EcovillagesGreen growth refers to economic growth through the use of sustainable and eco-focused alternatives. These “green” alternatives benefit both the economy and the environment all while contributing to poverty reduction. Ecovillages are a prime example of an environmentally conscious effort to address global poverty. They are communities, rural or urban, built on sustainability. Members of these locally owned ecovillages are granted autonomy as they navigate a solution that addresses the four dimensions of sustainability: economy, ecology, social and culture.

The Global Ecovillage Network

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) recognizes that all four facets of sustainability must be addressed for maximum poverty reduction. Solely focusing on the economic or environmental impact will not yield optimal results. Embracing, not eliminating, the social and cultural aspects of sustainability should the aim of all communities in order to move toward a better future.

The development of sustainable communities around the globe is a commitment of the GEN. The organization’s outreach programs intend to fuel greater global cooperation, empower the citizens of the world’s nations and develop a sustainable future for all.

Working with over 30 international partners, GEN focuses on five defined regions. GEN Africa was created in 2012 and has overseen developments in more than 20 communities across the continent.

A Focus on Zambia

Zambia is one the countries garnering attention. Over half of Zambia’s population — 58% — falls below the $1.90 per day international poverty line. The majority of the nation’s impoverished communities live in rural regions.

Zambia’s government addresses these concerns by integrating the U.N.’s sustainable development goals into its development framework. With a focus on economic and ecological growth, Zambia could lay the groundwork for the success of its’ ecovillages.

Planting the Seed

The Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture (ReSCOPE) Programme recognizes youth as the future keepers of the planet. As well as Zambia, the program has chapters in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The focus is on establishing regional networks to strengthen sustainable efforts. The Zambia chapter along with its 17 newly joined organizations work toward the goal of educating and encouraging communities to find sustainable methods of food production.

ReSCOPE seeks to connect schools and their local environments through the Greening Schools for Sustainable Communities Programme. The program is a partnership between GEN and ReSCOPE and has received funding from the Scottish government. Through education and encouraging sustainable practices, Zambia’s youth have an active role in ensuring future growth.

Greening Schools

Greening Schools strengthens the communities of four schools — the centers of resilience and a source of community inspiration. Beginning with nutrition and food security, students are able to play a part in developmental change. Their hard work includes planting of hundreds of fruit trees. The schools became grounds for hands-on agricultural experience and exposure to the tending of life.

However, the impact was not restrained within the schools. The greening schools inspired local communities to make seed security and crop diversification a commitment. In 2019, these communities “brought back lost traditional crops and adopted intercropping and other agroecological practices.”

As part of their sustainable development goals, the U.N. recognizes the value of investing in ecovillages. Goals 11 and 12 stress the importance of sustainable communities and responsible consumption and production respectively. Educating and advocating for youth to take part in ecovillages addresses this matter.

Coming generations will determine the future, and the youth wield the power to address global concerns like sustainability and poverty. Ecovillages are a great new way to break the cycle of poverty.

Kelli Hughes
Photo: Unsplash

Air Pollution in Nepal's Kathmandu ValleyLocated in a bowl-shaped region enclosed by four mountain ranges, the Kathmandu Valley is Nepal’s most populous and developed metropolitan area. However, with the valley’s population density, level of industrialization and geographic location, a host of problems afflicts the region. In recent years, the international and domestic communities have paid increasing attention to the worsening issue of air pollution in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. In Nepal, air contains five times more pollutants than the amount considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO); the air in the Kathmandu Valley contains ten times the pollutant concentration set forth by WHO guidelines.

Causes of Air Pollution

The Urban Health Initiative (UHI), an on-the-ground pilot program initiated by the WHO, has identified four primary sources of air pollution worldwide:

  • Solid waste
  • Transport
  • Industry/brick kilns
  • Household energy sectors

The geographical location of the Kathmandu Valley exacerbates all four sources of pollution. Since tall mountain ranges enclose the region, the valley does not get enough wind to disperse air pollutants. Furthermore, Nepal’s location between China and India means that the contaminants from both countries flood into Nepal and vice versa.

Effects of Air Pollution in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley

Air pollution has had a massive impact on Nepalese people. Every year, 35,000 people in Nepal die from illnesses related to air contaminants. Air pollution frequently causes osteoporosis, heart attacks, dementia and kidney diseases. Furthermore, the life expectancy in the Kathmandu Valley is four years less than that of other Nepalese regions.

