Poverty Alleviation and Conservation Together, Says WWF President
In a blog post for WWF-Australia, WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse makes a case for treating poverty alleviation and conservation as two sides of the same coin. In this article, she bemoans Rio+20’s failure to produce substantive governmental action, and suggests that the reason why the Millennium Development Goals and Rio+20 are two separate entities is the result of thinking of poverty and environmental degradation as separate problems.
She supports a call for the three pillars of sustainable development to be addressed harmoniously with two powerful assertions:
(1) 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas where natural resources are absolutely critical to their livelihoods and wellbeing. As such, these are the people most vulnerable to environmental degradation.
(2) Many biologically rich and threatened places around the world are also home to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. In these areas, the poor are often the stewards of globally important biodiversity, and they are key actors in sustaining the capacity of these resources to provide critical environmental services and sustain economic growth.
Therefore, she argues, “to maintain the richness of these natural environments, we must address poverty in these places.”
While she is critical of governmental cooperation at Rio+20, she praises the efforts by civil society groups and businesses looking to pursue sustainable development initiatives. Further, she highlights work done by WWF-Australia in partnership with AusAID (and others) to benefit areas such as Borneo by providing poverty alleviations programs in harmony with conservation initiatives. This project and others in the wider Coral Triangle area give hope that governments and civil society can work together to tackle poverty and environmental degradation in a more holistic manner.
In closing, Yolanda Kakabadse urges governments to work to establish a strong framework for a post Millennium Development Goals world in 2015, “It is WWF’s and my view that this framework must include a focus on critical issues such as green economy, food security, energy access for all, and conserving biodiversity.”