|The World Resources Institute has just published its 2005 report The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty its available online as a pdf file.
WRI describes the report in their press release:
The report finds that environmental organizations have not addressed poverty and development groups have not considered the environment enough in the past. The model presented in the report details how natural resources — soils, forests, water, fisheries – managed at the local level are frequently the most effective means for the world’s rural poor people to create wealth for themselves.
Dozens of case studies detailed within World Resources 2005 demonstrate how local stewardship of nature can be a powerful means of fighting poverty. Control over restoring 700,000 local acres of denuded forests and grazing lands was given by the Tanzanian government to the Sukuma people and they now have higher household incomes, better diets, as well as increased populations of tree, bird and mammal species. Ucunivanua villagers in Fiji were given control by the government of clam beds and coastal waters, and because of local restrictions placed on fishing, mangrove lobster and harvestable clam populations have increased dramatically. In India, community control over the watershed has led to a nearly six-fold increase in the cash value of crops grown in Darewadi Village.
While globalization has resulted in greater wealth for many people in urban areas throughout the developing world – such as parts of China and India – these gains have often bypassed rural areas, except in the rare exceptions detailed in the report. Nearly half of the world’s six-billion people live on less than $2 per day. Three-quarters of those poor people live in rural areas. These rural households depend overwhelmingly on natural resources for their income. If these ecosystems become degraded, as many have over the past 50 years, they will never provide the fuel for economic development that will boost the rural poor beyond subsistence and into the mainstream of national economies.
“We need to stop thinking of the environment as a passive element. It is a fundamental part of community-based decision making,” said Ian Johnson, vice president of sustainable development, The World Bank. “Unfortunately, the poor often lack legal rights to ecosystems and are excluded from decisions about ecosystem management. Without addressing these failures through changes in governance, there is little chance of using the economic potential of ecosystems to reduce rural poverty.”
BBC news has an article on the report Environment key to helping poor which writes:
The release of this year’s edition, sub-titled Managing Ecosystems to Fight Poverty, is particularly pertinent, coming as it does in the run-up to the UN World Summit, which will see representatives of more than 190 countries gather in New York to review progress on the Millennium Goals adopted by world leaders five years ago.
Jonathan Lash [WRI’s president] is pessimistic that the link between environmental protection and poverty is understood at the highest level.
“In the Millennium Goals, the environment was treated as an afterthought,” he told the BBC News website.
A foreword co-written by senior figures in the World Bank and the United Nations Environment and Development Programmes notes the devastating figures which emerged earlier this year from a four-year study of global environmental decline, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (for more on the MA see our previous posts:
1, 2, 3, 4, and 5).
“If the natural resource base is not managed for the long term, if it is exploited and polluted for short-term gain, it will never provide the fuel for economic development on the scale demanded to relieve poverty,” the World Resources foreword says.