Society

Sustainable Development Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Overview

Basic social protection may provide incentives for poor people to engage in conservation activities and to shift to more sustainable practices involving environmental management and sustainable development, particularly as most of the highly food insecure populations reside in degraded environments. It is important to note that because there is no single social protection model; countries should identify their own pathways in progressively developing comprehensive social protection systems specific to their national contexts.

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 benefits that arise from their management with local people is also essential for effective biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. Emphasis is needed on fostering locally based environmental management, ensuring access to biodiversity resources, land reform and the acknowledgement of customary tenure. Programmes 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.

Challenges

A certain level of income and food security is necessary to support and empower vulnerable people to engage in ecosystems protection and environmentally sensitive livelihoods. Access to biodiversity and associated ecosystem services for the livelihood of communities should be secured through the stronger protection and more sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as by the safeguarding of relevant traditional knowledge. Estimates suggest that at least 40% of internal conflicts over the last 60 years are linked to competing for natural resources and biodiversity. The risk of violent conflict is elevated when the exploitation of natural resources causes environmental damage and loss of livelihoods or when benefits are unequally distributed. In addition, people focused on their daily survival usually do not give priority to forest, soil and water conservation activities.

While the loss of biodiversity and its ecosystem services is of global extent and concern, most of its deleterious effects are felt and lived at the local level. Meanwhile, much of the legitimacy and accountability for responsive actions to prevent, stop or reverse biodiversity loss lie with nation states. Nation states cannot resolve these problems on their own however. They need the close collaboration of sub-national levels of government and local and indigenous communities, and the guidance from experience of other countries.

Messages

  • Social protection plays a vital role in supporting people exposed to food insecurity and can contribute to addressing the causes of food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Social protection systems that are designed in a gender-sensitive manner can also contribute to greater women’s empowerment. They can empower women and girls by contributing to substantive educational and nutritional improvements as well as giving them improved access to health care and facilitating greater participation in the labour market and in decent employment.
  • Social protection systems have the potential to shield people from multiple risks, short and long-term shocks and stress associated with increased climatic shocks and the increased level of exposure to hazards occurring in degraded ecosystems.
  • Basic social protection may also provide incentives for poor people to engage in conservation activities and environmental protection and to shift to more sustainable practices involving environmental management and sustainable agriculture, particularly as most of the highly food insecure populations reside in degraded environments that are highly exposed to shocks, such as droughts, floods, cyclones, etc.