The Vanuatu Land Use Planning Policy is a national sectoral policy of Vanuatu for the period 2012-2017. Its main objective is to guide land use planning by setting priorities and outlining legislative and institutional settings to enable land use planning that encourages the best current use of Vanuatu’s land resources.The Policy aims to support food security. To this end, it provides for strictly reserving, through legislation or regulation, cultivable and productive land for uses that contribute to the food and agricultural livelihood security of Vanuatu’s indigenous residents.The Policy also seeks to make land use more sustainable. For this objective, it aims to ensure that land use planning processes, guidelines or standards include formal and internationally recognized mechanisms to assess, prevent and minimise damage, risk or loss that occurs as a result of land development or changes to land use; strictly reserve part of Vanuatu’s land heritage for the protection and conservation of rare, endemic or service providing land and seascapes; adhere to and make specific reference to internationally-recognized principles of sustainable development as a part of land use planning and decision-making (e.g. the precautionary principle); and refuse consent for land uses that pose unacceptable level of risk and vulnerability to Vanuatu’s people, livelihoods, infrastructure or ecosystems.Further, the Policy provides for the following measures to enable more inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems: fulfil and enable the role of kastom in determining land use as emphasized in the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu; produce and supply detailed land use capability maps and supporting information to rural land use planning authorities (including provincial councils). The maps and accompanying information must include but not be limited to soils, geology, topography, vegetation, risks and hazards; integrate formal mechanisms into land use planning processes that require key rural sector agencies to share information (including data, operational information and planning expertise); develop guidelines and standards for land use and development in rural areas highlighting land use capabilities, use categories and technical recommendations; decentralize land use decision making and enforcement by local government by specifically referencing provincial and sectoral development plans and priorities (e.g. agriculture, forestry, tourism, infrastructure) in nationally sanctioned land use planning processes; successfully manage land use planning in urban and surrounding areas, including provincial centres; elaborate lease conditions based on and making specific reference to comprehensive land use planning processes; require that land leases unambiguously set out and are guided by land use conditions; revise the standard lease agreement template to include clauses that offer greater recognition of customary land use rights; undertake legislative reform to enable national land use planning to be mainstreamed into land development processes; developing a national policy on use of the foreshore including access to the marine area; legislate and provide guidelines on fees and charges that may be assessed for inappropriate foreshore land use; control some foreshore land use developments; provide capacity building opportunities to the public and specific stakeholders in the field of land use planning; and finally, require that land use planning processes to include stakeholder and public consultation with special attention paid to women, youth, minorities, disadvantaged groups and those who will be most affected by land use development proposals or changing land uses.Moreover, the document also aims to increase the resilience of livelihoods to disasters by requiring that kastom knowledge and practice related to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is incorporated into land use planning activities at all levels; incorporating climate change projections and urban vulnerability assessments in urban land use planning processes; requiring that risk and vulnerability, including that arising from climate change and geological activities, is formally considered in planning processes (such as mandated use of risk assessment tools); and managing vulnerable foreshore areas (e.g. climate change, tsunami, storm surge).Government departments will provide for and implement those parts of the Policy that relate to their operational activities or fall within their areas of responsibility. Government is also expected to support all stakeholders (including non-government and the private sector) with implementation responsibilities under this Policy. Government agencies are required to include policy implementation actions in relevant ministry and departmental corporate plans and report against these annually. The document also plans to establish a central land use planning office within the Ministry of Internal Affairs with a mandate to undertake land use planning in rural and urban areas. Finally, the Policy notes that the Land Management Planning Committee’s role and recommendations will be legitimized and made enforceable through legislative amendment or regulation.
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