Madagascar gearing up for the meeting of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of UN’s Framework. Credit Lucienne Wilmé

Madagascar's future climate change intensified actions and policy reforms: fostering local initiatives or business as usual?

Jean-Roger Mercier, Yasmin Merali

Abstract


As Madagascar, like all other countries on the globe, is gearing up for the meeting of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of UN’s Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), we reflect on the persistent failure of development policies in Madagascar, and suggest that there may be fundamental flaws in perceptions about development interventions and transferability of solutions, resulting in a country in permanent crisis despite the island’s great potential. The major official donors claim that they had left the island to itself since the 2009 crisis. However, World Bank statistics show that, in current terms, Madagascar was receiving US$400 million in 1990 and US$ 500 million in 2013. In the same interval, the Gross National Product (GDP) per capita remained basically the same (equivalent to 440 US$/capita in 2013). Should COP21 produce a momentum for massive investment in carbon emission reduction and in adaptation to climate change (CC), we propose that, at a minimum, these new projects, plans, programs and policies should aim for sustainability by applying Environmental and Social Assessments at all required levels and that, preferably, this should be the opportunity to approach development differently. In particular, we advocate focusing on enhancing the generative capacity (i.e., the capacity to generate unplanned-for new development options) of Malagasy people to better take advantage of the natural resources and the information and communications technologies (ICT) infrastructure already in place. Such an ambitious program is not without risks and pitfalls, but it is one way of thinking about breaking out of Madagascar’s current self-reinforcing cycle of under-performance. The purpose of this essay is to question the status quo to stimulate discussion and new thinking, short of which observers, 20 years from now, will find themselves echoing the same frustrations that observers and inhabitants alike experience when faced with the present state of development in Madagascar.

 

Résumé

Au moment où Madagascar, comme tous les pays de cette planète, se prépare à participer à la 21e Conférence des Parties (COP21) de la Convention Cadre des Nations Unies sur les Changements Climatiques (CCNUCC), nous considérons les échecs récurrents des politiques de développement à Madagascar pour souligner de possibles biais fondamentaux dans les perceptions des interventions de développement et la transférabilité de solutions, avec, comme résultat, une crise permanente malgré le grand potentiel de l’île. Alors que la plupart des bailleurs de fonds officiels font état d’une cessation de leurs activités dans le pays depuis la crise de 2009, les statistiques de la Banque Mondiale montrent que, en termes courants, Madagascar recevait US$400 millions en 1990 et US$ 500 millions en 2013. Au cours de la même période, le Produit intérieur brut par habitant a stagné (équivalent à 440 US$/capita en 2014). À supposer que la COP21 ait pour résultat des investissements massifs dans la réduction des émissions de carbone et dans l’adaptation au changement climatique, nous proposons que, a minima, ces nouveaux projets, plans, programmes et politiques devraient viser à plus de durabilité en appliquant les Évaluations environnementales et sociales à tous les niveaux requis et que, de préférence, cet afflux de capitaux représente l’opportunité d’une nouvelle approche du développement. En particulier, nous proposons une focalisation sur la capacité générative (définie somme la capacité à générer spontanément de nouvelles options de développement) des citoyens malgaches de mieux tirer parti des ressources naturelles et de l’infrastructure des technologies de l’information et des communications (TIC) déjà en place. L’ambition d’un tel programme n’est ni sans risques ni sans embûches, mais nous estimons qu’il s’agit d’un moyen de sortir du cycle actuel et auto-entretenu de sous-performance qui existe à Madagascar. Cet essai propose ainsi de mettre en cause le statut quo afin de stimuler la discussion et une nouvelle approche. À défaut et sans changement, les habitants comme les observateurs connaitront, dans 20 ans, les frustrations d’aujourd’hui, face à l’état du développement de Madagascar.


Keywords


Environment; Climate Change; Policies; Social learning; Networks; COP21; UN

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Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510