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By Barbara Dreaver in Port Vila

Vanuatu is in celebration mode after winning a significant battle on the world stage over climate change.

In a United Nations resolution spearheaded by Vanuatu, the world’s top court will now advise on countries’ legal obligations to fight climate change.

It also means the International Court of Justice can advise on consequences for those countries which do not comply. The resolution was passed overnight on Wednesday.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau was ecstatic. He was in New York for the vote.

He called it a “historic resolution” and the beginning of a new era in multilateral climate co-operation.

“I celebrate today with the people of Vanuatu who are still reeling from the devastation from two back-to-back cyclones this month caused by the fossil fuels and greenhouse emissions that they are not responsible for,” he said.

His country is still picking up the pieces from Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin, which struck within a couple of days of each other earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has been in Vanuatu looking at what support New Zealand can give — and ensuring help gets to those who need it.

She has witnessed first-hand the climate challenge that the people are facing. Mahuta said New Zealand had supported Vanuatu’s drive to get the UN resolution across the line.

NZ’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta . . . “”We have to acknowledge Vanuatu’s leadership.” Video: 1News

“We have to acknowledge Vanuatu’s leadership,” Mahuta told 1News.

“It’s not really the size of the country, but it’s the size of the vision, and Vanuatu’s voice has clearly put front row centre an aspiration to have the ICJ recognise the impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries.”

Accompanying New Zealand’s delegation is a 10-member Pasifika Medical Association PACMAT team. They will be based at the Aotearoa-funded Mindcare Mental Health facility for the next 28 days helping those traumatised by the two cyclones.

New Zealand has announced $12 million to add to a funding pool for the region to help people get back on their feet quicker after the disaster.

In Vanuatu, New Zealand is offering $18.5 million for a clean drinking water project, $4 million for tourism recovery and $3 million for general budget support.

Barbara Dreaver is 1News Pacific correspondent. Republished with permission.

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