Associate Director – Drought

Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 1

Vili has conducted research and published widely in the field of risk resilience in agriculture, impacts of droughts and extreme events on food security and livelihood, climate-change loss and damage, and evaluation of climate-change adaptations in Pacific Island countries and Small Island Developing States. He was the co-ordinator for the Pacific Regional Centre and a Hub for Technology Needs Assessment for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. He has led and conducted multiple stakeholder engagements with governments, local communities, NGOs, private sector, farmers’ organisations and UN agencies across the Pacific to prioritise technologies for climate-change adaptation and mitigation, develop barrier and enabling frameworks for different technologies and technology action plans for different sectors – especially agriculture, water, costal ecosystems and energy.

Vili joins the Vic Drought & Innovation Hub from the University of the South Pacific (USP), which is a Pacific Regional University, owned by 12 Pacific Island Countries, where he worked for 14 years. Vili’s roles at USP included a Senior Lecturer for Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Response and Recovery and Climate Change and Food Security in the Postgraduate Diploma in Climate Change Program, at the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development. He was also a representative of non-professorial staff to the Senate of the USP.

Vili has led the food-security research group and co-ordinated the USP research team in many research including the:

  • EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Staff Exchange project on Family Farming, Lifestyle and Health (FALAH). This is a research consortium led by the University of New Caledonia, involving 14 research institutions from France, Austria, Germany, Australia and Pacific Islands (Fiji, Solomon Islands, PNG and Vanuatu).
  • ACIAR Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification (CASI) Small Research Activity, which was led by the University of Melbourne, in partnership with the Pacific Community, Lincoln University, farmers organisations, agricultural-based NGOs and governments of Tonga and Samoa.
  • UK Research and Innovation grant for Intervention Co-creation to Improve Community-based Food Production and Household Nutrition in Small Island Developing States (ICoFaN). A partnership led by Exeter University, with partners such as the Cambridge University, University of West Indies, McGill University, the National University of Haiti and NGOs and farmers and local communities from Fiji, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Haiti.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Research “NIHR Global Health Research Group on Community Food for Human Nutrition and Planetary Health in Small Islands (Global CFaH)”. This is a research collaboration focusing on impacts of agro-ecological interventions to improve human and environmental health in Fiji, Philippines, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Haiti.
  • Research collaborations with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (developing a concept note and proposal for the Green Climate Fund for building the resilience of forests in Fiji); World Food Program (developing a Market Functionality Index and Minimum Expenditure Basket for Fiji and Samoa); United Nation Capital Development Fund and UNDP (on understanding the demand for micro insurance as a tool for disaster risk financing (especially for droughts and cyclones) for farmers in Fiji); UNESCAP (developing a policy brief for Ocean Cities of the Pacific Islands) and IFRC (Early Warning Early Action for Droughts and Cyclones, and Green Recovery).

Vili was the chairperson for the research pillar of the Pacific Soil Partnership, which is the Pacific arm of the Global Soil network of soil researchers, stakeholders including from Australia, New Zealand and all Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

He is currently the alternative representative of all Academia to the Pacific Resilience Partnership, which is a Pacific-wide (including Australia and New Zealand) partnership between governments, private sector, communities, NGOs, academia and development partners focusing on building resilience in the Pacific. The Pacific Resilience Partnership is co-coordinated by the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Community.

A member of the Steering Collective of the Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA), which is an assessment led by the University of Canterbury, and the University of the South Pacific, conducted by about 80 authors and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand, Vili is the co-ordinating lead author of three chapters – Food Security and the Climate Crisis; Loss and Damage; and Water Security.

Vili is a member of the Fiji Food Security and Pacific Food Security Humanitarian Cluster supporting disaster response of the agriculture sector across the Pacific Islands, and an active member of the FAO-led Pacific Working Group on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, and the Pacific Councillor of the International Evaluation Academy (IEAc).

Vili comes to the Vic Drought & Innovation Hub having previously worked with Professor Tim Reeves AM, professor-in-residence at the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus, on the ACIAR-funded Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification research in Tonga and Samoa.

Holding a PhD in Climate Change from the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, focusing on transforming Pacific Island Agriculture to a changing climate, Vili has over 52 peer-reviewed publications to his name. Throughout his career, Vili has engaged in teaching, research, training and student supervision across 15 Pacific Island Countries.

Tuvaluan by citizenship, Vili is a Samoan chief – denoted by the title “Lau”.