The purpose of this assessment report is to identify a way forward for environment statistics and environmental-economic accounting in Vanuatu. It provides guidance for initiating statistical development towards improving decisions related to sustainable development and green economy. It is based on existing national policy documents and a national technical assessment of environment statistics. This assessment report aims to capture the policy priorities, institutional framework and capacity needs for Vanuatu to engage in such development. It concludes by identifying priority sectors for environment statistics, and actions for improving these statistics over the short to medium term. The assessment takes into account views of key national stakeholders. The support of UNESCAP in preparing this report, and training provided to national counterparts contributed immensely to progress to-date and will facilitate implementation plans going forward.
Linkages to relevant policy and planning initiatives
1. Vanuatu National Sustainable Development Plan
The vision statement in the Vanuatu National Sustainable Development Plan (VNSDP) is “A Stable, Sustainable and Prosperous Vanuatu”. It demands careful and comprehensive measures to address the environmental challenges at hand. As environment is recognised as a cross-cutting policy issue, a robust information system is needed to develop and monitor sustainable development policy interventions. The Prime Minister’s Office administers a system of annual and six-monthly reporting and relevant environment indicators and data are necessary for informed decision making. Key areas in the environment pillar of the VNSDP linked to statistics need include: agriculture production; forestry; fisheries; energy; waste, water, land; and ecosystems/biodiversity.
2. Vanuatu National Strategy for the Development of Statistics
The Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO), in consultation with national stakeholders, has published a strategy for development of statistics. The Strategy outlines a number of areas where environment statistics are of interest and need to be compiled including: biodiversity; extractive industries; chemical use; water resources; conservation areas; waste management; and emissions.
3. Other relevant sectoral policies
A number of sectoral policies contain elements of environment sustainability to achieve broader national development priorities, these include: Vanuatu National Energy Road Map; Vanuatu Agriculture Sector Policy; National Oceans Policy; Vanuatu Strategic Tourism Action Plan; and National Waste Management Policy. Key components of these policies and plans relate to: sustainability of each sectoral priority; direct and cross-cutting linkages to development priorities; infrastructure and capacity issues in supply; efficiency and effectiveness of production over consumption demands; and medium-term needs and plans to address existing challenges. In this context, these sector policies and plans have a component of monitoring and evaluation which require data and can inform the statistics production processes coordinated by VNSO.
Relevant global initiatives
There are many relevant global initiatives that include the promotion of system environmental-economic accounting (SEEA) for better environmental monitoring and accountability. In particular, two most relevant include: the Sustainable Development Goals; and the SAMOA Pathway for sustainable development in Small Island Developing States. A number of proposed SDG indictors can be measured systematically using guidelines in the SEEA.
INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OVERVIEW
Vanuatu has a centralised statistical system, with the VNSO having the legal responsibility to coordinate the production and dissemination of official statistics… In recent years there has been increased recognition given to statistical activities and the importance of “statistics informed” policy, resulting in increased resources dedicated for quality, timely and reliable statistics throughout the VSS [Vanuatu Statistical System] (VNSDS 2016-2020).
Current compilation and publication focus is on economic and social statistics. However, the Vanuatu Strategy for the Development of Statistics includes plans in several areas of environment statistics. VNSO management and key stakeholders such as Prime Minister’s Office are committed to development of environment statistics in the short-to-medium term (i.e., within three years).