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Saving people from poverty is key to saving rare species

Defra : 10 February, 2006  (New Product)
Humans have caused a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on earth. If we are to stop this trend we must stop the unsustainable use of the world's natural resources. And if we are to do this without creating more poverty and starvation in the developing countries, we have to ensure that local people are part of the solution.
This is the blunt message that will be delivered today to politicians, international NGOs and global businesses by Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight.

Jim Knight is in India to make a keynote speech at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, an important annual event in the Asia-Pacific region, which is organised by international NGO TERI, The Energy and Resources Institute. Defra supports the Summit every year and, this year, is providing 12,000 funding.

Over the past 50 years, Jim Knight will explain, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a significant and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on planet earth.

He will insist that, if governments are to meet their Millennium Development Goals, the commitments they made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the G8 pledge to eradicate poverty in Africa, this destruction has to stop. He will remind his audience that the goal of a significant reduction in the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010 is less than 5 years away.

Jim Knight will point out that everyone has a vested interest in the responsible use of all of the world's natural resources, including for the generations yet to come. But some people will not recognise that interest unless they see it in social and economic terms.

Jim Knight says:

'Some of the world's poorest regions, with the least financial resources to put towards conserving their natural environments, are also home to some of the world's richest natural habitats.

'You cannot blame people who are struggling to survive for trying to make a day-to-day living from whatever comes to hand. L ocal people need to see, and actually benefit from, the long-term economic value of their natural resources.

'Conservation strategies need to support the lives of local people as well as landscapes, animals and their habitats.'
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