While the government has taken little action to reduce the region’s concentration of air pollutants, the Nepalese people have taken matters into their own hands. People have started to wear face masks day-to-day, cancel outdoor activities and frequently monitor air pollution levels. Although individuals have shown an admirable degree of agency in protecting themselves, the Nepalese government must take greater action to reduce the risk of air contaminants for its people.

Action Items So Far

To address air pollution in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, the Nepalese government has released a National Plan for Electric Mobility (NPEM) that contains several time-oriented goals. The NPEM includes several objectives: increasing the share of electric vehicles to 20% by the end of 2020, cutting fossil fuel use in the transport sector 50% by 2050 and developing a hydroelectric powered rail network by 2040. The NPEM focuses on pollution caused by transportation, and this emphasis has shown promising results.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, automobile use has decreased significantly in Nepal. The air quality index in April 2020 showed a noteworthy improvement compared to April 2019: the air on April 30, 2020, contained about 50% fewer contaminants than the air the year prior. Therefore, the government should be able to achieve significant improvements in air quality by targeting automobile emissions.

Efforts by USAID

In 2015, USAID launched the five-year, nearly $10 billion Nepal Hydropower Development Project (NHDP). With this project, USAID aimed to assist in the development of hydroelectric power services. Nepal has impressive hydroelectric capabilities and, if the country harnesses its full hydroelectric potential, it could even have an energy surplus to export to neighboring countries and gain additional revenue.

Working in tandem with various Nepalese governmental organizations, the NHDP focuses on private sector development and investment in hydroelectricity. By creating viable power services, the NHDP hopes to permanently transform Nepal’s energy sector to include more sustainable sources.

Moving Forward

As Nepal and international organizations improve the country’s air quality, a successful continued response will require cooperation. Given Nepal’s landlocked location, collaboration with other countries such as India and China is also necessary. However, in light of the efforts of the Nepalese government and USAID, Nepal is taking steps in the right direction to improve its air quality for the benefit of everyone in the region—especially those in the vulnerable area of Kathmandu Valley. Ultimately, there is hope to combat air pollution in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley and protect the health and safety of thousands. 

– Alanna Jaffee
Photo: Wikimedia

Unrepresented nationsIn 1991, The Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization (UNPO) was founded in The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. The UNPO is an international body with a membership comprised of “indigenous peoples, minorities, citizens of unrecognized States and occupied territories” who use The UNPO as a collective means of participating in the major international community. Over forty unrepresented groups currently make up The UNPO’s General Assembly with a few notable members such as Tibet, Taiwan and Washington D.C.

UNPO’s Mission

The communities joined together in The Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization are united in a shared mission guided by the five major principles of nonviolence, human rights, democracy, self-determination, environmental protection, and tolerance stated in The UNPO Covenant. The Covenant draws off of language used in ubiquitous international documents like The United Nations Charter, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and others to validate the need for a forum such as The UNPO to exist.

Through its mission, The UNPO is also an ally in the fight to alleviate global poverty. According to estimates from the World Bank, indigenous peoples make up about 5 percent of the population and about 10 percent of those living in poverty around the world. These statistics reveal how indigenous groups are disproportionately affected by poverty. By empowering indigenous and other marginalized people through international representation, The UNPO is taking important steps to combat poverty.

How The UNPO Works

The main decision-making body of The UNPO is the General Assembly, made up of delegations from each of the member communities. The General Assembly convenes every 12-18 months so that UNPO members can discuss the pressing issues in their communities. In addition, the Assembly elects members of the eight members of the Presidency, including the President, two Vice-Presidents, General Secretary, and Treasurer for three-year terms.  

The Presidency has the duty of implementing the policy put forth by the General Assembly during a term. The current President is Mr. Nasser Boladai of West Balochistan. Under the direction of the General Assembly and the Presidency, The Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization acts as a key intermediary between the unrepresented communities it represents and international institutions such as The U.N. and E.U.

The UNPO approaches international forums in the role of an advocate for their members as well as a consultant about international decisions on issues relevant to UNPO members. For example, thanks to the work of  The UNPO, marginalized groups and minorities have been able to actively participate in various U.N. sessions of The Human Rights Council, The U.N. Forum on Minority Issues, and The U.N. Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues.

