Poverty eradication

Sustainable Development Goal 1

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Overview

While the benefits of biodiversity are important to all people, some benefits are especially important to the poor and to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples. Achieving the three objectives of the Convention - the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources - can reduce inequality and support efforts to eradicate poverty.

Poverty is not simply the result of low income, but also reflects a deprivation of basic requirements for human well-being. The poorest populations are the most dependent on ecosystem services for food, clothes, medicine, fuel, shelter, income and other basic needs. To the poor, the goods and services provided by ecosystems, underpinned by biodiversity, often constitute the basis of livelihoods and social security, and provide insurance against risk, particularly food security risks, risks from environmental hazards and health risks.

Recognizing the link between ecosystem services and the well-being of the poor implies that biodiversity should be a priority in national and international efforts to address poverty reduction. It is essential to protect poor people’s rights to access ecosystem services and renewable natural resources. When appropriately handled, tackling poverty and creating economic opportunity go hand in hand with protecting biodiversity.

Challenges

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. It is important to strengthen the rights of poor people over land, resources, ecosystem services and the benefits that arise from their management, as well as traditional knowledge. An emphasis should be placed on locally-based environmental management, ensured access to resources, land reform and acknowledgment of customary tenure.

Globally, we need to better communicate to all stakeholders, in concrete terms that are easily understood, the importance of biodiversity to poverty alleviation and development. Stakeholders already involved in the integration of biodiversity and development should disseminate good practices and lessons learned, so that others can learn from their experiences.

It is also important to promote access to genetic resources (of plants, animals or micro-organisms) and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from their utilization to promote the sustainable use of biodiversity and to contribute to poverty alleviation and development.

Essential services provided by biodiversity, such as carbon sequestration or clean water, need to be considered in economic decision-making. For example, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), undertaken in a pro-poor manner, can provide a mechanism for people who protect ecosystem services, including poor communities living in biodiversity-rich regions, to receive payment from those who benefit from the services. Concrete efforts are still needed to incorporate the protection of ecosystem services into poverty eradication and development strategies. The integration of biodiversity into poverty reduction programmes is still weak.

Messages

  • Poverty is multi-dimensional with several inter-linked aspects, some of which are related to biodiversity and the natural environment.
  • More than 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depend directly on biodiversity and ecosystem services for their subsistence. A 2010 estimate found approximately 35% of the total rural population in developing countries to be living in extreme poverty.
  • Biodiversity is crucial to the alleviation of poverty, due to the basic goods and ecosystem services it provides. Degrading natural resources and ecosystems will limit our ability to reduce poverty and ensure inclusion now and for the generations in the future.
  • Biodiversity mainstreaming into development strategies and programmes is essential to poverty eradication and development. Policies that may cause a deterioration in the natural environment need to be identified and their impacts ameliorated, such as economic policies that fail to factor in environmental issues, including poorly designed subsidies, and certain land management and tenure systems. In particular, the right of the poor to land and other natural resources that underpins their livelihoods is not always secure.
  • Better managed biodiversity and natural resources can strengthen the resilience of poor rural households and their livelihoods to natural hazards, by both reducing the likelihood of natural hazards and offering resources to cope with them. Improving management effectiveness of protected areas including through diversifying governance and promoting sustainable use can support poverty alleviation.
  • While biodiversity does not directly contribute to all sectors of development, such as infrastructure or mining, sustainable development cannot be achieved if biodiversity is compromised by development efforts.
  • Protecting biodiversity, including through effectively managed protected areas, helps in climate change mitigation and adaption, as a range of ecosystems act as buffers against natural hazards, providing valuable yet under-utilized approaches for climate change adaptation, enhancing natural resilience and reducing the vulnerability of people to floods and the effects of land degradation. These ecosystem services improve the sustainability and economic efficiency of built infrastructure, and are critical for sustainable and resilient urban areas.