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A multi-disciplinary and collaborative project

The Pacific EcoAdapt Project is a five year collaborative research project led by Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

It aims to generate new knowledge at the local level to better understand the interactions of the physical, ecological, social, cultural, economic, policy and governance activities and factors that shape communities' ability to adapt to anthropogenic climate changeanthropogenic climate change Relatively rapid change in the global climate, oceans, and Earth system, brought on by an increase in greenhouse gases from human activity, in particular, the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and agriculture..

It is also investigating the advantages and limitations of different adaptation interventions including ecosystem-based approaches, 'soft' engineering approaches that use natural processes, and 'hard' engineering approaches (such as seawalls) from a systems perspective.

Research Objectives

Key objectives for the research are to:

  • Advance understanding of the natural processes that determine climate change impacts in the coastal zone with respect to sea level rise, storm surges and coastal inundation, and develop simulation models of these processes and impacts under current and future climates;
  • Evaluate the ‘hard’ engineering and technologically-based climate change adaptation responses being currently proposed and implemented and compare these to ecosystem-based approaches;
  • Undertake a micro-economic analysis of the benefit-costs of ecosystem-based approaches and compare these to hard engineered approaches;
  • Investigate what are the current policy and sociological barriers to the uptake of ecosystem-based approaches, identify how these barriers can be overcome by, among other things, providing incentives for community conserved areas;
  • Identify limits to adaptation, including limits to use of ecosystem-based adaptation and where loss and damage is unavoidable; and
  • Develop support tools for policy and decision makers to help ensure that ecosystem-based approaches can be integrated into policy and decision making by governments and local communities particular in the coastal zone of Least Developed CountriesLeast Developed Countries Least developed countries are a list of developing countries that, according to the United Nations, exhibit the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world.

Study Area

Vanuatu and Tanna

The program of research focused on the nation of Vanuatu to explore issues of EbAEbA Ecosystem-based adaptation - an adaptation approach to climate- and environmental-change which primarily deploys ecosystems and ecosystem functions to mitigate risks from hazards. at the local level. Vanuatu faces significant risk from climate change and development pressures. Case studies were conducted in the southern island of Tanna, with the community of Port Resolution in the south-east of Tanna being a key focus. Also Erakor Lagoon and Mele Bay on Efate, near Port Vila (the capital of Vanuatu) were the site for coastal process modelling and water quality considerations. Through partnership with local and national government agencies and organisations, the local-scale of research is helping support more informed, evidence-based planning and decision-making for climate change adaptation.


Research Streams

Research questions

The Pacific EcoAdapt research process was designed to address three key research questions. Answering these questions is fundamental to building our understanding of how climate change  adaptation interventions can be designed to support ecosystem and community functionality, sustainability and resilience in Pacific Island nations.

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Pacific EcoAdapt