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Pacific island states and territories are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and have highly uneven adaptive capacities, given their diverse geographic, economic, and social circumstances. These territories are already exposed to a variety of large-scale climate hazards such as cyclones, sea level rise, flooding, salinization of groundwater, land and sea heat waves, and droughts that can cause considerable damage.

Faced with these growing risks linked to climate change, it is essential to organize a coherent and structured response in terms of adaptation to climate change, i.e. changes in the way we do things and live. These action strategies, commonly called National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), have already been implemented in many regions, especially if they are at risk. However, this is not the case in the French Overseas Territories and the Vanuatu plan has not been recently updated.

This project proposes to fill this gap and to produce and identify for these territories a set of data, measures and potential investments making societies more resilient to climate change.

In order to carry out these adaptation plans, however, it is necessary to know the future climate in detail, locally, in order to draw up an assessment of vulnerabilities. Today, some major future climate hazards such as rainfall and cyclones are not well known in this study area. The climate simulations available on a large scale (100 km) are not relevant on the scale of the islands. The climate projections made in the Pacific do not cover the islands (the climate models consider for example French Polynesia as the ocean).

This project, with a regional vocation, aims first of all to develop new data of the future climate (by 2100) and to analyze the sectorial impacts, which is an essential basis to facilitate the formulation of adaptation plans to climate change in Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. On the scientific side, it will be necessary to produce high resolution climate projections (2.5km grid), using the latest global climate models for the Pacific region, which allow the simulation of climate evolution over a given geographical area.

Subsequently, in order to define relevant adaptation strategies at the level of the different territories, the effectiveness of already well documented "scientific and technical" strategies (climate insurance, early warning systems, protective structures) will be evaluated so that they can be complemented by the valorization of traditional knowledge that is especially well adapted locally.

The elaboration of adaptation plans will thus include a step of collecting traditional knowledge, in particular local ecological knowledge, so that it can be valued and transmitted. The knowledge mobilized to adapt to climate change can be know-how in the field of horticulture, fishing or even habitat. It is based on knowledge about the functioning of ecosystems, changes in the environment and landscapes, and the experience of the environment by each individual and each generation.

Indeed, the elaboration of adaptation plans benefits from taking into account the representations and practices of the Pacific inhabitants. Their knowledge and know-how have been developed over the centuries to reduce their vulnerability to climate variability and geological hazards, thus constituting specific risk cultures.

This project will integrate a description and an analysis of local ecological knowledge by taking into account the results of new climate projections to select the sites where data will be collected. This knowledge is a resource that can be used to devise ways of adapting to large-scale environmental transformations, to ensure better collective appropriation and, in the long term, to strengthen the resilience of local communities to climate change.

This regional project with the French Pacific territories and Vanuatu, New Caledonia's immediate neighbor and a long-standing partner of AFD, will strengthen the regional cooperation links that already exist in other areas such as education, health, culture and maritime surveillance with the Government of New Caledonia and the French Government.

Contacts: Fleur Vallet ( Christophe Menkes (, Catherine Sabinot (, Alexandre Peltier (, Sophie Martinoni (, Caroline Edant (, Kim-Lou Cargnelli (, Philippe Roudier (


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