The two countries share a common history and culture as well as a long standing friendship. The cooperation between these two territories follows the framework set by the Cooperation Agreement between Vanuatu and the French Government, initially signed in 2002 and renewed every 4 years since.
This agreement covers 6 main cooperation areas :
- Sustainable economic development including Agriculture;
- Education, Francophonie, Training and Youth Professional Integration;
- Research and Technology Transfert;
- Youth and Culture;
- Good Governance.
Since 2016 and at the Prime Minister’s demand, the Government of New Caledonia and France’s support in terms of cooperation mainly focuses on Education with an emphasis on Higher Education (and even more specifically francophone Higher Education), Vanuatu’s main national development priority.
A mission of economic diplomacy led by the President of the Government of New Caledonia in early April 2016 enabled New Caledonian private sector actors to initiate numerous contacts in various sectors, including water and agriculture. Since this high level visit, the links between the two countries have been strengthened and led to the signature of Joint Cooperation Plan, which opened new perspectives on 3 March 2017.
In total, the direct financial aid provided by the Government of New Caledonia to Vanuatu amounts to 50 million XPF (420 000 euros) on average per year. This support is provided through cooperation envelops included every year in New Caledonia’s budget:
- the envelope dedicated to the cooperation with Vanuatu;
- the Bilateral Cooperation Fund
- The Pacific Fund New Caledonia.
- the on-going professional training of Vanuatu’s French-speaking teachers in partnership with la the ESPE, UNC and IFM-NC ;
- the support provided to the INTV (the Vanuatu National Technology Institute) to structure technical teaching in partnership with New Caledonia’s Vice-Rectorate;
- the opening of a digital campus to support distance learning;
- but most importantly, the support provided to francophone Higher Education in Vanuatu : Bachelor AES (Administration, Economic, Social), Master SES ( Economic and Social Sciences), Master ADTO ( Planning and Development of Oceanian Territories) and soon a Bachelor in « Tourism » These projects are undertaken as part of a close partnership between the University of New Caledonia and Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training.
In December 2016, New Caledonia received an envelope amounting to 700 000 Euros (83.5 million XPF) as part of the FICOL (Funding Facility for French Territorial Collectivities), a cooperation instrument of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), to fund the building of the first phase of Vanuatu’s future national bilingual university. In addition, New Caledonia will provide a 35 million envelop to support the building of this project, which is perfectly consistent with the numerous actions undertaken by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training, the French Embassy in Vanuatu and the University of New Caledonia to promote Francophone Higher Education in the country.
- The ORSNET network: monitoring real-time seismological network interconnecting Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Salomon Islands, Fiji and Samoa. The close cooperation between Vanuatu’s Geohazard Department and New Caledonia’s IRD allowed the ORSNET Center to become a Center of Excellence.
- The support provided to the Health sector: training of midwives, funding of shifts for medical staff in isolated islands, Yearly Health Center renovations through operation Castor on different islands of the archipelago, in partnership with the FANC (New Caledonia’s Armed Forces).
- The cooperation between New Caledonia and Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam: on 13-14 March 2015, Category 5 cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, killing 11 and affecting thousands. During this crisis situation, the Government of New Caledonia approved the provision of a 47 million envelope for the deployment of an intervention unit tasked with assisting the population with the recovery and securing the passage for humanitarian aid.