Vanuatu hosts National Climate Outlook Forum just a week after severe tropical cyclone Lola

Vanuatu hosts National Climate Outlook Forum just a week after severe tropical cyclone Lola

Vanuatu felt the full force of nature when severe tropical Cyclone Lola hit the northern and central regions of the country towards the end of October, leaving two dead and a path of devastation in its wake. This unfortunate climate-related event underscores precisely why access to accurate, up-to-date information about Vanuatu's climate is so important.

TC Lola arrived just a week before the start of the Vanuatu cyclone season, which is announced officially each year by the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD) at VMGD's key annual public awareness event, the National Climate Outlook Forum, or NCOF for short.

One week after the TC Lola, the 5th annual National Climate Outlook Forum opened in Luganville. The event was held from Monday 30 October to Friday 3 November in Luganville, Santo.

Every year, NCOF is timed to follow the Pacific Islands Climate Outlook Forum (PICOF), where members of the region’s meteorological, agricultural, and fisheries community gather to discuss the climate and ocean outlook for the seasons ahead. PICOF-13 was held from 23 – 25 October in Nadi, Fiji, and released the regional climate outlook statement for November 2023-April 2024, which can be downloaded here.

Similarly, the Vanuatu NCOF event culminated with the presentation of the National Statement on the Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Outlook for 2023/2024.

The theme of this year’s NCOF was "Climate Information for Resilient Agriculture", highlighting the importance of reliable climate information to ensuring Vanuatu’s food security.

To help get this important information out to the communities around Vanuatu, NCOF brought together stakeholders from around the country to discuss the production, accuracy, and utility of VMGD’s monthly and seasonal climate outlooks. Participants also explored how climate information can minimise the impacts of ENSO on the agriculture sector. 

67 people attended the NCOF—45 men and 22 women. This included members of VMGD's Vanuatu Rainfall Network and traditional climate knowledge network, as well as staff from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

As well as the Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Outlook, NCOF attendees learned  about the VanKIRAP Project's climate information products, and about every aspect of VMGD's work as Vanuatu’s national meteorology and geohazards service. One day was dedicated to climate and agriculture, and included a site visit to Vanuatu’s Agricultural Research and Technical Centre (VARTC).

In addition to the National Statement on the Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Outlook, two important traditional climate knowledge products from the VanKIRAP project were also launched at the conclusion of the NCOF – a national Traditional Knowledge Indicator booklet, and the ClimateWatch mobile app, a citizen science tool designed to help the public share traditional climate knowledge.

Attendees  also learned how to improve agricultural productivity using the climate information provided by OSCAR, a new mobile app developed as part of the VanKIRAP project. 

NCOF wassupported by the Secretariat of the Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through the VanKIRAP Project, and by partners the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology, Earthwatch Australia, and the Global EBA Fund.

The Vanuatu Klaement Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (Van-KIRAP) project is a five-year, USD 22 million project which aims to support climate resilient development in Vanuatu through the development, communication, and application of climate information services to benefit agriculture, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, water sectors and communities. It is funded by the Green Climate Fund and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in partnership with the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and APEC Climate Center.

For more information, please contact Mr. Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, Acting Manager, Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu, at [email protected].

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