In addition, the UNPO has successfully lobbied for their inclusion in The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process launched in 2008 to review the human rights records of all UN Member States. As a result of the advocacy and lobbying done by The UNPO, many of the marginalized and unheard voices that The UNPO represents now have the chance to be heard by those who wield power amongst the international community.

Who is the in the UNPO?

The Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization currently represents 43 Nations/ Peoples throughout the world. Each member community has its own set of specific aspirations and concerns that they hope The UNPO can help them verbalize. The UNPO compiles detailed profiles on each of its member communities and then uses this information to help advocate in their interest.

Tibet, or the Government of Tibet in Exile is a member of the UNPO and has a history that is familiar to many. In the 1950’s, Tibet became an occupied territory of The People’s Republic of China and lost its national autonomy and political rights. The Central Tibetan Administration or the Tibetan Government in Exile claims that the Chinese occupation is an illegitimate military campaign. Although the Chinese constitution grants political autonomy to the occupied areas of Tibet, the reality from the Tibetan point of view is that the Chinese preside over them with an authoritarian rule.

Through the influence of The UNPO, The Tibetan Delegation hopes to plead it’s case to the international community and address grievances (violations of political rights, environmental degradation, and suppression of freedom of expression and association) against the Chinese government.

Since 1991, The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization has helped promote the rights and freedoms of minority/marginalized groups throughout the world. As we strive towards shaping a world of equality and justice, The UNPO serves as a fine example of how we can give a voice to the voiceless.

Clarke Hallum

Photo: Flickr

Plastic pollution in IndonesiaIndonesia is second only to China as the world’s largest contributor to plastic pollution. Between 1.15 million and 2.41 million tons of plastic waste contaminate the oceans each year. Of this, Indonesia is estimated to contribute roughly 200,000 tons of waste from its rivers and streams. Plastic pollution in Indonesia has become a huge nuisance.

Four of Indonesia’s rivers, Brantas, Solo, Serayu and Progo, rank among the top 20 most polluted rivers in the world. Even though Indonesia possesses about 6 percent of the world’s fresh water, its public water is contaminated with E. coli, fecal matter and other harmful pathogens. The water supply has become undrinkable due to this contamination. Approximately 80 percent of the Indonesian population lacks access to water from pipes, therefore depending on river water for drinking, cleaning and bathing.

Lack of government investment in water pipes has caused the majority of the country to be dependent on water bottles or boiled river water for their consumption. Many Indonesian frequently use disposable plastics in forms of bags, cups, bottles and utensils, making plastic use a common part of their daily routine.

In order to halt plastic pollution in Indonesia, it is important to alter the country’s land-based waste management system. The government has committed to allocating $1 billion a year to drastically reduce the amount of plastic and waste products contaminating the country’s water sources. Indonesian Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan made the declaration at the 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Pandjaitan notified representatives at the summit that Indonesia would reduce its marine waste by 70 percent within eight years. A few measures proposed to contribute to this reduction are the development of industries that use biodegradable materials to make plastic substitutes, widespread taxing of plastic bags and initiating a sustainable public education campaign.

In addition to public education campaigns and charges for plastic bags, the government is also initiating a new land-based waste management tactic: turning scraps into road materials.

These plastic roads, which are made of shredded, melted plastic waste mixed with road tar, are being promoted as an inexpensive and more durable surface than standard roadways. It is also an alternative to discarding the tons of plastic waste that sit in landfills and clog waterways.

On July 29, 2017, Indonesia laid out its first plastic road test, stretching 700 meters, at Udayana University in Bali. Officials now plan to use the dump mix on roads in the cities of Jakarta, Bekasi and Surabaya.

Plastic pollution in Indonesia is believed to approach 9.52 million tons by the year 2019, which is about 14 percent of the country’s waste. If each kilometer of road requires 2.5 to five tons of plastic waste, it could be used to pave 190,000 kilometers of roadway. This is a perfect illustration of the idiom “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and the new roads can contribute greatly to converting that waste into a useful material.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in indonesiaIndonesia is a vast country spread over thousands of islands, home to a diverse array of ecosystems and agricultural areas. With a rapidly growing population of 260 million people, the government in Jakarta is seeking solutions to improve sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and increase efficiency in a key sector that accounts for around a third of the country’s total land use.

