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What does it mean?

An essential component of human development

Biodiversity is crucial to the reduction of poverty, due to the basic goods and ecosystem services it provides. Through the provision of biological resources and ecosystem services, biodiversity is an essential component of human development.

More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, while over 1.6 billion people rely on forests and non-timber forest products for their livelihoods. Habitat degradation and the loss of biodiversity are threatening the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people living in dry and sub-humid lands. Strategies to protect biodiversity must therefore be developed for achieving poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Through Article 6 (b), the Convention invites Parties to “integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies”. This concept is often referred to as “biodiversity mainstreaming” and should be implemented through the National Biodiversity Strategies and Actions Plans (NBSAPS). Both are keys to the realization of the 2010 Biodiversity Target and to the successful implementation of the Convention.

Governments of all Parties are committed to this target "(...) to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth".

Biodiversity is an essential resource not only in responding to climate change, but also in reducing poverty. Environments that are richly diverse in plant and animal life provide communities with a range of options with which to sustain livelihoods (…)”.

Kemal Derviş,
Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Environmental wealth - natural resources - is one of the main sources of growth in developing countries, and central to the livelihoods of poor people”.

Hilary Benn, Minister of Development, United-Kingdom

"National biodiversity strategies and action plans are the basic tools for translating the three objectives of the Convention at national level and the vehicle par excellence for integrating biological diversity into development processes".

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Biodiversity and the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Millennium Declaration in September 2000. At the turn of the millennium, world leaders adopted a set of 8 measurable, time-bound goals and targets to reduce poverty, hunger and disease. Although Goal 7 of the MDGs is that of ensuring environmental sustainability per se, most MDGs touch upon biodiversity in an indirect manner. As such, wise use of biological resources and ecosystem services is important for the full range of development priorities encompassed by these objectives.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) integrate the 2010 Biodiversity Target to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss in its goal 7 on environmental sustainability. Biodiversity is also important to the achievement of other MDG targets for the year 2015.

Biodiversity loss results in important reductions in the goods and services endowed by the earth’s ecosystems. Let’s just think of the provision of goods from natural resources: food, raw materials or medicine; or of services such as pollination or nutrient cycling. They all contribute to economic prosperity and human development and are indispensable for achieving the MDGs. In most cases they are central to our very survival.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme