Forest4Climate&People film showing and panel discussion facilitates open dialog across diverse stakeholders
The event included a screening of our film 'Voices from the forest : putting local people at the heart of decisions about tropical forest', followed by a rich panel discussion. The panel included representatives from the wide diversity of sectors relevant to conservation: academia, local communities, an NGO managing protected areas, an NGO focused on environmental law, and government representatives from three departments (the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and the Ministry of Land Management and Services). To often people talk to their own peers and to other people with similar backgrounds and views. This event aimed to break down such barriers and facilitate better understanding of the challenges, to allow genuinely novel solutions to emerge.
The event started with a passionate opening speech by Dr. Tahiana Ramananantoandro, in charge of research at the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques by emphasizing the importance of conservation and forest restoration in fighting against climate change and their role in reducing poverty.
We then had a screening of our film ‘Voices from the forest’. The film is excellent at really drawing out local view about how forest conservation as a nature-based solution to climate change can be more effective and equitable.
The panel discussion was chaired by Dr. Sarobidy Rakotonarivo and included the following excellent speakers.
Rinah Razafindrabe from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, shared his perspective with an emphasis on the current reform of the national safeguard policy around protected areas in Madagascar (our Forest4Climate&People team are involved in supporting this process). He emphasized the key challenges for the ministry in ensuring theses reform deliver on the expected positive impacts. The reform has started in 2020 and one of the key points in the reform to adopt a landscape approach in managing natural resources and this implies that local communities must be considerate as full partners in conservation.
Léon Razafindralaisa from Madagascar National Parks talked about the main challenges MNP have to deal with as there are also in the process of reviewing their social safeguard policies to mitigate and offset any negative social impacts from the establishment of protected areas.
Jeannie Raharimampionona from Missouri Botanical Garden shared with us her experience in managing protected areas but also how the theme from the film were resonating with the sites they manage. She emphasized the importance of how conservation should be just and equitable especially by giving local communities a way to get their voice heard. She also spoke of how it is essential for collaboration across sectors as conservation organizations cannot be responsible for delivering development in the regions where they operate. These regions often face many development challenges and collaboration across sectors will be essential.
Lié Maminiaina from the Ministry of Land Management and Services talked about the issue regarding tenure. She highlighted how Malagasy people are so attached to the land and that land tenure was complex but that resolving the challenges raised in the film was going to be essential to deliver effective and equitable conservation. Protected areas in Madagascar are under the tenure of land with specific status; however, the policy has not been officially adopted. As a result, people are confused on how the tenure system works. She suggested that it is necessary to work with the local tenure office to set the coordinates of each protected area to secure it.
Stefana Raharijaona from Natural Justice presented the role of the civil society in conservation but also but also their work in empowering local communities in managing natural resources as well as in securing local communities’ rights. Their work includes training local communities on laws and legal texts regarding natural resources by working with legal sector.
Avotiana Randrianarisoa from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock talked about how the two ministries (MEDD and MINAE) need to work better together to truly overcome sectoral silos and achieve more on the ground. She highlighted that upscaling the uptake of more sustainable farming techniques, especially among forest-edge communities, will be key to sustainable forest management.
Professor Zo Rabemananjara from the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques discussed about how to make a better use of research and engage better with policy to ensure more lasting and positive impacts both on forest conservation and the lives of rural communities. He emphasized the need of a platform or a system that makes research ‘ready to use’ and resonates more with decision-makers.
Finally, Dolimon Andriananntenaina, a representative from one of the local communities where Forest4Climate&People have worked and who was a key figure in the film reminded us how important the role of local community is in managing forest. Despite their motivation in protecting forest, local community still needs supports for their livelihood and thanks to the film they are delighted that their voices can be heard by the world.
The event was followed by a lively Q&A session with the audience. Then, we had a great closing reflexion in Malagasy by Julia Jones by stressing the importance working together to achieve a fair and equitable conservation. Finally Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo, a world famous artist and an environmental activist shared with the audience her experiences and reflexion from the film and the collaboration between researchers and artists is one way to make research accessible to everyone. She said “She is really grateful to Forest4Climate&People for producing the film because there are not many films which give local communities to express their need and to make their voice heard. Artists and researchers should work together to make research more impact full and publicly accessible.
You can watch the full recording of the event here.