Large industrial plantations and small-scale landholders and subsistence farmers dominate farming in the archipelago, but the pressure of rapid population growth is forcing local businesses and stakeholders to push for sustainable agriculture in Indonesia. Commercialization, industrialization and urbanization have forced agricultural businesses to face the environmental effects of pollution and deforestation and invest in more sustainable practices.

Indonesia has recently gained a reputation as a regional hub for tech start ups, most famously for the motorbike ride-hailing app Go-Jek. A new app named iGrow has gained a following after emerging at the StartupIstanbul competition in Turkey. By connecting regular citizens with Indonesian farmers, iGrow helps users invest in the farmers’ crops and plantations and promote more sustainable agriculture in Indonesia. For now, the app only allows users to invest in planting one of three different seeds, durian, peanuts and longan, but the app’s creators promise that more options will be available soon.

Jakarta is also partnering with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to research and promote sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and beyond, pioneering a food diversification program in southeastern Sulawesi in eastern Indonesia. The project aims to reduce dependency on common carbohydrates like grains and rice and instead promote indigenous sources of starch like the sago palm. An earlier collaboration with the FAO planted 5,000 hectares of sago in Papua in a similar project, and the current program targets two districts with a project to build a sago processing unit to commercially export the crop.

Elsewhere in the world, the major lender Rabobank is launching a $1 billion sustainable farming facility in partnership with U.N. Environment that will initially focus on Brazil and Indonesia. The facility will seek to advance sustainable agriculture in Indonesia and ultimately around the world, financing sustainable land use in ways that help the country achieve its climate goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

– Giacomo Tognini

Photo: Flickr

Environmental Conservation in Kenya
Since Kenya gained independence in 1963, the country has prioritized the protection of its land alongside the development of its people. The focus on environmental conservation in Kenya benefits agriculture, alleviates poverty and promotes sustainable development.

Kenya is rich in biodiversity, containing deserts, savannas, wetlands, coral reefs and over 1 million hectares of closed-canopy indigenous forests. The country has nearly 35,000 known species of plants, animals and microorganisms.

Historically, Kenya has been active in international climate conventions. In 2010, with the adoption of a new constitution, the Kenyan government made environmental conservation a civil obligation. The 2010 constitution takes an ecological perspective to sustainable development, advocating for conservation in the interest of both the earth and humanity.

The Need for Environmental Conservation in Kenya

Environmental management and rehabilitation strategies are essential in Kenya, as 70% of the country’s workers are employed in agriculture. In addition to this, ecotourism makes up nearly 20% of the country’s GDP.

Despite Kenya’s economic reliance on environmental health, 80% of the country’s land is arid or semi-arid. Only a small percentage of land is suitable for growing crops, and even these fertile areas are fragile. With poor agricultural management, the topsoil is easily washed away.

Kenya’s poorest are the most likely to live in arid regions. Poverty cyclically increases with the scarcity of productive soil, clean water, effective sanitation and market opportunities. Without these critical resources, the poor are unable to improve their livelihoods.

Environmental conservation in Kenya is key to its development. While enforcing conservation is challenging due to population pressures, raising public awareness of environmental issues could also raise support for such measures.

As smallholder farmers seek arable land, they encroach on Kenya’s indigenous forests. Because of Kenya’s richness in non-timber forest products such as medicinal plants, essential oils and beeswax, the destruction of its forests harms both its wildlife and its economy. Conserving the forests is pivotal to protecting both Kenya’s resources and its 50 endangered species.

The beautiful mangrove forests and coral reefs that line Kenya’s Indian Ocean border are also a substantial form of revenue for the country, providing both ecotourism destinations and ecosystem services.

Communities Work Together for Sustainable Conservation

To further promote the ecological perspective of Kenya’s government, the Nature Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust have collaborated to develop community conservancies in the northern semi-arid grasslands. These conservancies cover three million hectares, within which over 200,000 people from 17 different ethnic tribes reside. They strive to help Kenyan communities engage in environmental conservation.

The conservancies protect communal land for livestock and wildlife, teach grazing management techniques and provide opportunities for alternative income sources such as tourist lodges and campsites. The Northern Rangelands Trust also helps connect pastoralists to their markets, helping them access fair prices for their sustainably raised livestock.

