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p4ges - Can Paying 4 Global Ecosystem Services reduce poverty?

Rina Mandimbiniaina reflects on her recent experiences through the p4ges project and what she has learnt

Blog post from Rina Mandimbiniaina.
Published 11 October 2017

I’ve been involved in P4ges research project since 2013.  Along this period, I had opportunities to improve not only my research skills in social science but also my abilities to contribute to a big multidisciplinary project and my understanding of the links between ecosystem services and poverty around the world. I have received training in Madagascar alongside the p4ges team but also through ESPA at the social sciences event in October 2014 and at the ESPA summer school in April 2016. I learnt so much from interacting with other ESPA researchers outside the direct p4ges team.

I feel that all of what I have learnt came together when I recently presented our research findings at The International Congress of Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia (the largest gathering of conservation scientists in the world). My talk was entitled ‘who bears the costs of forest conservation?’ and showed that despite generating global benefits, tropical forest conservation in Madagascar as resulted in local costs born by some of the poorest on the planet who are depending on forest land for their agriculture.

My time in Colombia was partly funded by Russell E Train ‘Education for Nature’ Program organised by WWF and partly by p4ges. I attended the side event which was organised by Education for Nature Program-it was very interesting.  EFN symposium gathered all EFN grantees from all over the word and we learnt about the ongoing projects and achievements of past and current fellows and grantees. The talks allowed to understand the challenges when conducting conservation projects and to share experiences. Since, we have started to connect to each other in order strengthen the collaboration between fellows. As part of SCB–Madagascar chapter, I had a chance to meet SCB members from different continents. I participated in different SCB activities during the conference. It has been an opportunity to seek experiences from other SCB members about how they act in their home countries. The experience at ICCB has given me more insights about how we carry out research and conservation projects and how we create collaboration with different partners. More than a simple meeting, the ICCB has been a great opportunity to build connection with other scientists and institutions in conservation area. It really inspired me! 

In September 2017 I was invited to Ghana to represent p4ges at the Consultative workshop on Governance for Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation, in Accra. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss about the lesson learned from ESPA research on how governance affects natural resources and associated benefits, and in way that contribute to poverty alleviation. The attendees came from different backgrounds and are experts on governance, natural resources management. The two days of workshops brought a reflexion about the understanding of the concept of governance through different terms which are used in literature: theories, concepts, definitions and approaches. Also, it allowed to debate about how could use the finding from GESPA to inform policy makers in order to improve the natural resources management. The workshop were alternate by presentation of the topics and working groups which developed the challenges when managing natural resources and how to address these challenges: sharing powers, governance arrangement, scales and involvement of different actors. It has concluded that governance has relevant place to ensure a better management of natural resources.

These different opportunities I had during P4ges project period have had such a huge influence on m as a researchers. They have given me a  much deeper understanding and helped me to be more confident. I can say that my way with P4ges ends (as the project is closing down) here but my adventure in conservation research will continue and I hope that I can contribute more in sustaining the conservation activities which are carried out in Madagascar.