The extractive industries sector has expanded worldwide in recent decades. Investment decisions are usually made by companies located in industrialized countries. But the main sites of mining activity have shifted to emerging economies and developing countries. This is the case in Madagascar, where 30 major extraction projects are ongoing – in areas that are traditionally used by subsistence farmers and pastoralists.
Of course, the extensive mining investments bear potential for economic growth at the national level. But the negative impacts on ecosystems, people, and local economies are often ignored.
Of the world’s large mining operations for metals, for example, about one-third are located in or around 10 km from protected areas. While the consequences for water, soils, and air are far-reaching, most studies focus solely on biodiversity loss in the immediate vicinity of mines.
Studies also show that the resettlement of village communities to make way for mining projects can have grave social consequences, ranging from loss of livelihoods to marginalization and health problems. In addition, the large-scale projects attract labour migration. The resulting “frontier urbanization” can destabilize local societal and political processes.
In response to these sustainability concerns, virtually all investor countries require implementation of environmental and social impact assessments. But despite various international standards, numerous problems remain unresolved. These include:
Five ongoing or planned major mining projects involving international investors: These could be the project’s future study areas.
In Madagascar, a hotspot of global biodiversity, problems associated with the extractive industries have increasingly given rise to political, economic, social, and ecological challenges over the past two decades.
Concrete solutions are thus needed to make international investments in major mining projects more sustainable.
Accordingly, the research project “Governance processes and impacts of extractive industries in Madagascar” is pursuing one main objective: that of generating scientific and practical transformation knowledge to enable more sustainable mining investments in Madagascar and other developing countries.
The project seeks to do this by answering the following research questions:
This transdisciplinary project uses the following methods:
Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS)
Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland
International Institute for Sustainable Development, Canada
University of Antananarivo, Madagascar