Environmental conservation in Kenya greatly benefits its economic and social development. Sustainable development can help Kenya achieve the Kenya Vision for 2030, transforming the country into a clean, secure, middle-income nation.

Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

At a recent fundraising gala, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) raised more than $40 million. This money was dedicated to preserving the last of Earth’s wildlife, habitat, and fragile ecosystems.

DiCaprio stated during the opening ceremony, “We’ve decimated our forests, wildlands, polluted and overfished our rivers and oceans; all the key ecosystems that not only serve as a home to our planet’s biodiversity but also make life here for us possible”.

The event itself, an annual affair, focused its current efforts on protecting key species like the tiger, rhino, shark, and mountain gorilla by working with governments to conserve the jungles, coral reef and forests they call home.

The LDF was able to raise such a large amount of money in a single evening by holding a live auction, presented by the LDF’s long-term partner Julius Baer and other co-sponsors like Chopard and Armani.

The live auction sold an extensive collection of fine art, luxury items and uniquely memorable lifetime experiences. Some of the items sold were an estate home on Leonardo DiCaprio’s own Belize Island that was sold for over $11 million, a private concert with Elton John sold twice for a total of $3 million, and a limited re-edition of Rodin’s “The Thinker” sold for close to $2 million. This shortlist of expensive items were a few of the many auctioned off at the gala event. In addition, several key figures at the event donated simply out of the kindness of their hearts for this worthy cause.

Starting in 1998, the LDF has stated its mission of protecting the world’s last wild places. The LDF implements solutions that help restore balance to threatened ecosystems, ensuring the long-term health and well being of all Earth’s inhabitants. Since that time the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF) has worked on some of the most pressing environmental issues. The LDF has made several strides with grantmaking, public campaigns and media initiatives to focus efforts on protecting the biodiversity of the world.

With accomplishments like this, it is truly satisfying to see the LDF tirelessly strive to make a difference.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Look to the Stars, Leonardo DiCaprio, Calfund
Photo: Flickr

waste problem in haiti
Haiti is progressively becoming overrun with mountains of waste in the streets because there is absolutely nowhere to put it.

The trash and waste problem in Haiti is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there is no apparent place to dispose of its increasing volume of waste.

The problem peaked in 2012, and imported plastic products were banned. These products were blocking drains and paths and clogging the streets so badly that there was flooding.

This flooding problem subsequently destroyed businesses, homes and other property. Stagnant water posed a serious health issue in the most impoverished areas; it allowed mosquitos to flourish and disease to spread.

The smell of the garbage and the poor overall appearance of Haiti (most specifically the capital, Port-Au-Prince) have destroyed the economy and led to extreme decreases in tourism.

In addition to being odorous and detrimental to tourism, decaying waste produces methane gas. When inhaled, this gas can cause serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.

Most disturbingly, a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also predicts that waste-generation rates will more than double over the next 20 years in lower-income countries like Haiti, where trash is already so abundant that people have to climb over or wade through it to get anywhere.

This means that the number of people migrating to urban cities such as Port-au-Prince will increase — a population spike that will manifest itself in the production of a proportionate amount of litter in the streets. This transition will require employment of a vital, comprehensive national management plan.

The most logical step to rid cities like Port-Au-Prince in Haiti of waste is recycling.

Volunteers and organizations in Haiti can gather the waste from the streets and exchange the plastics, papers, etc., for cash to help private businesses overseas. In turn, the waste can also be turned into functional packaging for the future use of Haitian companies.

This means Haitians in impoverished areas can exchange their waste both for profit and cleaner streets that will not flood or draw disease-ridden mosquitoes.

Citizens who take the time to make the streets a little cleaner can often make about $52 a week. This is not a bad wage, considering many of the people in Haiti can live off $1 a day. Their aid in cleaning the city will also help eliminate major disease and illness factors in the area.

A plan has been put in place to get more volunteers to join the fight to rid Haiti of waste before its urban areas become overpopulated. The country’s impoverished people can improve their streets, communities, environment and national economy by simply recycling waste products.

– Cara Morgan

Sources: Aid Volunteers, The Guardian
Photo: Idea Peepshow

In the fight against climate change, nothing is more important than mutual cooperation. Organizations like the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN) facilitate networks of NGOs who share the common goal of helping the environment. Such networks maximize the impact of individual organizations.

