Chargé d’Affaires Stuart R. Wilson
Friday, September 14, 2018, Infinithé Ivandry
His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Ecology, and Forests;
His Excellency the Minister of Aquatic Resources and Fisheries;
Members of Government;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am very happy to be with you today to celebrate the strong and enduring partnership that exists between the United States and Madagascar. Through the efforts of our development agency, USAID, and the generous support of the American people, our government collaborates with the Government of Madagascar, and other development partners in-country, to improve the lives of the Malagasy people. Today we are proud to announce a new chapter in that partnership.
Earlier this year, in March, during the Embassy’s World Wildlife Day event, Ambassador Yamate shared that the United States was relaunching its environment and development program after a long hiatus. Today, after many years of effort to bring U.S. environmental assistance back to Madagascar, we are proud to launch USAID Hay Tao and USAID Mikajy.
The U.S. Government, primarily through USAID programming, has a long history of supporting environmental protection in Madagascar. While the Embassy and USAID have provided environmental and conservation assistance in more limited ways over the past nine years, we are thrilled to be relaunching a sizeable program in this sector. In addition, we are glad that we can now expand our support beyond the conservation of terrestrial zones and into marine and coastal zones as well. This new element of our support contributes directly to the Government of Madagascar’s Promise of Sydney goals to expand marine conservation.
The U.S. Government understands the economic value of conservation. Our own national parks system is treasured by the American people as an important part of American identity. They generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, benefiting a wide variety of businesses and providing an important economic anchor to many rural communities across our country. These are towns and families that would be much poorer without the income streams coming from protected areas.
The unique wildlife, landscapes, and seascapes of Madagascar are as iconic as those found in the United States. For example, Madagascar has the amazing Tsingy de Bemaraha and its collection of wildlife, while the U.S. is home to the Grand Canyon and its unique animals and plants. Just as Madagascar has the beautiful rainforests of Masoala, rich with diverse wildlife, the U.S. has the lush temperate forests of the Great Smoky Mountains. In both countries, the role of local communities, as key partners benefiting from the economic rewards of these areas, is a critical component to success.
The natural and rich heritage of our two countries also form an important part of our identities as nations. Visitors from around the world flock to see our national treasures, whether they be redwoods in California or baobabs in Menabe. We each possess iconic species – whether they be ring-tailed lemurs or buffalos – that are symbols representing our companies and communities. Clearly, our biodiversity is a part of who we are, and so we need to protect and conserve it, as we protect and conserve our respective cultures.
Once again, we are excited to re-engage with the Government of Madagascar and other development partners in support of Madagascar’s remarkable environmental treasures, and the country’s equally remarkable people, and I can assure you that our commitment is stronger than ever. We look forward to working with all of you here today and countless others across the country to make this important effort together.