The Avenue of the Baobabs near Morondava, Madagascar. gemmmm 🖤, Unsplash

Madagascar is open for investment in people and nature

An announcement from Africa’s largest biodiversity trust fund

The Madagascar Protected Areas and Biodiversity Fund (FAPBM) is the largest trust fund for biodiversity conservation in Africa. Along with our closest implementing partner, Madagascar National Parks (MNP), we would like to announce that Madagascar is open for investment in its environment and its people.

The Global Landscapes Forum provides us with an excellent opportunity to learn from other participants about innovative finance instruments relevant to Madagascar, gaining insights that we will share with our colleagues in the Coalition for Protected Areas when we return home. The coalition includes experts who have achieved many successes for Madagascar’s environment and people.

Despite a portfolio of significant funding, the country’s network of 123 protected areas still faces considerable challenges in self-financing. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated this situation with the loss of tourism revenues, increased pressures due to reduced economic output, and increased migration of people from the southern parts of the country.

We will need more investment in the coalition as Madagascar’s economy is unfortunately on a downward trend, and our country also faces prolonged drought and severe cyclones. Countless Malagasy heroes are working daily to ensure that mangrove forests, tropical rainforests and dry forests can thrive and continue to provide the many ecosystem services that the country’s people and economy need. All that is required now is to amass adequate financial resources and political will to build on the successes of coalition members and the many communities across the country’s entire system protected areas.

Established in 2005 by WWF, Conservation International, the German and French development agencies and the Malagasy state, our Malagasy Fund manages USD 139 million USD of capital and provides a critical source of sustainable finance for 64 of Madagascar’s 123 protected areas, covering 5,600,000 hectares of unique biodiversity and productive ecosystems.

Madagascar National Parks was established in 1991 and is one of the coalition partners. An independent association under Malagasy law, it has a mandate from the state to manage protected areas. Today, it works with communities and government partners to manage 43 protected areas, making up 30 percent of Madagascar’s protected areas.

For 19 years now, our Fund has been entrusted by important bilateral and multilateral donors to pursue three main objectives: i) to use capital gains from investments for the benefit of protected areas, ii) to manage grants for biodiversity projects implemented by thousands of Malagasy experts and communities in Madagascar, and iii) to monitor the performance of the funded protected areas. The long-term objective for the Foundation’s financial assets is to generate a net annual return of 4 percent of all expenses over rolling periods of seven to 10 years. As noted in our latest annual report, its performance has been 6.25 percent overall.

The importance of sustainable finance was clearly illustrated when tourism income collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic and as our government worked to support the many affected sectors. Our Fund was able to fill gaps so that MNP could continue their essential work and we could provide emergency funds to support firefighters risking their lives to save our critical forests.

These successes are, of course, great news, as well as the reason why we are so happy with the opportunity provided by the GLF to learn about additional practical ways to provide sustainable finance. There is much more good news to share from Madagascar, but these achievements are not well known outside of the organizations behind them. Through the Coalition, different organizations will progressively align communication efforts behind a new narrative demonstrating the essential values of protecting biodiversity and doing it with communities and local leaders.

The Coalition was launched by the Madagascar Ministry of Environment during the CBD COP15 in Montreal. It is a trusted platform of experts who implement solutions for Madagascar’s needs by managing Protected Areas – the agents of change. Together, the coalition members will intensify their efforts to significantly enhance the support of Malagasy leaders from the policy and private sectors for all 123 protected areas in Madagascar.

Because our coalition partners have excellent relations in the country, and a lot of locally relevant knowledge, we believe that the coalition members provide experts and donors gathered here today with an excellent and effective path to invest in Madagascar.

The private sector and governments can invest in Malagasy expert organizations that protect and manage many critically important places across the country and their critical ecosystem services, enabling these unique places to provide a model for integrating conservation with the sustainable development of Madagascar.

For example, FAPBM and MNP have created three accelerator funds to accelerate the readiness of critical marine areas, dry forest protected areas and Madagascar’s World Heritage Sites to receive sustainable finance. Our investment prospectus documents are available through our website.

These accelerator funds will strengthen the co-management of these areas between local communities and the government. By working together to maintain these protected areas, they will serve as agents of change to meet the short-term critical primary needs of local communities and rural economies, as well as offering long-term benefits to the country and the world against the negative impacts of climate change.

By investing in communities’ resilience and the effective sustainable management of natural assets at local, regional, and national levels, we can secure the critical ecosystem services upon which many livelihoods and local economies depend. We can significantly enhance conditions for sustainable economies and rural livelihoods by integrating climate resilience planning into agricultural management policy, as well as coordinating conservation with targeted investments in both soft and hard infrastructure around these critical protected areas.

Through these investments, we will eradicate barriers to effective co-management, paving the way to self-reliant rural and coastal communities and a strong Malagasy economy.

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