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A high-level Malagasy delegation, led by the Special Advisor to the President and including directors from two ministries, the head of a national civil society platform and the REDD+ national coordinator, visited Costa-Rica 22-24 September to learn from that country’s leadership and bold commitment to forests and green development. The South-South knowledge exchange was supported by the UN-REDD Programme and the UNDP office in San José, Costa Rica.

The Government of Costa Rica warmly welcomed their guests from Madagascar, and organized for the visiting delegation visit several senior government officials, including the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Vice-Minister of Natural Heritage, the Vice-Minister of Sea and Humid Areas, the Director of the BIOFIN project, as well as advisors to the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and representatives of the National Forest Finance Fund, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Center for High Technology. Malagasy officials also had the opportunity to meet with two local rural organizations, landowners participating in the payment for environmental services scheme, and  park rangers of the Carara National Park.

Among key lessons learning that Costa Rica representatives shared with their Madagascar counterparts is the need to create broad and underlying social, economic and political conditions for sustainable development. The delegation of Madagascar was struck by the fact that the intrinsic motivation for protecting forests is widespread across multiple stakeholders in Costa Rica – from decision makers to local communities on the ground. It also had the opportunity to gain knowledge about linkages between the national forests fund and the national scheme for payments for environmental services in Costa Rica, and key factors of success and sustainability including national sources of finance. Costa Rica representatives also noted the value of integrating the national REDD+ strategy into national policies and objectives, and also shared experiences on the topics of legal implications of financial sources for REDD+ and carbon rights, on the design of NFMS, and forest reference level, among others.

The exchange was deemed very successful by both the Madagascar and Costa Rica delegations, as well as very timely for Madagascar, as the government is now initiating a national multi-stakeholder dialogue to formulate its national vision and strategy for REDD+. Delegates from Madagascar said they will now build on the inspiring experiences of Costa-Rica to advocate for bold national policies and measures to protect natural forests and expand forest cover to support development in the country.