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Key Message

If we don't address poverty and inequity soon, we will face greater conflict and greater damage to ecosystems.

Poverty and Environment

Addressing inequity for nature's sake

Reducing poverty and fostering human development are fundamental prerequisites for achieving sustainable development. Growing inequity within and across countries is a troubling trend which, if not addressed soon, will lead to greater social conflict and an increasing rate of ecosystem deterioration. There is a need to address these issues in novel ways. We need to move away from conventional responses relying on the fruits of economic growth trickling down to the impoverished, to policy responses that embrace broader participation, greater opportunities and more empowerment of the poor in their own development process.

Since 1992, IISD has sought to provide these responses through policy analysis; intelligence gathering; impacts assessment and modelling; and public engagement and outreach. Our approach recognizes the need for constructive global engagement at the international level combined with strong national policies and action by individuals.

IISD believes that the most effective actions for reducing poverty and fostering human development are those that integrate the sustainable management of ecosystem services, the promotion of economic development and ensuring social equity within a single comprehensive framework. Implementing these actions requires the use of a wide range of tools—from public participation techniques to integrated assessment tools—to understand the complex nexus among constituents of well-being, ecosystem services and institutions.

Our team possesses considerable experience and skills in a variety of areas which has made IISD an international leader on understanding the links between human development and ecosystem services. To maintain continuity in our work on poverty and environment IISD has established a cross-program 'Working Group on Poverty and Environment.' Members are Aaron Cosbey, Anne Hammill, Dale Rothman, Marlene Roy and Oli Brown.