Posted by: africanpressorganization | 22 June 2011

World Bank to support urgent biodiversity conservation in Madagascar

 


 

 

World Bank to support urgent biodiversity conservation in Madagascar

 

 

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Additional

financing of $52 million will protect 30 national parks, three newly

protected areas, and encourage long-term community development for 90,000

households

The World Bank s Board of Executive Directors today

approved additional financing to continue the Bank s support to the environment

sector in Madagascar, a country that is home to some of the world s most unique

and threatened biodiversity. The financing, amounting to US $52 million, will

support conservation efforts in 30 national parks and three newly protected

areas, covering some 2.7 million hectares of land.

 

Madagascar is one of the world s poorest countries but is endowed with some of

the world s richest natural assets, said Haleh Bridi, World Bank Country

Director for Madagascar. The biodiversity in Madagascar is a globally

significant resource and an irreplaceable public good. We can t walk away from

protecting it.

 

Financed by the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank s fund

for the poorest countries, and including a $10 million grant from the Global

Environment Facility (GEF), the additional financing will fund conservation,

community development, and ecotourism activities over the next three years

across conservation areas managed by the independent Madagascar National Parks

(MNP).

 

The additional financing has been approved in the context of a two-year,

socio-political crisis in Madagascar that has exacted a heavy human, economic,

and environmental toll. Since March 2009, the World Bank s program in

Madagascar has been on hold due to its policy for dealing with de facto

governments that come into power through means not provided for in the

country s constitution.

 

The project in need of additional financing was scheduled to close on December

30, 2011. The additional financing approved today by the World Bank will cover

the costs of avoiding further environmental deterioration as a result of the

political situation.

 

Conservation costs money and our support will help protect the island s unique

flora and fauna, both now and in the future, said Jamal Saghir, World Bank

Director for Sustainable Development in Africa. It is important to note that

this additional financing was approved as an exception on environmental and

humanitarian grounds given the global significance of Madagascar s biodiversity

and the needs of the communities living near the parks. This does not signal

the World Bank s reengagement with Madagascar, but signals our recognition that

the environmental and social costs of inaction are just too high.

 

The financing will focus on surveillance and control activities in the

protected areas, but a large part will be devoted to tackling poverty in remote

rural communities around the protected areas where 200,000 households live in

absolute poverty. Approximately $15 million will be dedicated to activities to

help these households improve their wellbeing and become more actively engaged

in the management of protected areas. In addition, the funding will support the

creation and operation of sustainable financing mechanisms through the

development of ecotourism, ecosystem services payments, and a $10 million

contribution to the capital of an endowment fund whose interests will finance

core costs of national parks management

 

By improving the livelihoods of people living near the parks, we also improve

the sustainability of the parks and help ensure the protection of the plant and

animal species living in them, said Jean-Christophe Carret, Senior

Environmental Economist, Madagascar Country Office.

 

The financing will also be used to set up mechanisms to ensure that, in the

future, Madagascar s national parks become more independent in managing costs

and less reliant on external aid. Increased support to the Foundation for

Protected Areas and Biodiversity, as well as for tourism development and carbon

finance, are key to financial independence, Carret added.

 

Taking into account the local political context, a detailed evaluation of

financial management risks has been undertaken and measures to ensure the

control and monitoring of funds have been built-in. Financing will not be

provided directly to the Government of Madagascar, but will be channeled

through independent entities. Additional safeguards are in place to ensure that

the Government of Madagascar plays its part in protecting the national parks

and enforcing the national legal framework that prohibits the exploitation or

exportation of illegally logged timber.

 

The Bank retains the right to suspend disbursement should the Government renege

on its commitment. This clause will help ensure that the project facilitates

improved environmental governance in Madagascar.

 

The project combines environmental conservation objectives with social

safeguards and community engagement, said Bridi. Working closely with civil

society partners and the independent Madagascar National Parks Authority, we

are committed to helping current and future generations preserve nature s

unique bounty found only in Madagascar.

 

SOURCE 

The World Bank


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