability in the Pacific Islands: WORLD BANK regional stocktake- Country Assessment:
Vanuatu (2009; 376kb)
Disaster Risk Reduction: National Action Plans
Vanuatu (2007; 1.31mb) ,
Mauritius Strategy + 5 Review: National Assessment Reports [5-year Review of Progress Made in Addressing Vulnerabilities of Small Islands Developing States Through Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation (MSI) of the
Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) ]
Vanuatu (2010; 596kb)
Millenium Development Goals National Reports
Vanuatu (2005; 1.57mb)
Montreal Protocol: National Compliance Action Strategies to implement the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
Vanuatu (2001; 194kb)
National Adaptation Plan of Action - NAPA - [Climate change]
Vanuatu (2009?; 7.26mb)
see also National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: Pacific Regional Review (2007; 269kb)
National Biosafety Frameworks
Vanuatu (2005; 313kb)
National Capacity Self Assessment (NCSA)
Stocktake Reports: Vanuatu (2006; 5.66mb)
NCSA Status (NCSA website)
National Energy Policy Framework *endorsed
Vanuatu (2007; 75kb)
National Energy Policy Framework Workplan *endorsed
Vanuatu (2007; 114kb)
National Environment Management Strategy (NEMS)
Vanuatu [Conservation Strategy] (1993; 25.68mb)
National Invasive Species Strategy
see Invasive alien species in the Austral-Pacific region: national reports and directory of resources [GISP] (2002; 3.75mb)
see also Invasives Species on Pacific Islands [reports] - HEAR / PIER project website
Status Reports: Vanuatu (2004?: 9kb)
Indicators: Vanuatu (2004?: 19kb)
ADB Reports: Vanuatu (2004; 781kb)
Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change [PACC] - reports, activities and PACC news updates
Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change [PACC] - report of in-country consultations
Vanuatu (2009; 158kb)
Peristant Organic Pollutants (POPs): Country Plans
Vanuatu (2003; 496kb)
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention, 1989), the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (Rotterdam Convention, 1998) and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (Stockholm Convention, 2001) together provide an international framework for the environmentally sound management of hazardous chemicals throughout their life cycles.
Ships' Waste Management in Pacific Islands Ports: Country reports
Solid Waste Characterisation and Management Plans
Vanuatu (2000; 290kb)
State of the Environment Reports
Vanuatu environment Profile (2004 ; 360kb)
see also State of the Environment of the South Pacific 2005 (2005; 382kb; see also ~http://www.unescap.org/esd/environment/soe/2005/mainpub/ ~)
see also State of the Environment of the South Pacific 1983 (UNEP: 1983; 1.66mb)
see also State of the marine environment in the South Pacific Region (1990; 3.48mb)
see also Regional perspectives: Asia and the Pacific (UNEP, GEO-4. 2007; 382 kb)
see also the archive of SPREP Country Reports between 1980-1983 as follows:
Vanuatu (1980; 163kb)
United Nations. Common Country Assessments
Vanuatu (2002; 605kb)
see also United Nations. Development Assistance Frameworks 2003-2007:
Vanuatu (2002; 429kb)
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED: Brazil, 1992)
Country Reports : Vanuatu (3.11mb)
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992) and the Rio Declaration highlighted the need for sustainable development-socially responsible economic development that protects the resource base and the environment for the benefit of future generations. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was one of the outcome instruments of the UNCED process, also highlights the need for conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
see also Country profiles compiled by the Secretariat for the UNCBD.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was one of the outcome instruments of the UNCED process, highlights the need for conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (Land Degradation) (UNCCD)
Second National Reports: Vanuatu (2002; 468kb).
Third National Reports: Third National Reports: Vanuatu (2007; 702kb)
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is an agreement to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
(i) National Communications and In-depth Reviews
Vanuatu (1999; 583kb)
(iii) National Action Plans on Adaptation (NAPA)
Vanuatu (2007; 7.2mb)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC,1992) is concerned with global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels that may result in the flooding of coastal areas, and submerging islands, which could adversely affect coastal communities. The treaty aims at reducing emissions of greenhouse gas in order to combat global warming. Although the treaty as originally framed set no mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual nations and contained no enforcement provisions; it did include provisions for updates (called "protocols") that would set mandatory emission limits. The principal update is the Kyoto Protocol.
World Summit on Sustainable Development [Rio+10 - Johannesburg 2002]
National Assessment Reports:
Vanuatu (2002; 171kb)
The WSSD Plan of Implementation calls for the management of the natural resources base in a sustainable and integrated manner. In this regard, to reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation as soon as possible, it is necessary to implement strategies which should include targets adopted at the national and, where appropriate, regional levels to protect ecosystems and to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, while strengthening regional, national and local capacities.
