Poverty and the Environment
The relationships between poverty and environment degradation are highly debated. In commemoration of BLOG ACTION DAY, we highlight this controversial topic with a few lines in support of this fact.
Because poor people have limited financial resources, they depend on the environment for their basic needs, such as water, food, shelter. When environmental degradation occurs, the capacity of poor people to make decisions that contribute to their well-being is undermined. Until the high degree of dependency of poor people on the environment is addressed, poverty alleviation will not be achieved.
The concept of sustainable development – ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ – is typically conceptualised under three topics which are – economic, social and environmental. More often than not, the environmental aspect is often totally neglected or given inadequate attention. As a result many environmental trends, in relation to poverty alleviation, are negative.
UNEP’s Poverty and Environment Project is founded upon the premise that the sustainable use of ecosystems on which people rely will contribute to poverty reduction. This is so because poor people rely disproportionately on ecosystem services for their basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter, because they lack the financial resources to meet these needs through the market. Thus, by finding creative ways of improving access to and management of natural resources, the capacity of poor people to make decisions that will contribute to their well-being will increase. Not only will poor people be more able to meet their daily needs, but environmental sustainability will be promoted.
In recognition of this link, UNEP has developed a four-year project that aims to increase developing countries’ capacity to mainstream environment into poverty reduction policies and programmes. Such mainstreaming will ensure that efforts to reduce poverty are not undermined by the unsustainable use of resources.