A public validation workshop was held in Antananarivo on 6-7 May 2015 marking the successful completion of the UN-REDD Programme-supported Country Needs Assessment. Madagascar is the first country to conclude this exercise and presented its results at the 14th UN-REDD Programme Policy Board Meeting held in May, in Washington, DC. As part of this assessment, the government of Madagascar and its partners took stock of challenges and achievements, and explored ways forward addressing identified needs on critical issues for the national REDD+ process, notably in the field of national forest monitoring system, land tenure and collective vision and dialogue for REDD+.  

Assessing the status and needs of the REDD+ vision and inter-sectorial dialogue proved to be an innovative and powerful exercise.  As early as 2008, Madagascar was among the early REDD+ movers, but the momentum was stalled by political unrest from 2009 to 2013. During this period, waiting for political normalization, REDD+ technical and on-the-ground pilot activities continued, albeit at a slower pace and mainly led by international non-governmental organizations and other non-governmental partners. Progressively since 2014, as the political situation has stabilized, the government of Madagascar has sought to boost momentum, coordinate partners and stakeholders’ action, and take a new leadership role over the national process. 

The green island of Madagascar has been progressively known as the “red island” after centuries of deforestation during and after colonization. Slash-and-burn agriculture, extraction for fuel wood and charcoal, and demand for building material has brought forest surface down to about 15 per cent of the national territory. Deforestation remains at a relatively high level of 0.45 per cent annually between 2005 and 2010. The expansion of mining activities, demographic growth, and illegal timber trade of such exotic tree species as rosewood has added to the traditional poverty-related drivers of deforestation in a context of weak governance and fragile political infrastructure. In Madagascar, as in many other parts of the world, reducing emissions and enhancing carbon stocks from forests requires a comprehensive, transformational and broadly cross-sectorial approach.

Madagascar’s assessment of needs in terms of national vision and inter-sectorial dialogue was facilitated by two national consultants, supported by an international expert bringing methodological support, under the close supervision of the REDD+ National Coordinator. The task team reviewed all relevant literature about national visions and sector-based development plans, and ran broad consultations across many relevant sectors and stakeholders. Conclusions underscored the multiple understandings and approaches to forests as part of Malagasy society, economy and development. They also highlighted the relative interests, importance and influence of various players, and provided recommendations to allow the Government of Madagascar building on these various approaches and bringing them together into a comprehensive and ambitious vision for the future of Malagasy forests. As a result, the government of Madagascar will draft a converging vision for REDD+, fully embedded into the national development strategy. The government will also update its readiness roadmap, to better own, lead and drive the technical design and policy dialogue, across sectors and stakeholders, towards a transformative REDD+ national strategy.