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Environment & natural resources
© ADA
Boy in the rain forest in Nicaragua

An intact environment with fertile soils, clean water and air, a wealth of flora, fauna and minerals are the natural basis for our life. But the global natural ressources are far from being in good condition:

  • Nearly 44 percent of cultivated land worldwide is located in dry regions, where does live a third of the worldwide population.
  • More than 100 countries are menaced by desertification and land degradation, land which more than a billion of people do directly depend on.
  • Research institute Maplecroft’s "Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2011"  sees an "Extreme risk" for large part of ADC’s priority countries Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Uganda, Mocambique, and Bhutan, to experience negative impacts due to climate change
  • Additionally to the water scarity in dry regions, the water supply of another billion people is provided by mountain ecosystems such as the Andes or the Himalayas, and might be reduced due to glacier melting and reduced snowfall
  • World’s energy need is estimated to increase by 55 percent until 2030. If this need is not covered by low emission energy sources, CO2 emissions will increase by 50 percent until 2030 – instead of decreasing by 50 percent as would be necessary to mitigate climate change and its negative consequences

Safeguarding livelihoods

The least developed countries, and especially the poorest people in these countries, are worst affected by environmental destruction and the depletion of natural resources. Three-quarters of the world´s poor live in rural areas and most of them earn their living from agriculture. The shortage of resources such as water, fertile soil or fuel wood threatens their food security and sources of income. As they largely lack any reserves or alternative livelihoods, poor sections of the population are also particularly vulnerable to environmental changes. Their risk of becoming sick due to polluted environment is ten times higher than for Europeans. The World Health Organzation (WHO) estimates than 20 percent of all illnesses are due to polluted water, air or similar environmental impacts. In many least developed countries, environmental pollution figures under the main reasons for child mortality.

International cooperation

The global scale of environmental change calls for worldwide cooperation. The international community has adopted a number of global environmental accords, above all the three so-called Rio conventions on biodiversity, climate change and combating desertification. These attest to its shared determination to take action against environmental destruction, advance sustainable development and cooperate at international level.

Good Cooperation on the local…

It is crucial to coordinate every intervention with national institutions as well as with the local population. An government and a civil society aware of environmental issues, in charge of defining and steering the local development, are the best guarantee for sustainable use and preservation of natural resources.

…as well as on the international level

Environmental change is a global phenomenon, so it needs global cooperation. This is based on a number of environmental conventions, first of all the so called UN "Rio conventions" – the convention on Biological diversity (CBD), the framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Moreover, Assuring Ecological Sustainability is one of the eight UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). There are discussions to complement the MDGs by so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).