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Sudden and slow-onset disasters are increasing features of Ni-Vanuatu life. Disasters can have devastating effects on the livelihoods, physical security and well-being of communities and threaten the survival of socio-cultural systems.

Displacement – temporary or permanent – is a major impact of disasters, exposing people to many risks as they are obliged to leave their homes in search of safety and secure livelihoods. While community, family and kinship are the primary safety nets for Ni-Vanuatu people, disasters can overwhelm the coping capacities of all communities. Climate change, combined with increasing urbanization and other factors, is already increasing the impacts of natural hazards and disasters in Vanuatu and the Pacific region.

In recent years significant developments towards disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation have been made at global and regional levels, through initiatives including the Sendai Framework2, UNFCCC,3 the Paris Agreement,4 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),5 and the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific 2017-2030 (FRDP).6 Increasingly, the importance of responding to human mobility and internal displacement needs has been recognised in these global and regional frameworks. At the national level, Vanuatu’s Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Policy (VCCDRRP) (section 7.6.6) also calls for the “development of a national policy on resettlement and internal displacement”.7 This policy fulfills that mandate, and draws on the principles included in these global, regional and national frameworks to respond to needs of local communities in Vanuatu.

Through mainstreaming displacement and mobility considerations into key sectoral areas of the Government, this policy also takes concrete steps towards achieving the goals of Vanuatu’s National Sustainable Development Plan 20162030, the “People’s Plan 2030”,8 and other national policies relating to water, child protection, gender, agriculture, health, education, food security, urban planning and environment. This policy also works towards operationalizing the protections included in the Vanuatu National Land Use Planning and Zoning Policy 2013 (VNLUPZP),9 and responds to the recommendations made in the Tropical Cyclone Pam – Lessons Learned Workshop Report released in 2016.

Development of the National Policy on Climate Change and Disaster-Induced Displacement has been led by the National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (NAB). The impetus for developing the policy stems from the increasing frequency of requests received by the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation (MoCCA), National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Provincial Governments and other agencies from communities directly affected by displacement. The intensifying need to evacuate people facing flood, cyclones and other hazards, as well as requests for assistance from communities facing eviction and land conflicts, has led the Government to identify a clear policy gap in terms of reducing the triggers of displacement, protecting people when displacement occurs, and addressing the long-term recovery and development needs of communities affected by displacement, including host communities.

To respond to these challenges, the National Policy on Climate Change and Disaster-Induced Displacement aims to help guide emergency and development planners to work together with the Government of Vanuatu to address the needs of all communities affected by displacement, including people at-risk of displacement, displaced people, internal migrants, people living in informal settlements, and host communities.