Over the last 15 years, the amount of money spent on pets in the U.S. jumped from $17 billion to $43 billion annually. Birding is catching on in popularity globally.Clearly people love their animals -and not just their pets either. Perhaps this is why biodiversity conservation has attracted so many advocates and so much attention around the world. Newspapers routinely report on the discovery of new species and the demise of others. Nature as theater, both gripping and grizzly, is wildly popular when captured on film.
And yet, conservation biology, the interdisciplinary pursuit of saving wild species and wilderness, is at best marginal in the public policy sphere, particularly in development circles. Often, so too is environment more broadly. In this marketplace of ideas, conservation is certainly not king. Though it should be.
The Global Oceans Action Summit closed not with a call for action as is so typical of conferences these days, but with a series of very real and resourced commitments to shared and urgent action.Hosted by the Government of the Netherlands, this summit convened around the consensus goal of healthy oceans, and brought the public and private sectors, civil society actors, local communities and even local Dutch fisherfolk to the table. Diverse groups came together to talk, listen and make commitments.
Elephants – in particular the forest elephants of Central Africa – are being poached at unprecedented rates for their valuable ivory. It is estimated that at least 200,000 forest elephants – a whopping 65 percent of the elephant population – have been slaughtered since 2002. Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been hotspots for the killing.
Now you might ask why we should care--an especially appropriate question to ask as we celebrate Earth Day. As humans, we may be attached to charismatic species such as elephants – but will their extinction affect us directly? The answer is yes. The intricate interconnections within ecosystems mean that the disappearance of a species has effects that are never limited to just that particular species. The impact can be broad and deep, affecting other animal and plant species, our water supply, people’s livelihoods, and even – in small ways – the climate.
Late last year, ministers and delegates from some 30 countries met in Botswana to discuss how to fight the booming illegal trade in ivory that is decimating Africa’s elephant population.
CITES estimates that 22,000 elephants were killed in Central and East Africa in just the year 2012. Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda are just a few of the countries affected by elephant poaching. The poached ivory is used for ornamental carvings that serve as status symbols, religious icons, and collector’s items for buyers across East Asia, Europe, and North America. This is not just a conservation issue. Wildlife crime is also a development and security challenge: It undermines government authority, breeds corruption, increases the supply of small arms, and destroys valuable natural resources. So the growing political attention wildlife crime is receiving – British Prime Minister David Cameron will host the next summit in February – is a welcome sign of high-level political commitment to address the crisis.
But nothing stays the same forever.
- “Artisanal miners are poor exploited human beings who are forced to dig for minerals under unbearable circumstances. They should be liberated.”
- “Artisanal miners are elephant poachers who destroy the environment. They should be evicted.”
- “Artisanal miners are successful small entrepreneurs. They should be supported and stimulated.”
- “Artisanal miners are economically inefficient. They should be replaced by large scale industrial operators.”
- “Artisanal miners are illegal and do not contribute any revenue to the state. They need to be registered and controlled.”
It’s tempting to think that this is just another Earth Day – after all, it has been celebrated since 1970. But perhaps this year should be different, at least in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This year marks the third year of drought for Northeast Brazil - still affecting some 10 million people, according to recent reports; a year when Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro suffered torrential rains and floods, impacting hundreds of thousands of people in these large metropolitan areas.
- Climate Change
- earth day
- smart plans
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Trinidad and Tobago
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- St. Lucia
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Helena
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
- Costa Rica
- Bahamas, The
- Antigua and Barbuda
Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.
The new Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum inspired tweets and stories all over the world, including this one in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighting the finding that women represent only 20% of elected officials. Also check out the gender inequality data visualization in Slate. Biodiversity and ecosystems popped up on Twitter during the UN biodiversity meeting in Hyderabad, India, in October. While developed countries doubled pledges for conservation, India also made headlines when it announced a $50 million grant to help developing countries preserve biodiversity. The move, along with other examples of recent conservation efforts by emerging countries, hints of a future in which larger developing economies “play a more active role in saving the environment – not just at home, but also abroad,” reports the New York Times blog, India Ink. With global youth unemployment at critical levels, a new Education for All Global Monitoring Report finds that 20% of young people in developing countries don’t have enough education or skills for work. Kwame Akyeampong, an Education for All senior policy analyst, looks at the situation for themost vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in his native Ghana in an Al Jazeera opinion piece. Once available only to paid subscribers, academic research papers are now increasingly accessible through open access publishing, according to a story in The Guardian. “The exponential rise in open access publishing shows no sign of slowing down,” writes Stephen Curry, a professor of structural biology at Imperial College.