Vila Times

UN helps Vanuatu to prepare for sea level rise by mapping exposure

Vila Times’s Mobile Application

Innovative ICT solutions are helping Pacific Island countries prepare for and adapt to sea level rise brought about by climate change. This project provides the fundamental data, skills and tools at-risk communities need to make planning decisions. It trains government decision makers to use online tools and flood maps to understand and mitigate the risks of sea level rise. Using these maps, governments can better understand and communicate climate change risk to local communities and put adaptation plans in place.

195 people from the governments of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were trained on how to manage and use LiDAR data.

The Vanuatu Globe was a significant Open Data portal produced for the Vanuatu Government and set a new precedent for publically sharing sea level rise information.

Through the Vanuatu Globe, the project was able to help the 2015 Cyclone Pam recovery by providing critical map information which was accessed by more than 1,000 people a day within days of the cyclone.

To address the lack of ICT awareness and use by key government decision makers, the project focused on creating intuitive and user friendly applications that would optimize use and availability. The Australian Department of the Environment, the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) and NGIS Australia (NGIS) spent four years working with Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, to build capacity in spatial information modeling and decision making through Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and aerial imagery surveys, geographic information systems (GIS) training and the provision of hardware and software.

The project provided fundamental information, reports and analytics that have enabled the countries to clearly identify the communities most at risk of sea level rise and to then facilitate effective planning and decision making to increase climate change resilience.

Fit for purpose capacity building was delivered for each country with a focus on long-term sustainability. Upgrades to GIS for each government were performed where necessary to ensure the data could be accessed, managed and stored. The hardware and software upgrades ensured a seamless integration with existing non-spatial business systems upon project completion.

Open platforms were delivered to optimize the availability and access of the accurate datasets and sea level rise models to implement effective community engagement and to maximize the cross-government cooperation with respect to climate change mitigation. Since the delivery of the Vanuatu Globe, the platform has been viewed more than 15,000 times by hundreds of users to deliver the most accurate and up to date modelling and information across Vanuatu. A key strategy was to use Google-based mapping technology, which was already familiar to the end users.