Alex Rose-Innes

In a media statement, Marie-Chantal Uwanyiligira, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Madagascar, had just announced a 50 million USD agreement between the Bank and the African island.

This landmark agreement would address poverty in forest-dependent communities while at the same time reduce carbon emissions brought about by deforestation and forest degradation. It is predicted that this drive would see a reduction of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide from Madagascar’s rainforest-rich eastern coast.

According to Uwanyiligira, the Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) is crucial to put this small African island on the road to reach the continent’s ambitious climate change targets and address poverty. The World Bank estimated that 75% of the Madagascan population live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day, according to an inventory in 2019.

The government of Madagascar had already agreed to all plans and programmes to re-green the island, restore its forest landscapes and reward those who embark on an environmental enhancing way of life. Baomiavotse Vahinala Raharinirina, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in the country, said that the redistribution of money would be done with fairness, but mostly the financial injection would be applied to reduce pressure on the island’s unique biodiversity.

Madagascar boasts more than 11,000 endemic plant species which share the environment with a vast a range of mammal, reptiles, amphibians and insects not found anywhere else in the world. It is the only country where seven species of the baobab tree is found. Over the last decade, scientists had discovered more than 600 new species on the island, which included 41 mammals and more than 60 reptiles.

The Emission Reductions Programme (ERP) had been so designed as to increase agricultural productivity, improve soil quality and conserve water resources. The area to mostly benefit from the ERP covers 10% of the country in total, stretching across 7 million hectares along the eastern humid forest eco-region. It is home to more than half of Madagascar’s biodiversity-rich rainforests which are threatened by agricultural expansion.

The programme would build on the country’s current integrated agriculture system to address the direct and indirect causes of deforestation and degradation and protect critical watersheds. The World Bank said the ERP would reinforce and educate communities on conservation and forest management and build on forest-friendly agro-forestry value chains.

Madagascar is the fifth African country and only the eleventh globally to reach this milestone forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF.) To date, the total global governmental financial assistance is more than 550 million USD. ERPA’s are innovative instruments geared towards sustainable land management and further assisting countries with alternative sources of climate financing. These resources provide new opportunities to conserve and regenerate forest landscapes and biodiversity while supporting sustainable economic growth, critical for Madagascar’s development going forward.

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society and Indigenous Peoples’ organisations focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, the sustainable management of forest and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. These activities are referred to as REDD+. Launched in 2008, the FCPF had to date worked with 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. As many as 17 individual donors had made made contributions and commitments totalling USD1.3 billion.