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Linking biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction: What, why and how?

The fundamental links between environment and development have long been accepted in principle, but only relatively recently have the specific links between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation been explored and debated. The Convention on Biological Diversity has been a spur for this: in 2002, it adopted a target “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth”. This wording assumes a positive link between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation – but is this justified? It is clear that biodiversity loss will continue beyond 2010—but what will this mean for poverty reduction? Even if conservation efforts were successful, would they really contribute to poverty reduction? There is a diversity of opinion as to the nature and scale of biodiversity conservation–poverty reduction links and the most appropriate mechanisms that can help to maximise them. Claims are often made on the basis of a limited number of case studies, limited number of contexts, or localised definitions of success or failure in conservation or poverty reduction. This suggests a need to be more specific in defining what types of poverty and biodiversity issues are being assessed.

As a contribution to clarifying the contested claims, IIED, UNEP-WCMC and the African Wildlife Foundation organised a symposium in April 2010. The purpose of the symposium was to explore the current state of knowledge and the evidence base for claims and counter-claims.

This publication is an output of the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG) - Event Report

Publication information

  • IIED code: G02779
  • Published: May 2010 - IIED, African Wildlife Foundation, UNEP-WCMC
  • Theme: Biodiversity
  • Language: English

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