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Biodiversity for the Millennium Development Goals: What local organisations can do

In 2002 the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a target to significantly reduce biodiversity loss by 2010 ‘as a contribution to poverty alleviation’. In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)offered compelling evidence of the positive links between biodiversity conservation and human well-being. In practice, however, biodiversity conservation and local people’s livelihoods often compete – particularly in some ‘top-down’ approaches to conservation such as certain national parks. Can ‘bottom-up’ approaches to conservation – decentralisation and community management – provide the answer? A recent review shows that community-led conservation can contribute to human well-being and to the achievement of many Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but in the majority of cases, it remains small-scale, isolated and not integrated within the formal conservation sector. We suggest that, given appropriate support, community conservation could achieve much more for poverty reduction. Indeed, without further local action, the international targets set within the CBD and the MDGs are likely to be unattainable. We suggest a range of actions for donor and government agencies to help unleash this potential – including payments for ecosystem services, mainstreaming biodiversity into sector-wide initiatives, and better integration of biodiversity within the MDG framework.

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