Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Vanuatu: The Art and Practice of Building Resilience to Hazards

Astrid Vachette


This paper1 contributes to the current international discussions on the need to integrate Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) into a comprehensive approach to better, and more sustainably, build resilience to hazards (e.g. Thomalla et al. 2006; Venton and La Trobe 2008; Djalante 2013; UN 2015a, b; UNFCCC 2015 etc.). Building resilience of communities relies on their “ability [...] to resist, absorb, accommodate, and recover from the consequence of a hazard event or of climate change in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of [their] essential basic structure and function” (UNISDR 2009, p. 24). The development of such ability is complex and depends on continuous, consistent, complementary and reciprocal relationships between the agendas, institutions, policies and practices of the different sectors of DRR, CCA, Sustainable Development and Disaster Management (DM). Although these interlinked sectors merge through their impacts on the overriding process of resilience-building, they need to remain independent to enable the development of appropriate and effective structures and expertise in each sector. Therefore it is important to find a complementary balance between integration for a comprehensive approach, and sectoral fragmentation enabling the development of specialised capital. To achieve such a goal, vulnerable small islands (facing local resource limitations, high exposure to hazards and climate change, as well as complex cultural, political, environmental and economic diversity) need to establish complex 1This paper presents results that are part of the author’s Ph.D. research on Networked Disaster Governance in Vanuatu.

A. Vachette (H)

Centre for Disaster Studies, College of Science and Engineering,

James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017 119

W. Leal Filho (ed.), Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries,

Climate Change Management, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-50094-2_7

governance systems to enable reciprocal positive impacts between the development of expertise and resource at a specialised level (e.g. climate change adaptation, disaster management, gender protection etc.), and the development of a comprehensive resilience-building approach. Despite the general consensus on the need to developed integrated and cooperative governance systems, empirical research on networked cooperation for climate change and disaster risks, and its impact, remains rare (Kinnear et al. 2013). The analysis of networked governance systems in practice is essential to increase understanding on these systems and develop more effective strategies to enable this balance between integration for a comprehensive approach, and fragmentation for expertise building and appropriate decision-making. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to utilise the highly at-risk Small Island Developing State of Vanuatu, where a networked governance system was developed, as a case study to better understand the potential of such a system to more effectively build resilience by developing a complex and extensive integrated approach. It analyses how the different mechanisms in place within the Vanuatu Climate Change and Disaster Governance system focus on promoting cooperation across CCA, DRR, DM and resilience-related Sustainable Development, and the impact on the resilience-building process. It was found that, to achieve this, all formal and informal components of the governance system (its structure, leadership and processes) consider and foster the development of an integrated approach through the promotion of cross-sectoral networking.

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