While the Bonn climate recesses, organized with the aim of preparing the agreement to be approved and adopted at the Paris conference (COP 21), come to a close this 11 June, we interview the negotiator from Madagascar, Dr. Hery Rakotondravony.
What are the consequences of climate change in Madagascar?
The impacts of climate change in our country are more and more severe. During the last cyclone season, floods covered 35% of the surface area of the valleys near the capital, Antananarivo. There is a very clear link between catchment area protection and flooding. The forests that used to supply the island’s large towns and cities no longer exist today. During the last cyclone season, the intense runoff speed due to deforestation caused three dykes in the capital to give way, and several measures were taken to limit the possible loss of human life owing to landslides or falling rocks and trees. This is intensified by the fact that over 50% of dwellings in the capital are built in areas at risk from flooding. Our coastal towns are also particularly vulnerable to climate change. With the sea level rising, Madagascar’s coastline is being redrawn. The water resources are getting rarer because of the warmer climate, and some towns can no longer meet the water requirements of their inhabitants. Diego Garcia and Antananarivo are two examples. Waste management is becoming an urgent issue to deal with. Lastly, diseases such as malaria are making their home on the Central Highlands, whereas before they were restricted to areas at lower altitudes. Risks are high in rural environments. Our country, an island, started growing apart from the African mainland 80 million years ago, so the biodiversity is fragile, and agroecology, biosafety and biosecurity are major challenges. The policy of our government must be strongly pro-development, with the onus on managing towns prone to fall victim to flooding, urban and forest policies.
What measures is your country taking and what do you anticipate for your national contribution (INDC) in the context of the COP 21?
The country has been given a National Climate Change Coordination Bureau within the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology, the Sea and Forests. This new organizational structuring enables us to encourage coordination and partnerships in the cross-disciplinary field of climate change. While preparing our national contribution [author’s note: Intended Nationally Determined Contributions] we organized two preliminary workshops: one intergovernmental and the other open to all stakeholders (civil society, NGOs, universities). Regional workshops are going on in six large Madagascan towns to continue the process of identifying initiatives, as is a national validation workshop. Our INDC is being prepared with help from the French Development Agency (AFD). The latter will take into account the results of these workshops, that we would like GRET to take part in and allow us to benefit from its experience. We are planning on focusing our adaptation on five priority sectors (agriculture, healthcare, water resources, coastal areas and forests and biodiversity). Since 2012 the priority is to perpetuate the public infrastructures (especially roads) in the face of the consequences of climate change. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, forestry and energy have been identified as the two most polluting sectors. Agriculture also produces a great quantity of emissions due to the traditional way of growing rice in Madagascar (rainfed lowland rice cultivation).
What experience do you have with energy and natural resources?
In Madagascar we are undertaking initiatives to stop or limit climate change, but we lack communication and visibility. For example, two adaptation projects are starting up and another project is being put together devoted to bringing hydroelectricity on stream in rural areas, which is one of our priorities. We are going to develop the energy sector above and beyond the renewable energy initiatives we have been carrying out over the last 10 to 15 years. We see – as do our research partners – a network covering the whole of the country’s territory. Obviously, we cannot talk about energy and not talk about natural resources, especially forests. One of the priorities of our new minister, Mr Ralava Beboarimisa, is the massive reforestation of Madagascar. The annual charcoal requirements of the capital Antananarivo are in the region of 150,000 to 200,000 tons. In Madagascar, 92% of the energy used comes from the biomass whereas we have a hydroelectric potential of 7.8 GW. The issue of land tenure is especially thorny: How can those inhabitants living on plots of land in the mountains be encouraged to protect the resources and create green regions by reforesting? There is no shortage of experience or initiatives in Madagascar, but coordination and the means to perpetuate initiatives is another question.