ANTANANARIVO – Environmental justice efforts are critically important to save Madagascar’s unique biodiversity from irreversible destruction.
On November 17, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) convened a roundtable workshop to address environmental injustices and promote the wise and sustainable use of the country’s precious natural resources.
Environmental justice ensures efficient enforcement of environmental laws, effective sanctions in response to environment-related misconduct, and equitable sharing of benefits from environmental resources.
“Forests and natural habitats are disappearing, fauna and flora are threatened with extinction, and communities suffer injustice that leads them to break the law to survive,” Agathe Sector, USAID’s Environment Office Director, said in remarks at the workshop. “Despite commendable efforts to reverse this trend, impunity, corruption, and lack of enforcement stand in the way. Legal frameworks exist, but their application is insufficient. The need for rigorous, fair, and equitable natural resource management is a critical aspect of good governance in Madagascar today.”
During the workshop, representatives of the public sector, CSOs, and conservation NGOs joined together to evaluate the effectiveness of Madagascar’s environmental legal framework, call for revisions to national policy, identify necessary strategies, and highlight the need for more effective implementation of existing programs. Participants also endorsed several environmental justice resolutions and developed a clear action plan for organizations engaged in this essential work.
Stakeholders like the Tafo Mihavo network of natural resources managers and the Study and Research Group on Primates of Madagascar, Solidarity of Land Stakeholders urged representatives from the ministries of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Justice, Land Management and Land Services to address critical issues such as the transfer of natural resources management to local communities and the relevance of existing laws and regulations.
They also underscored the important link between land tenure and environmental justice, and how natural resource management practices, such as protection of drinking water sources, affect human health. Specifically, the recommendations called for decentralization of law enforcement and empowerment of communities through the dina, and adoption of new land use legislation.
Through its Hay Tao environmental governance project, USAID supports Madagascar’s public institutions to develop policies and enforce environmental and land laws to improve the legal framework for natural resource governance.
The United States stands side by side with Madagascar like “mpirahalahy mianala” to help safeguard the country’s unique biodiversity. Since 2013, USAID has committed more than $60 million to promote sustainability, improve livelihoods for communities, bolster governance of natural resources, stop wildlife trafficking, and protect forests from illegal exploitation.