Biodiversity Conservation and Millennium Development Goals

Biodiversity Conservation and Millennium Development Goals...

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18 SEPTEMBER 2009 VOL 325 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org 1502 POLICY FORUM ±T he Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are designed to inspire efforts to improve people’s lives by, among other priorities, halving extreme poverty by 2015 ( 1 ). Analogously, concern about global decline in biodiversity and degradation of eco- system services ( 2 ) gave rise in 1992 to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD target “to achieve by 2010 a signifi - cant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss” was incorporated into the MDGs in 2002. Our lack of progress toward the 2010 target ( 3 , 4 ) could undermine achievement of the MDGs and poverty reduction in the long term. With increasing global challenges, such as popu- lation growth, climate change, and overcon- sumption of ecosystem services, we need fur- ther integration of the poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation agendas. The links between poverty and the environ- ment are, unsurprisingly, complex ( 5 , 6 ) ( Fig. 1). Some attempts have been made to identify a relation between development and biodiversity, but these have yielded mixed results ( 5 ). Action is urgently needed to identify and quantify the links between biodiversity and ecosystem ser- vices on the one hand, and poverty reduction on the other, while taking into account the global, regional, and local drivers of biodiversity loss in poor areas. Tackling the root causes of both biodiver- sity loss and poverty can lead to complemen- tary positive results. For example, reducing population pressure by promoting voluntary reductions in fertility in impoverished regions could support conservation of biodiversity and faster poverty alleviation ( 7 ). However, there may be complex trade-offs, especially in the short term. Trade liberalization, for instance, might increase the supply of food commodi- ties and could reduce prices in food-import- ing countries, which would remove some pressure on these countries’ natural habitats. But reductions in trade barriers might also lead to increased production in food-export- ing countries where commercial agriculture could increase vulnerability to deforestation, pests, diseases, and/or natural disasters, and might reduce the availability of ecosystem services ( 8 , 9 ). Nevertheless, countervailing efforts to maintain biodiversity must be sensi- tive to human needs if they are to retain public support ( 10 ). The scientifi c and development policy com- munities should focus on jointly articulating and addressing the critical research questions that, when answered, will help ensure that pov- erty alleviation and conservation efforts pro- duce win-win outcomes, or at least minimize harm to either agenda. To ensure greater syner- gies, we suggest the following actions. Atten- tion must focus on constructing and meeting a new biodiversity target for the remaining MDG period and beyond. The next target should be more specifi c, similarly time-limited, reason- ably achievable, and should address the con- sequences of biodiversity loss globally and for the most vulnerable people and societies.
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This note was uploaded on 07/19/2011 for the course EVS 101 taught by Professor Varsolosunio during the Winter '10 term at American Intl. University.

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Biodiversity Conservation and Millennium Development Goals...

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