Mapping the future

Daughter of a farmer on Santo Antão, Cape Verde’s most westerly island, Euda Miranda has had an intimate relationship with the land and nature since early childhood. Later, studying geography at university, she discovered a passion for cartography, spatial management and its representation through cartography.

“I always dreamt of working with GIS and digital mapping. Gathering, analysing and integrating different kinds of data on ecosystems, land-use planning, topography, infrastructure, etc., offers unique insights and enables better decisions about how we use land and resources.”

Undertaking a placement at UFMG ecological station in Brazil as part of her university course, gave Euda the opportunity to engage with all kinds of different people in environmental education, nurturing and developing her communication skills.

And today, working in the cartography and land registry service at Instituto Nacional de Gestão do Território (INGT) – Cape Verde’s leading land planning agency – her dream has come true.

The country is at a new stage in terms of regulations, legislation, planning, land use planning, which is working well, but the biggest challenge is in the supervision of the implementation of land use planning instruments. We are at a level where all interventions in the territory (construction of buildings, infrastructures, etc.) are already regulated through spatial planning instruments! By using our online platform, Spatial Data Infrastructure of Cape Verde- IDECV, Cape Verdean citizens have information on how they should build on their property. Our goal is to develop active citizens, aware of their interventions, for the benefit of a sustainable development of our small and esteemed country. Due to its small dimension and vulnerability, all decisions and interventions must be planned and conscious, so that we don’t compromise the future of the generations to come. INGT does not have an explicit environmental mission, but it does have a great responsibility to ensure a planned and managed territory, aiming for sustainability, valorisation and protection of the country’s resources, for the benefit of its population’s quality of life.

Umbrellas, whales and turtles

West Africa’s coastal wetlands are globally important, home to a diversity of life. Unfortunately, accelerating urbanisation is transforming the natural environment, and in Cape Verde, critical turtle nesting beaches are at risk from inappropriate development – something which Euda and the INGT team have been at pains to counter.

“We’ve just published a new coastal development plan for Boa Vista island. Taking an integrated approach, it covers all land- and marine-based activities – from fishing and sports to tourism and infrastructure. It’s level of detail is fantastic – you can’t even put an umbrella up on the beach without following the rules!”

The first of its kind in Cape Verde, the plan has also set out guidance for activities such as turtle- and whale-watching that were previously unregulated. It’s so ground-breaking that it’s inspired three other islands to develop similar plans. Ensuring all development follows its guidance will be a challenge but Euda is optimistic.

“Getting agreement on the plan from all the different government departments with an interest in coastal development took a lot of dialogue. We created a big committee and had to make the process very participatory to build trust and make the case for the plan. The good thing is that we’ve now got strong relationships to do good things for Boa Vista.”

All for one, and one for all

As a skilled and determined convenor and advocate, Euda worked tirelessly to bring everyone on board and create unanimous government endorsement for the plan across different Ministries – from fisheries, spatial planning and infrastructure, environment and agriculture to tourism, transport and maritime economy.

“As part of process, we ran a public consultation. Normally we don’t see much participation but working together with local NGOs – which was a first for INGT – we saw a lot of community engagement, including from young people. Now everyone in Boa Vista feels the plan was made for them! It’s a great result.”

There’s no doubt that Boa Vista’s new coastal development plan is a positive result for coastal ecosystems. Alongside, Euda and the INGT team are engaged in strengthening regulatory frameworks and helping a range of stakeholders, including training the coast guard and producing practical guidance for the private sector and communities on nature-based solutions and green infrastructure.

Boavista (c) C Karibuhoye

Boa Vista is very special to me. It’s a beautiful island but very vulnerable. Big hotels on turtle nesting beaches are a problem. And informal housing driven by poverty, and sea-level rise are a threat. We need a collective effort to protect our natural and cultural heritage. There’s so much potential if we just work together. For the future of Cape Verde and for a better world, I give my heart. I will do anything I can to help future generations!

How is Euda helping deliver MAVA's mission?

Find out more about how Euda and the INGT team are helping deliver MAVA’s action on regulating coastal infrastructure development in West Africa.

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