Since 2015, GRET has been working to protect coastal areas on Sainte-Marie island in Madagascar. Ismak Ado Crophe Beassou, mayor of the urban commune of Sainte-Marie, spoke to us about the main issues relating to preservation of the environment and development of the island.
How would you describe the condition of the environment on Sainte-Marie island?
It is a fragile environment experiencing increasing levels of pressure. However, the situation is not catastrophic. Our forests, corals and aquatic life are relatively well preserved. But, although these natural resources exist, they are nevertheless under threat. For example, with regards the marine ecosystem, local fishing – I’m not talking about industrial fishing – is beginning to leave its mark on the environment, in particular with the deterioration of corals. Similarly, exploitation of timber for the construction of housing and the use of fuel wood for cooking are being to pose a threat for forests. However, we can be glad that, for the moment at least, we have not experienced exploitation of natural resources at industrial level. Nevertheless, even at local level, we have observed an increase of pressure on the environment.
What are GRET’s main achievements in Sainte-Marie?
GRET supports and implements practices to advance sustainable development. On Sainte-Marie island, GRET plays a “supporter” role.
These achievements are the result of common work with the platform for consultation and support for sustainable development (in french) (PCADDISM), the commune, all of the administrative authorities and NGOs supporting development. They are geared towards our overall objective, which is to implement strategic and sustainable development. In concrete terms, we want to make Sainte-Marie a touristic island while at the same time facilitating development of the population, in particular via the circular economy. I am optimistic about the achievement of these objectives.
How does GRET include the local population in the implementation of its projects?
On Sainte-Marie island, GRET works directly with the population and is constantly collaborating with the authorities. GRET includes local populations in the projects it conducts, in particular thanks to its technicians and its experts, who live and work directly with the population, even with the most isolated communities. This joint work aims to find solutions for development of local communities and sustainable preservation of the environment on Sainte-Marie.