Planning Our Ocean Future – A First Step for Vanuatu

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Vanuatu is leading the Pacific, in terms of ocean management. It is the first country in the region to have an integrated, holistic Ocean Policy. This Policy allows for cross-sectoral coordination and collaboration to maintain and enhance the cultural, social and economic values that we, the people of Vanuatu, derive from our ocean.

The Director-General, Ministry of Climate Change, Meteorology, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Management said, “An integral, novel and innovative part of our Ocean Policy is the development of a nation-wide Marine Spatial Plan for our ocean. This Marine Spatial Plan will identify areas where certain developments should be promoted, areas where certain uses should be controlled, it will separate conflicting uses and identify special areas that need protection from extractive uses. The Marine Spatial Plan will also help uphold and support traditional marine resource management systems.”

Acting Director-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade said, “In the launching of the Ocean Policy in 2016, the Acting Prime Minister committed to a Marine Spatial Plan, which includes a network of Marine Protected Areas, by 2020. These commitments are also reflected in Vanuatu’s Voluntary Commitments at the United Nations Ocean Conference.” Recently, the government invited ocean experts, users and managers to help lay one of the first, and the most important, foundation stones for Vanuatu’s proposed Marine Spatial Plan.

At the workshop, held at the Climate Change Conference Room on Thursday 20th July, government and non-government experts helped to decide what types of ocean zones Vanuatu wants to have in its Marine Spatial Plan.

Ocean zones, in the sea, will work the same as zoning on land. On land, decisions are made about which part of the land should be a road, which should be an airport, a rubbish dump, an industrial area, a town, a protected area. These kinds of decisions are often codified into integrated and spatial land-use and zoning plans.

98% of the country of Vanuatu is sea, and yet, so far, integrated spatial planning for our ocean is missing. We are an ocean nation. Our future lies in our marine resources and so cross-sectoral forward planning for their sustainable use is imperative. And a standardised, understandable and sensible set of ocean zones is a big part of this planning exercise.

Discussions at the workshop guided the government’s future decisions about what kinds of uses should be allowed, and where, in our ocean so that not just we, but our children, and our children’s children can continue to derive benefits of the marine bounty of Vanuatu.


This workshop was supported by the Government of Vanuatu and the MACBIO project, funded by the IKI program of BMUB, implemented by GIZ with technical support from IUCN and in close collaboration with SPREP. If you would like more information, contact Mr Vatu Molisa, MACBIO Project Liaison Officer, Department of Environment and Conservation:;; or 25302.

Participants at the Ocean Zone Typology Workshop, Port Vila, 20 July 2017

Participants at the Ocean Zone Typology Workshop, Port Vila, 20 July 2017


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On July 20, 2017

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