Vanuatu is an agriculture-based economy in which 80% of the population depends entirely on subsistence agriculture for their daily sustenance and well-being. Although the other 20% reside in the urban areas, most would still rely on agricultural products from market centers for their daily source of nutrients. With a population growth rate of 2.3%, Vanuatu has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. On the rapidly urbanizing Island of Efate, population growth rate is 3.7%. The 2009 census shows that despite a 30.1% increase in the total number of households from 1999, there has been a considerable decline in the number of households actively engaged in the major cash crop agriculture.
Following the global trend, the service sector of Vanuatu, as in many other small island developing states, grew rapidly over the past years. Yet, this growth is unstable and affects only a small part of our population which is evidenced by the fact that the service sector comprises 70% of Vanuatu's economy while only 30% of the population works in this sector. Thus, it remains particularly important for Vanuatu to increase climate resilience, develop new risk transfer mechanisms for SIDS that increase social protection, diversify the economy and promote integrated rural development. Linkages between the service sector and the agriculture sector must be expanded in order to create greater synergies.
UN Photo: Meltek Sato Kilman Livtunvanu, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, addresses the plenary session of the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2012)