The Johannesburg Declaration and the Plan of Implementation arising from the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD, 2002) reconfirmed the commitment of States to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development-economic development, social development and environmental protection-at the local, national, regional and global levels.
Reports available online from the SPREP Library and IRC database
Reports available online from SOPAC [Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission]
Reports available online from ReefBase Pacific
Vital Roads - Epi Island, Vanuatu. Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) Project
Dugong in Vanuatu
- This sea creature is a dugong, which we filmed underwater while it fed on sea grass in a remote bay in Vanuatu. Images of dugong set to music.
Overview of the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area [Vanuatu]
- This video describes the local creation of a novel marine governance institution in Vanuatu which strengthens local initiatives, but has the ability to deal with larger-scale threats and marine resource challenges.
Saving Nemo - Vanuatu
- Since the success of the film 'Finding Nemo', demand for tropical fish has soared. But the seas of the Pacific are literally being emptied to feed this frenzy. Tropical fish are now virtually worth their weight in gold. "Everybody wants one because of this Nemo film," explains SRS Manager Larry Dacles. His company has a monopoly on tropical fishing in Vanuato, home to some of most popular tropical fish in the world. Former workers claim it got this monopoly by bribing government officials. In just three years, SRS has alienated local tourism operators, who depend on the tropical fish as an attraction, scientists, fear an ecological disaster in the making, and the traditional owners of the reefs. "They take anything and everything," complains one local. "It's out of control." Already there has been a 50% fall in tropical fish from the reefs. Now, it's not so much a case of finding Nemo as saving him.
Sea Turtle Tagging on Nguna and PeleVanuatu
- Describes how sea turtles are caught, tagged and released by the Vanua'Tai monitors on Nguna and Pele islands in Vanuatu.
Vanuatu - Tropical Aquarium Fish Harvest Pt 1 , Pt 2, Pt 3
- Vanuatu is a haven for snorkelling, reef and wreck diving, and sport fishing. Since the success of the film 'Finding Nemo', demand for tropical fish has soared. But the seas of the Pacific are literally being emptied to feed this frenzy. Tropical fish are now virtually worth their weight in gold. "Everybody wants one because of this Nemo film," explains SRS Manager Larry Dacles. His company has a monopoly on tropical fishing in Vanuatu, home to some of most popular tropical fish in the world. SRS has alienated local tourism operators, who depend on the tropical fish as an attraction, and the traditional owners of the reefs, and scientists who are fearing an ecological disaster in the making. "They take anything and everything," complains one local. "It's out of control." Already there has been a 50% fall in tropical fish from the reefs. Now, it's not so much a case of finding Nemo as saving him.
Nguna-Pele marine protected area
The Nguna-Pele MPA , winner of the 2008 UNDP Equator Prize, is a local, indigenous, non-governmental organization made up of sixteen communities on two islands dedicated to the sustainable use and long-term existence of marine and terrestrial resources. It is the very first of its kind in Vanuatu and currently serves as a model for other island-initiated conservation efforts nationally and throughout the South Pacific. We strive to ensure that our people retain access and use of the diversity of marine species of Vanuatu through proactive conservation, resilient management, and locally-appropriate awareness.
Webpage includes access to databases , images, sound recordings and species accounts.
Wantok Environment Centre - Vanuatu
The Wantok Environment Centre (WTEC) is a national environmental non-government organisation incorporated in Vanuatu as a charitable association. Its mission is the care and protection of Vanuatu's natural environment, recognising its importance for all forms of life, for present and future generations and in the sustainable development of the country.
WTEC's primary concern is representing the interests of rural communities and families directly involved in the conservation and/or sustainable management of Vanuatu's natural environment and resource. The organisation also has an education programme in schools, is engaged in promoting sustainable income generation (particularly low-impact tourism) and is involved in species specific conservation and research in-line with national and provincial priorities.
SPREP Library and IRC collection [SLIC] - includes online full text access to a wide range of Pacific environment materials.
The Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Virtual Library - full text publications from SPREP, SOPAC, SPC and other CROP agencies, Pacific govt. environment depts. , regional institutions, and NGOs active in the area of environment conservation.
SPREP's International Instruments' webpage
"International instruments relevant to SPREP's work in the areas of Sustainable Economic Development, Ecosystems Management, Climate Change, and Waste Management."
Academic literature and research