Protecting nature-based assets could boost rural poor’s income – UN

8 October 2008

Increasing nature-based enterprises could simultaneously enhance incomes for the world’s rural poor and increase their resilience to economic, social and environmental threats, according to a new United Nations-backed report launched today.

Some three quarters of the 2.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day depend on local natural resources for their livelihoods, which are now being menaced by climate change and ecosystem degradation.

“World Resources Report 2008: Roots of Resilience” was released in Barcelona, Spain, at the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The new publication is a joint effort by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and non-governmental organization (NGO) known as the World Research Institute.

“Poverty will never be made history unless we invest in more intelligent management of the world’s nature-based assets,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. “There are now countless models and case studies of how ecosystems can be managed to boost rural livelihoods and incomes while meeting the goal of environmental sustainability.”

The report concludes that translating these models into reality requires emphasizing three key elements: ownership by the poor of local resources; the capacity of local communities to manage ecosystems competently; and creating networks to link nature-based enterprises to increase access to the economic mainstream.

One example cited in the new publication is a scheme in Bangladesh to help villagers to sustainably manage fisheries and wetlands. Prior to that programme, there had been fierce competition over fishing rights, but in the eight years after its implementation, degradation of the bird and fish habitat has been reversed and a 140 per cent increase in fish catches and a 33 per cent rise in local income have been recorded.

In a related development, UNEP unveiled a new “Paint for the Planet” website yesterday showcasing stand-out entries from its International Children’s Painting Competition.

Five young artists from Burundi, Colombia, Malta and the United States will attend an event in New York to plead for leadership on climate change and officially open an exhibit at UN Headquarters on 23 October.


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