The DIDEM Thematic schools

Component B - Capacity building and trainings

Samuel Razanaka during the thematic school in Mahajanga @Xavier Koenig

Multi-disciplinary schools for a variety of profiles

The multi-themed schools are an important opportunity to exchange and pass on theoretical and practical knowledge. They help build participants' knowledge and skills, and create a community of coastal practitioners in the Indian Ocean islands.

In DIDEM, three schools will be organized. They are aimed at scientists, but also at participants from other sectors (associative, private, public) who work directly or indirectly on the evolution of marine ecosystems and have expertise, knowledge and skills that complement the scientific approach.

Today, it is becoming necessary, through these training sessions, to bring these different environments together, on the one hand to engage in dialogue and understand the approach of each of the players, and on the other hand to learn from the different sectors' expertise.

Three schools within DIDEM

Reef heritage resilience

Seychelles, June 10 -14 2024

The main aim is to compare the different knowledge, representations and ways from different disciplines about a) assessing the resilience of reef ecosystem; b) considering coral reef as a natural heritage, c) building a coral social-ecological system. Following an integrated approach, bridging the final goal is to put coral reef heritage as a cross cutting body of analysis and management.   

Coral reef @IRD Pascale Chabanet

This thematic school will explore the concepts of resilience, vulnerability, heritage and social-ecological system from the perspective of sustainability science. It includes a section of presentations offered by various experts in the fields of anthropology, biology, ecology, fisheries, geography, governance, socio-economics in order to present the state of the art and lay common theoretical and methodological foundations, introduce fieldwork and initiate debate.

A critical component is offering a hands-on experience, carried out on the ground field in small interdisciplinary groups, where participants from different backgrounds and skills are encouraged to apply methodologies from different disciplines to promote exchanges (ethnographic surveys, fisheries system approach, monitoring of coral reef habitats and populations, social representation analysis, …).

Public: Students and scientists with a multidisciplinary approach given priority, coral reef managers, NGO experts of the Western Indian Ocean region motivated by an experience that goes beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The selection process takes particular account of the numerical balance between the various disciplines and between genders, a guarantee of success for the objective pursued. Speakers representing a panel of experts from different disciplines will enable in-depth exchanges between senior and junior researchers thanks to the different life and research experiences that will be shared.

Shared governance of Marine Protected Areas in the Indian Ocean: how to involve populations in the co-construction of sustainable futures?

Comoros, April 2024, in partnership with Mohéli National Park

Coastal obvservatory in the Moheli National Park @ Nourddine Mirhani

The Lisbon Conference on the Oceans and the Kunming-Montreal Conference on Biodiversity reaffirmed the objective of designating 30% of terrestrial and marine areas as protected areas. Beyond this figure and the extension of protected areas, the stakes are threefold:

  • To make existing protected areas more effective in terms of ecological and social benefits, so that they become laboratories for co-viability between humans and non-humans,
  • Design governance systems for new areas that meet both sustainability and environmental justice criteria,
  • Better link protected areas, the blue economy, integrated coastal zone management, integrated watershed management and integrated marine spatial planning.

One of the main difficulties is to translate objectives conceived in the international arena to the local scale, which implies close collaboration between public authorities and coastal communities in order to co-construct scenarios in an inclusive way, taking into account the differentiated visions of stakeholders, in socio-ecosystems characterized by the mobility of human and non-human populations.

These challenges are particularly acute in the Western Indian Ocean, governed by the Nairobi Convention, where economic, biodiversity conservation and social justice objectives can be antinomic, often to the detriment of vulnerable populations and jointly governed socio-ecosystems. The insular nature of all the countries in the IOC zone adds further constraints that are difficult to overcome in terms of economic viability, water balance and vulnerability to coastal erosion.


  • Reflection and sharing of practices and experiences (both good and bad) between MPA managers, researchers, NGOs and land managers to improve MPA governance.
  • What approaches and tools are available to MPA managers to encourage dialogue with coastal residents?
  • Which MPA models can best ensure the sustainability of marine and coastal socio-ecosystems?
  • What lessons can be learned from experiences of concerted management of marine protected areas in the region and elsewhere?
  • How can we better link biodiversity conservation with the three pillars of island economies: agriculture, fishing and tourism?
  • How can we draw up a territorial diagnosis and develop a territorial outlook in terms of waste reduction and vulnerability to coastal erosion? 

These are just some of the questions that will be addressed, based on concrete examples of marine protected areas in the WIO region and around the world.

Environmental accounting and ecosystem services, a discussion forum 

Mahajanga, Madagascar, September 3-8, 2023

Laurent Robison during the thematic school @Xavier Koenig

Faced with the destruction of biodiversity, it is becoming urgent to make political and management decision-makers, as well as the general public, aware of the value of nature and the costs that its destruction entails. Is it enough to talk in terms of "natural capital"? Or should we be more precise, and detail the "ecosystem services" that this natural capital renders to human populations? Other questions are just as fundamental: what values and costs are we talking about? At what spatial scale are these values and costs measured?

For 6 days, 30 scientists, decision-makers and protected area managers took part in the DIDEM thematic school: "Environmental accounting and ecosystem services, a debate in progress". Classroom and field sessions marked a week rich in exchange and learning. 

The approach adopted during this summer school makes extensive use of interdisciplinarity, by allowing dialogue between scientists and managers, and feedback from experiences in Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Gabon. Diverse disciplinary profiles are involved in the training: ecologists, biologists, agronomists, hydrologist, economists, geographers and remote sensing specialists, and decision makers. 

The workshop site chosen for this summer school is the mouth of the Betsiboka River and the adjacent Antrema biocultural area. This area is home to one of Madagascar's largest mangroves, managed as part of four coastal protected areas, the in the Betsiboka delta embedded in its estuary, Antrema, the Mahavavy delta and the Baly Bay. Two days were dedicated to field work in the Betsiboka delta among islets colonized by mangrove and in the Antrema protected area.

Three countries of South West Indian Ocean are targeted by this summer school: Madagascar, Mauritius and the Comoros. In each of these countries, ecosystem service assessments and environmental accounting exercises have been carried out. Examples were also be drawn from Gabon, an African country where the issues are similar to those in the Indian Ocean.