Collaborative Leadership for Change is what we need

by Hervet Randriamady, Madagascar, ELP 2015
Written on July 27, 2015.

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Madagascar takes the lead on the environmental protection across the globe. In 2015, the Malagasy government adopted a decree that bans both production and imports of plastic bags. Most importantly, Madagascar President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, has officially announced to triple Marines Protected Areas (MPAs) at the IUCN World Park Congress 2014 in Australia. Despite this great initiative, I am still very concerned about how the increase of MPAs will affect the livelihoods of the population. Could the increase of MPAs in Madagascar be detrimental for local communities’ livelihoods?

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A study carried out by Goefrey Mwanjela (2011) in the Mnazi Bay Marine Park in Tanzania, “The Myth of Sustainable Livelihoods,” has concluded that the implementation of the Marine Park did not lead to a positive result on the livelihoods of the local communities. Villagers rejected the Marine Park. Communication between villagers and park officials failed. Furthermore, park officials put more attention to the marine conservation rather than to the livelihoods of the local communities. I hope that the same issue will not happen in Madagascar with the implementation of the new MPAs in the coming years. Thanks to the Collaborative Leadership for Sustainable Change course to address the aforementioned issue. Indeed, throughout this course, I have realized how important a negotiation is when parties have different interests, and how difficult it is to find consensus. During Susan Carpenter’s lecture, we have been exposed to a negotiation scenario. Each ELP fellow has been assigned to a specific role representing stakeholders such as a farmer, park manager, and an ecotourism representative who all have an interest in a specific natural park. At the end of the negotiation, each of us made a concession and agreement with an exchange of promise.

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In sum, on the brink of the implementation of the new MPAs in Madagascar, the Malagasy government should organize a wide consultation for local communities living around those future MPAs. Most of the time, the implementation of any kinds of PAs—terrestrial or Marine—failed due to the lack of communication between stakeholders. A top-down decision usually happens without the consent of local communities. A negotiation must take place that includes all stakeholders, thus no parties would be left out. In other words, local communities should be part of any decision-making process thus the implementation of the new MPAs will succeed.