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Conserving Biodiversity & Tackling Poverty

Conserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods

Nine case studies from around the world outlined in a new BirdLife publication have shown that poverty elimination and biodiversity conservation are issues that must be tackled side-by-side. Released today, Conserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods highlights how steps can be taken to tackle poverty by conserving biodiversity, through supporting sustainable management of environmental resources by local communities.

“Biodiversity provides the critical ‘ecosystem services’ on which development depends, including air and water purification, soil conservation, disease control, and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms and landslides.” said David Thomas, Head of BirdLife’s Site Action Unit.

The BirdLife Partner case studies in Conserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods show how working with and empowering local people can improve livelihoods and help reduce poverty as well as conserve biodiversity. An outline of the case studies follows:
South Africa: Creating income earning opportunities through avitourism.
Kenya: Improving livelihoods by enhancing natural resource management by and for local stakeholders at Arabuko Sokoke Forest.
Uganda: Enhancing the livelihoods of local communities dependent on Echuya Forest Reserve.
Burkina Faso: Empowering women through financial and social independence and access to education in Sourou Valley.
Brazil: Promoting organic cacao production for improving livelihoods in South Bahia.
Ecuador and Peru: decentralising decision-making processes, enhancing people’s rights and promoting sustainable forest management.
Jordan: Reducing vulnerability of refugee pastoralists (the Azazme) through sustainable management of natural resources and protected areas.
Cambodia: Reducing vulnerability through ecosystem improvements in Boeung Prek Lapouv.
Indonesia: Improving livelihoods and dietary security through empowerment of Sumbanese villagers.Jo Phillips, Head of International Development Policy at the RSPB, highlighted that: “Crucial to the success of many of these initiatives has been the development strong local institutions, with local people empowered to stand up for the interests of their community – and of the biodiversity that they value.” RSPB resourced the publication and actively supports the work of BirdLife Partners in several developing countries, including Uganda. The publication lists out seven policy messages aimed to be taken on board by governments, donors, institutions and other key stakeholders.” she continued. “We urge everyone to take note of these – they include the importance of involving local people as active players in environmental decision-making; the need for environmental assets (including ecosystem goods and services) to be identified, monitored and valued; and the need for the governments of developed countries to deliver on their promises for more and better aid.” Speaking on behalf of BirdLife’s Africa Partnership, Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson said: “The unique way in which the BirdLife Partnership works allows us to draw upon the diverse experiences of people, their livelihoods and the pressures facing them in our attempts to deal with the challenges of conservation and economic development in a concerted and effective manner; to bring together these success stories in one publication is an encouraging and useful step. The next step though is for governments and other stakeholders to take note and to fully appreciate that the environment and biodiversity are the foundations on which long-term poverty eradication and truly sustainable development depend.

For further information on the importance of the environment to people’s livelihoods see BirdLife’s recent report: Livelihoods and the environment at Important Bird Areas: Listening to local voices (PDF, 1.4mb). The report investigates the lives of local people at Important Bird Areas (IBAs) around the world, drawing together their perceptions and experiences of poverty and the role of the environment in people’s lives.BirdLife call for unified approach in tackling global poverty and conserving biodiversity

The environment and biodiversity must be at the heart of work to eliminate poverty and promote economic prosperity across the world. That is the message from BirdLife International and its UK Partner the RSPB, during a landmark meeting of UK government and non-governmental organisations occurring today in London. The conference, titled ‘A Global Future: Development Pathways in a Climate Changing World’ was organised in recognition that in an era of climate change, what happens in one part of the globe can affect the rest of the planet – and that it is the poorest and the natural world that will be most severely affected. During the event, Hilary Benn, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development and David Milliband, Secretary of State for the Environment, will outline their joint commitment to tackling global poverty while protecting the environment. The conference was organised by the Development and Environment Group (DEG) of BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) with the Up in Smoke coalition –UK non-government organisations involved in overseas development and aid.Joanna Phillips, head of trade and international development policy at the RSPB, is chair of DEG and helped organise the event. She said: “A healthy, functioning environment is central to successful long term development and to eliminating poverty. Wherever you are in the world, a healthy environment is vital for a decent quality of life – for the poorest, it can mean survival. Despite this, the environment is routinely neglected or undervalued in government plans for economic growth. She stressed: “We need to do more to help developing countries overcome poverty through supporting sound management and sustainable use of environmental assets and natural resources, and through ensuring that our own lifestyles and choices are not harming the poor and the environment.

Attending today’s conference, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano of BirdLife International and one of Africa’s leading conservationists said: “ Biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it provides, are the lifeblood for many communities in developing countries. They provide food, fuel, shelter, medicines and many other crucial elements of life and well-being. They are the basis for the developing world to develop sustainably and escape poverty. All global actions to reduce poverty must therefore hold the concept of biodiversity conservation at their core.”

The meeting comes on the same day as the release of ‘Conserving biodiversity, improving livelihoods’ – a report bringing together case studies from BirdLife Partners around the world showing that biodiversity conservation can positively contribute to environmental protection and aid in reducing poverty.

4th July 2014