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Vanuatu - Climate

The climate varies considerably from tropical to subtropical according to exposure to trade winds and elevation. The north is wetter and more humid than the south. The average midday temperature in Port Vila is 29 degrees C. in summer and 25 degrees C. in winter. Both the climate and arable soils are very conducive to the development of land and livestock husbandry. Rainfall averages about 2,360 millimeters (94 in.) per year but can be as high as 4,000 millimeters (160 in.) in the northern islands.

Vanuatu is identified as one of the most disaster prone countries in the Pacific region. Comprising a national population of 250,000; the country regularly experience natural disasters like flooding, volcanic eruptions, landslides, cyclones, sea level rise, fire and disease outbreaks. The archipelago has 80 inhabited Islands with different degrees of susceptibility and capacity to respond to these natural disasters and impacts of climate-change.

Climate change remains a major global challenge for humanity. For Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Vanuatu, climate change remains in fact the most significant single threat to sustainable development. The linkage between climate change and sustainable development is well documented. Without addressing climate change, sustainable development in SIDS cannot be achieved. One direct consequence of climate change is the increase in extreme weather events, which increasingly destroys crops and thus, has an adverse impact on many peoples livelihood. Shortages in food lead cause sharp increases in prices leading to hunger and eventually to humanitarian crisis.

Cyclone Pam, which hit Vanuatu in 2015 has clearly demonstrated this, affecting 64% of the economy and 60% of the population as well as destroying 96% of food crops. Rising ocean temperatures resulting from climate change will also have a big impact on marine fisheries by changing habitat temperatures which will significantly influence their metabolism, growth, reproduction and distribution. Fishery being one of the most important sources of food for many SIDS is thus, threatened. Other impacts that Vanuatu but also other SIDS are experiencing already, include sea-level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification. These developments are not only a risk to food security but also to tourism, which is for many SIDS the most significant sector of their economy. Thus, they threaten the economies and the eradication of poverty, frustrating the countries' efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations is a strong advocate for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that limits the rise in global temperatures to well below 1.5 Celsius. It further, engages in ensuring the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The village of Lataw in the Torres Islands, is subjected more and more to sea incursions. In 2004 this small community of Vanuatu in the middle of the South Pacific had to move several hundred meters back from the shore. The United Nations denoted its 70 inhabitants as possibly the first climate refugees in History.

Most of the population of Torres, but also of the other isles of Vanuatu, lives on the narrow coastal plain. Communities will have to leave the littoral zones most exposed to sea-level variations to settle in the higher areas of these small steep-sided islands, where their ancestors lived still just a century ago.

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