Print Article

Madagascar visit highlights for UK MPs/Peers climate vulnerability threats

BGIPU hosted a delegation of Madagascan Parliamentarians from 31 October to 5 November 2022, including President of the Senate HEM Herimanana RAZAFIMAHEFA, President of the UK/Madagascar Friendship Group Hon Maminiaina Solondraibe RABENIRINA, Mr Jean Andre NDREMANJARY, Hon Henri Dominique RAZAKANDRAINY, who were accompanied by Ms Hantasoa FIDA CYRILLE, the Senior Diplomatic Adviser of the President of the Senate.

The programme opened with a presentation by Lynn Gardner, the Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations office on the Westminster Parliamentary System. The Malagasy delegates had many questions on how the Westminster System functions and particularly on the differences from their own system. The group was then given a tour of the Palace of Westminster by Tim Loughton MP, who himself was a delegate on a previous BGIPU visit to Madagascar. The delegation saw both chambers and learned more about the history of the building.

Chair of the BGIPU Harriett Baldwin MP, hosted a lunch in the Chess Room which was also attended by Lord Dholakia and Fleur Anderson MP. A productive discussion led to introductions with French-speaking green investors in the City of London and with an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Water Sanitation and Hygiene.

Following lunch the delegates met with the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Nigel Evens MP, and Senior Deputy Lord Speaker Lord Gardiner of Kimble. The afternoon was spent with the APPG for International Conservation and the APPG for Global Climate Change Goals and Environmental Concerns. There was considerable discussion on COP and the delegates decided to follow up with an introduction to Alok Sharma MP, who served as President for COP26.

Tuesday morning began with a meeting with the Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, and the Clerks of the Committee. Lunch was then hosted by Lord Cromwell and widely attended.

The members then had a long discussion with the Shadow Africa Minister Lyn Brown MP, who also spoke about her constituency work and the work of a backbench MP.  The group spent the rest of the afternoon viewing a sitting session of the House of Lords, including a discussion on COP and was hosted to dinner in the evening by Tim Loughton MP.

On Wednesday morning Dan Carden MP gave an overview of the Public Accounts Committee before the group met with Sir James Duddridge MP who was Minister for International Trade until October 2022 and also formerly Minister for Africa.  The group then viewed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Prime Ministers Questions from the Diplomatic and Distinguished Guests’ gallery in the house of commons before an engaging lunch in Peers Dining room hosted by Baroness D’Souza.

On Wednesday afternoon and evening the group travelled to Wakehurst to see the Millennium Seed Bank. The Millennium Seed Bank is ‘the most biodiverse place on earth’ with billions of seeds from around the world. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership contains over 17,875 collections from 42 African countries with a further 4,062 collections from Madagascar. This represents at least one collection from each of 11,221 species. The group heard about their work in Madagascar and had a fruitful discussion about how partnerships with policymakers can advance conservation projects in Madagascar.

On Thursday morning the delegates met with the BBC World Service and were interviewed on Focus on Africa about the climate driven famine.  The group then travelled to Cambridge and stopped at Bletchley Park to learn about Britain’s role in WW2 and a helpful discussion of Madagascar’s resistance to the Nazi supporting colonial French Vichy Government and how British Soldiers aided in the liberation of Madagascar.  That evening the group tried ‘the best fish and chips in Cambridge’ in a local pub.

During a roundtable discussion with the Cambridge Conservation initiative on Friday morning the group met with representatives of Birdlife International, the Tropical Biology Association and Cambridge Professors of Conservation and Development. The group were very happy with the suggestions for future partnerships.  The group were then hosted to lunch at Christ College Cambridge by the Master of St Edmund’s College, Catherine Arnold, and local MP Daniel Zeichner where they met with the staff of the academic partnership Cambridge-Africa.

BGIPU Secretariat