USCAN operates under a theory of change which includes three dimensions: relationships, process and results. The network provides the space to foster each. Relationships are built on the local, national and international levels between organizations with diverse approaches to climate change mitigation. USCAN facilitates the process of sharing information through issue briefings and coordination. Ultimately, these three dimensions serve to exponentially increase the impact of the organizations.

Members of USCAN have access to information, resources and services from a coalition of like-minded organizations. Members collaborate over policy recommendations for all levels of government, share information on campaign information such as IPCC reports and spread each other’s message.

To become a member an organization must share the vision that climate change must be fought by both mitigation and adaption. USCAN seeks to understand how climate processes and events affect communities, wildlife and businesses. It recognizes that these effects negatively impact not just the environment but the economy as well. This is why USCAN believes it is in the world’s best economic and environmental interest to fight climate change.

The Guardian highlights the importance of coalitions for affecting change and gives “13 tips on building a coalition to tackle climate change.” One tip is given by Robert Laubacher, the project director of MIT Climate CoLab. He writes that even a small level of collaboration can have a strong influence. Laubacher cautions against focusing too much on government progress, which is slow, and instead to see the virtue in small coalitions of non-governmental organizations — coalitions that USCAN helps to build.

Individual efforts to mitigate climate change are organized through societal organizations. USCAN, in turn, coordinates the efforts of the societal organizations, thus transforming the passion and desire of an individual into lasting change in the fight against climate change.

– Julianne O’Connor 

Sources: The Guardian, USCAN

A common misconception is that protecting the environment exacerbates poverty in poor nations because it prevents agricultural development and the ability to harvest natural resources. This is far from the truth. In fact, environmental protection initiatives actually help alleviate poverty.

A study done in Costa Rica reveals that ecotourism efforts contribute to decreased poverty levels in regions situated near protected parks and natural areas. Thanks to the economic opportunities provided by the ecotourism sector, these regions have seen nearly 66% reduction in poverty. Paul Ferraro, professor of economics and environmental policy at Georgia State University, finds three triggering factors that show a direct correlation between poverty reduction and environmental conservation.

Triggers of Poverty Reduction Linked to Environmental Protection

  1. Changes in tourism and recreational activities
  2. Infrastructural changes (e.g. roads, health clinics and schools)
  3. Changes in ecosystem services (e.g. crop pollination and nutrient cycles)

A similar study was done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on protected areas of Thailand and Costa Rica established 15 years ago. The study concluded, “the net impact of ecosystem protection was to alleviate poverty.” Communities around protected areas in Costa Rica experienced a 10% decrease in poverty, while the communities in Thailand saw almost a 30% reduction. As in the previous study, PNAS finds that tourism revenue and job opportunities directly contributed to reduced levels in poverty.

Protecting biodiversity is critical for 75% of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and depend on sustenance farming and fishing for survival. Disappearing or declining species in an ecosystem directly impacts people’s ability to provide food for their families. Local villagers in the Sierra Leone region of West Africa, for example, experienced direct effects of biodiversity loss as a result of overfishing and pollution. As fishing makes up their main source of food, the coastal community struggled to sustain their protein-rich diet with the loss of diversity in fish stocks. The World Bank helped restore the marine ecosystem by improving fishing regulations and introducing sustainable fishing techniques in the area.

The World Bank invests over $1 billion in nature and wildlife protection, and an additional $300 million in environmental and natural resource law enforcement. Moreover, investments in biodiversity help create jobs and raise incomes around the world. The Bank has already helped boost income levels in communities within rural regions of South Africa, Kenya and Honduras. The long-term impacts of these investments contribute simultaneously to two of the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals:

Eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The protection of natural ecosystems from environmental degradation, such as pollution, deforestation and biodiversity loss, ensures the safety and stability of local impoverished communities that rely on those precious natural resources for survival. Environmental protection has proven to be a key factor in poverty reduction around the world, and it is critical that international organizations, like the World Bank, continue to support global initiatives in hopes of making the UN Millennium Development Goals a reality.

– Gloria Kostadinova

Sources: Nature World News, National Geographic, Triple Pundit, World Bank, United Nations
Photo: Maag-Uma