Global equity

Sustainable Development Goal 10

Reduce inequality within and among countries

Overview

Conserving biodiversity is a key way of ensuring a healthy environment, strong communities, a thriving economy and sustainable development. While the benefits provided by biodiversity are important to all people, some benefits of biodiversity are especially important to indigenous peoples, the poor and vulnerable groups. Diversifying the governance and tenure of protected areas and encouraging management and decision making by indigenous peoples and local communities empowers these communities, and allows them to sustain themselves through the sustainable use of the resources. Biodiversity can play a critical role in helping the bottom 40% of the population achieve sustained income growth. Biodiversity, among other things, provides ecosystem resilience and contributes to the ability to respond to unpredictable global changes and natural disasters that threaten to send the most vulnerable deeper into poverty.

Biodiversity also provides genetic resources – genetic material of actual or potential value - the use of which can lead to benefits for both users and providers as long as certain conditions are met. Under the Convention, Parties have committed to work to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources, including under the Nagoya Protocol.

Access and benefit-sharing ensures that the way in which genetic resources are accessed and used maximizes the benefits for users, providers, and the ecology and communities where they are found. Users seek genetic resources to deliver a range of benefits; from basic scientific research such as taxonomy, to developing commercial products which contribute to human well-being, such as pharmaceuticals. Providers of genetic resources grant access to these resources in return for a fair share of the benefits that result from their use. In cases where research and development leads to a commercialized product, monetary benefits such as royalties, milestone payments or licensing fees must be shared with the provider. Providers can also benefit from technology transfer or the enhancement of research skills. Ideally, these benefits will also be used to improve conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity. For developing countries, granting access to genetic resources in exchange for a share of monetary and non-monetary benefits could contribute significantly to poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Challenges

The challenge going forward is to fully address the threats facing biodiversity by all stakeholders. Threats such as pollution, habitat loss, invasive alien species, unsustainable use and climate change have a cumulative impact on biodiversity. If we neglect biodiversity and permit its continued decline, we will undermine the goals of poverty eradication, food security, human health and adaptation to climate change. Biodiversity loss will also undermine society’s ability to generate wealth.

The active participation of local people in natural resource management can be an important development in the effort to conserve forests is through the valuation of forests and the payments for services that they provide. Oftentimes, these payments are given to communities that manage forests, forgoing shorter term, and in many cases, lesser incomes that they could derive from unsustainable forestry practices.

The world economy and national and sub-national economies are also largely dependent on biodiversity and its ecosystem services. Agriculture and food production, fisheries forestry, tourism — all contribute significantly to economic development and all depend on the currently undervalued biodiversity. Many developing countries rely on the export of natural resources such as agricultural commodities, raw materials and ecotourism services. When properly managed and governed, these biodiversity based assets can yield significant economic benefits, ensure “the rich do not turn poor”, and help pave the way out of poverty.

In order to conserve biodiversity while reducing poverty and increasing human well-being and development, biodiversity must become part of government development policies. Likewise, development and poverty reduction need to be an integral part of environmental and biodiversity conservation policies and programs.

Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing can play a key role in poverty alleviation and sustainable development, by ensuring transparency and predictability with regard to the use of genetic resources.

The lack of sufficient financial resources remains one of the main obstacles to achieving the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2012 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets (COP12, Gangwon Declaration). The cost for achieving the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets is estimated at US$ 300 to 400 billion. One of the aims of the third International Conference on Financing for Development that will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13 to 16 July 2015 will be to persuade rich countries to provide more money.

Messages

  • Indigenous peoples, the poor and vulnerable groups are in many cases most directly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystems. To them, the goods and services provided by ecosystems underpinned by biodiversity often constitute social safety nets.
  • In developing countries, natural capital is estimated to be a quarter of total wealth as compared to 13% in middle income countries and 2% in high income OECD countries
  • The management of land and resource use is often more effective when it involves enhancing people’s rights to land, resources, and ecosystem services.
  • Sharing the bene¬fits that arise from their management with local people is also essential for effective biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. In this way, implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing is important.
  • Emphasis is needed on fostering locally based environmental management, ensuring access to biodiversity resources, land reform and the acknowledgement of customary tenure. Programs aimed at the protection of biodiversity and the alleviation of poverty need to also address the human rights of all, and those of the poor in particular.