World Environment Day: Forest4Climate&People researcher takes part in live TV debate involving the minister of environment and sustainable development

Inspired by World Environment Day, Malagasy TV channel Radio Television Analamanga (RTA) hosted a TV debate (also live streamed on Facebook) about Madagascar’s forests and sustainable development. The high-level panel was made up of Dr. Vahinala Baomiavotse Raharinirina (Madagascar’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development MEDD), Mr. Ndranto Razakamanarina (President of the civil society platform Alliance Voahary Gasy), Mrs Claudie Razafintsalama (from Groupement National des Exploitants Forestiers de Madagascar GNEFM), and Ms. Alexandra Rasoamanana (from Malagasy Youth Biodiversity Network who manages the reconciling Protected Areas with Poverty Alleviation project.

The debate opened with a discussion of how a balance can be found between forest conservation and commercial logging in Madagascar. “Wood demand increases with population growth, increasing pressure on our forests”, said Mrs Claudie Razafintsalama of the GNEFM. To overcome this, the President of the Alliance Voahary Gasy called for a restructuring of the forest and protected areas management system to truly combine rural development and environmental protection.

Issues related to environmental crimes and illegal exploitations were also raised including a discussion of why these are so difficult to tackle. The minister explained that they are working with the Ministry of Justice to combat this scourge. However, Alexandra Rasoamanana (from Forest4Climate&People) acknowledged that the sort of zero-tolerance approach they are taking for large-scale infractions is not the most appropriate approach for forest-dependent populations, particularly those that have been established prior to the establishment of protected areas. Moreover, she emphasized the importance of considering the needs of these forest-edge communities when implementing forest policy.

The very thorny issue of migration was also discussed. The minister acknowledged that lack of investment and infrastructure in the regions, combined with climate change, drives populations to migrate to forested areas. There are issues of stigmatization of migrants and they can add pressure on natural resources, said the Minister.

The second part of the debate focused on the perception of sustainable development by panelists. Alexandra Rasoamanana emphasized the interest that young people have in sustainable development because they are the one who will inherit the future. She said it is necessary to pay particular attention to young people in the elaboration of any public policies. She explained that Madagascar has a young population which will result in further population increase. Ndranto Razakarimanana of Alliance Voahary Gasy explained that sustainable development must combine economic development and environmental preservation and that this requires good governance and the development of a common long-term vision. Finally, Claudie Razafintsalama added that the perception of sustainable development differs from one individual to another, from one community to another, from one stakeholder to another and that a civic education at all levels is needed.

The overall conclusion was that environmental issues should not remain an area for environmentalists. In order to be able to protect the environment and achieve development, it is necessary or even imperative to promote a multisectoral approach, a better inclusion of all stakeholders for a long term and common vision.

Alex Rasoamanana said “Young and local communities are often marginalized in decision making process. This leads to decisions that reinforce inequities and social injustice”.

You can watch the full debate on this link.

Publication date: 12 September 2020