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What needs to be done?

Linking Biodiversity, Poverty Reduction and Development

Considerable efforts must be undertaken in all sectors to simultaneously achieve poverty reduction and development without jeopardizing biodiversity and its related ecosystems, goods and services. The following actions should be emphasized by governments to fulfill the international commitments of the 2010 Biodiversity target and the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Strengthen the rights of poor people

Over land, resources, ecosystem services and the benefits that arise from their management, as well as traditional knowledge. Experiences from many parts of the world indicate that this is essential for effective biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. An emphasis should be placed on locally based environmental management, ensured access to biodiversity resources, land reform and acknowledgment of customary tenure. Programs aimed at the protection of biodiversity and the reduction of poverty must address the priorities of the poor.

  • Enhance education and communication

Education, of everyone from children to politicians, increases understanding of the importance of biodiversity to poverty alleviation and development, and therefore plays an important role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, both in the present and in the future. Stakeholders already involved in the integration of biodiversity and development should record and disseminate good practices and lessons learned, so that others can learn from their experiences.

  • Promote access and benefit sharing

Local access to genetic resources (of plants, animals or micro-organisms) and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from their utilization are important to the sustainable use of biodiversity and to poverty alleviation and development. Benefits derived from the research, transformation or commercialization of genetic resources should be shared equitably with the people who have preserved the resources utilized and the indigenous knowledge of their benefits.

  • Develop financial incentive measures

Essential services provided by biodiversity, such as carbon sequestration or clean water, are usually not considered in economic decision-making. Recently, initiatives have begun to put a price on ecosystem services, and introduce financial incentives to encourage the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. For example, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), undertaken in a pro-poor manner, can provide a mechanism for people protecting ecosystem services, including poor communities living in biodiversity-rich regions, to receive payment from those who benefit from the services.

  • Strengthen partnership and collaboration

Although organizations, governments and communities around the world increasingly realize the importance of biodiversity, concrete efforts are still needed to incorporate its protection into poverty alleviation and development strategies. The integration of biodiversity into poverty reduction programmes still appears weak. Nonetheless, efforts already made will only be effective when stakeholders at all levels collaborate by voicing their concerns and priorities and by working in partnership to integrate biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies. This appears to be a good way to align poverty reduction strategies with biodiversity and development issues.

Reducing poverty in developing economies

Reducing poverty in developing economies requires:

  • Policies, investments and reforms to enhance the sustainable and efficient use of natural resources and the production processes on which they depend.

  • Ensuring that the financial returns from more sustainable activities are re-invested in the industrial activities, infrastructure, health services, and the education and skills necessary for long-term economic development.

  • Targeting investments and other policy measures to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor, especially those living in fragile environments.

  • Protecting and improving the provision of ecosystem services on which the extreme poor depend.

From: Edward B Barbier, (2009), A Global Green New Deal (Report prepared for the Economics and Trade Branch, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, UNEP) (PDF)

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme