19 May 2022 - Global

Save the Children signs deal to lead on climate change adaptation in the Pacific where children bear the brunt of extreme weather


Community member in a remote community in Vanuatu holds up a fish. Photo credit: Nikiatu Kuautonga/Save the Children. More content available here

Save the Childrenwill deliver the Pacific region’s largest ever investment in community-based climate change adaptation in one of the world’s biggest climate hotspots, the child rights organisation announced today.

Thanks to a US$32.6 million climate finance deal with the Green Climate Fund, the government of Vanuatu and the Australian government, the programme will help communities in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation of roughly 80 islands, adapt to the rapidly growing threat of the climate crisis. 

Vanuatu is one of the world’s most vulnerable places to the impacts of the climate crisis, at risk of sea level rises that could lead to the disappearance of land, as well as extreme weather events including cyclones, storm surges, landslides, flooding and droughts. Last year, the nation launched an appeal to the International Court of Justice to protect the rights of current and future generations to be protected from climate change.

The Vanuatu Community-based Climate Resilience Project will support 282 communities across the country over the next six years, through boosting access to knowledge; providing technical assistance and equipment to support climate-resilient agriculture and fisheries; and improving livelihood opportunities for rural and remote communities.

The project will directly reach more than 90,000 people, or nearly half of the country’s rural population, across all six provinces in Vanuatu.

Save the Children Australia acting CEO Mat Tinkler said:

“For children in Vanuatu, climate change isn’t some far away prospect, it’s placing them in harm’s way on a daily basis. Children and families in Vanuatu are experiencing increasingly fierce storms, longer droughts and stronger heatwaves.

“To help children to thrive, we need to work with whole communities to adapt to the immediate and unavoidable impacts of climate change. This project will empower some of the most climate-vulnerable communities in Vanuatu to meet the challenges of climate change head-on, so children are protected from the worst impacts of this escalating crisis.

“This is believed to be the biggest locally led climate adaptation project in the world to date, and it is the first of many such projects that Save the Children plans to support globally in the coming years.”

Vanuatu Minister for Climate Change Silas Bule Melvesaid the climate crisis was the biggest threat faced by Vanuatu and was causing devastation in the nation.

“We in Vanuatu know that the world must listen to the scientific consensus and act quickly to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. But we also know that simply reducing emissions is no longer sufficient to ensure communities in Vanuatu are safe from climate change impacts.

“Adaptation is the top climate priority for Vanuatu. For years we have been seeking increased international finance to help our people address these impacts, which they are now experiencing – through no fault of their own. It is positive to see projects like this, which are so needed in Vanuatu, finally receiving funding.”

GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said:

“GCF is proud to partner with Save the Children Australia on this project, which will help highly vulnerable rural and coastal communities to increase their resilience to climate change and to protect their livelihoods with a range of innovative and targeted adaptation measures. It will make a real difference in a country which is being severely affected by climate change.”

The Vanuatu Community-based Climate Resilience Project will be implemented through local government and community organisations, following extensive consultations with affected communities. It aims to build the long-term adaptive capacity necessary to pursue sustainable development pathways across a range of potential climate futures.

Programmes will increase community access to climate information and early warning systems, as part of disaster risk reduction measures. The project will also support locally led adaptation plans to increase food security and build climate-resilient livelihoods, by restoring and protecting coastal areas, enabling women-led enterprises, and supporting climate-resilient agriculture and fisheries techniques.

The Board of the Green Climate Fund approved financing for the project at a board meeting this week. Representatives from the Green Climate Fund, Save the Children and the Government of Vanuatu signed the project agreement at a virtual ceremony at 11pm AEST Thursday 19 May.

Notes to editors:

  • The project is supported primarily by a US$26.2 million grant from the Green Climate Fund. The Vanuatu Government is providing a further US$1.5 million, the Australian Government (via the Australian NGO Cooperation Program) is providing US$4.6 million in co-finance, and Save the Children is providing US$300,000.
  • The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest dedicated climate fund. GCF’s mandate is to foster a paradigm shift towards low emission, climate resilient development pathways in developing countries. GCF has a portfolio of projects and programs across more than 100 countries. It also has a readiness support programme to build capacity and help countries develop long-term plans to fight climate change. The GCF is an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and serves the 2015 Paris Agreement, supporting the goal of keeping average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
  • Save the Children Australia in 2019 became the first non-environmental NGO to be accredited by the GCF, allowing the agency to partner with developing countries and apply for project funding. Save the Children Australia has long been a leader in climate change programming for the global Save the Children movement, and will leverage its significant global network of specialist technical advisers working in climate change, disaster risk reduction, health, water and sanitation, livelihoods, agriculture and food security to develop and deliver climate programs. 

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