Great Big Green Week 2024: The view from Madagascar

Henintsoa leading a session on reducing plastic bag use

Several of Jesuit Missions’ partners, operating in some of the world’s poorest places, are disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change. Henintsoa Nary Mihamina, from the Centre Arrupe in Madagascar, explains how she and her colleagues are tackling this.  

At the Centre Arrupe Madagascar (CA MDG), we operate as a training and research hub, whose mission is to promote the search for sustainable solutions to problems in Malagasy society.

We have four programmes with a primary focus on Environment and Sustainable Development, Citizen Participation and Economic Efficiency, Health and Family, and Research and Documentation.

In light of ‘Great Big Green Week’, CA MDG aims to showcase its deep commitment to environmental sustainability.

Eco-awareness initiatives

The CA MDG hosts an annual ‘Green Weekend’ event, during which a reforestation campaign is carried out.

In 2024, the seventh edition of this event, the weekend focused on the environment: the initial day centred on awareness initiatives, workshops, conferences, and environmental awareness contests, while the following day was dedicated to reforestation efforts (with approximately 1000 to 3000 seedlings planted). To ensure the continued success of this reforestation campaign, regular monitoring of the plantations is conducted every three months.

Annually, we organise an ecological day, where everyone takes part in greening the area around the centre. Last year, we focused on our garden.

Staff were encouraged to collectively watch The Letter, a film that calls for action to preserve our common home and foster brotherhood with the most vulnerable. This served as an opportunity to heighten everyone’s awareness of environmental stewardship in the face of the challenges posed by climate change.

Furthermore, collaborators are regularly reminded to reduce the use of plastics and paper in all their activities, and everyone tries to apply this behaviour.

A Green Weekend held by the Centre Arrupe in 2022

Small changes, big impact

Significant global consequences can be caused by everyone’s minor actions such as the use of single-use plastic bags, disposal of cigarette butts, chemical usage, excessive consumption of plastic-packaged products, and leaving chargers plugged in when not in use.

These seemingly trivial habits can have substantial impacts on the environment. Furthermore, in Madagascar, certain human activities are worsening this decline, including deforestation, intensive mining and logging, traditional slash-and-burn cultivation known as tavy, harvesting of firewood and charcoal, overfishing, and bushfires.

These activities collectively contribute to hastening environmental degradation. Madagascar is bearing the brunt of this environmental damage, as evidenced by the following examples:

Madagascar has some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems

Considering all these realities, CA MDG offers training and awareness sessions on eco-responsible behaviours and capacity building for climate resilience. All our environmental awareness initiatives are geared towards educating people on incorporating eco-friendly practices into their daily routines.

Image: Unsplash/Yasmine Arfaoui

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