Feeding 9 billion. Great YouTube video PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Thursday, 08 November 2012 21:01

Evan Fraser, from the University of Guelph, has a nice YouTube video that highlights the challenges we will face in feeding 9 billion people, and maps out some avenues for confronting this challenge. I commend him and his team for creating a very communicative video, on what is a very serious topic.




Open letter to societal leaders PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Wednesday, 07 November 2012 09:38

Joern Fischer, a colleague and professor at Leuphana University has began an online open letter to societal leaders (politicians, economic elite, civil society leaders etc). We're many that have signed already, so if you believe that the steps towards sustainability we're currently taking are slow and inadequate, then surf to this site, read the letter and sign it if you agree.

He further elaborates on his thinking behind the letter, here.

New tool linking poverty eradication with biodiversity conservation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Helene Karlsson   
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 08:48

A new tool was recently unveiled at the 11th Conference of Parties – Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-CBD) in India. It will help countries meet their existing obligations regarding development, poverty eradication and maintenance of biodiversity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has long emphasized the need for integrating or 'mainstreaming' biodiversity into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies. National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans 2.0 (NBSAPs) is a three-year project intended to support the revision of NBSAPs, as requested at the 10th COP-CBD conference in Nagoya. It has resulted in a diagnostic tool called "Biodiversity Mainstreaming – Integrating biodiversity, development and poverty reduction", which was recently launched at COP 11 in the Indian city Hyderabad. The tool enables policymakers to assess their countries’ progress in the integration of biodiversity and development, and identify barriers to progress.

REDD+ receives first report card PDF Print E-mail
Written by Albert Norström   
Friday, 19 October 2012 11:09

A new global assessment shows that impacts of actions under Reduction of Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) on biodiversity and carbon vary across forest types and landscape conditions.

Deforestation (e.g. by converting forests to agriculture) is one of the major sources of carbon dioxide emissions and a major cause of global biodiversity loss on Earth. The UN initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD+) seeks cations to reduce deforestation including conservation and sustainable management of forests. It aims to bring positive impacts for both biodiversity and carbon on a global scale.

Key findings of the preliminary assessment were released at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Hyderabad, India. The assessment has been prepared by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations' Global Forest Experts Panel (GFEP) and, with input of more than 50 leading scientists from around the world, will constitute the first comprehensive analysis to date of the relationship between biodiversity, forest management and REDD+.

New UN-report: Urban biodiversity more important than ever before PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fredrik Moberg   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 10:01

“I commend this study to policy-makers, planners and all who have a stake in creating ecologically sustainable urbanization for the benefit of humanity and the planet.” These are the words from Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, in a foreword of a new report entitled the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO).

The report highlights the role of cities in conserving biodiversity and providing opportunities for making the transition to an inclusive green economy in both the developing and developed world. The topic of the report is definitely relevant considering that, if current trends continue, by 2050 the global urban population is estimated to be 6.3 billion, nearly doubling the 3.5 billion urban dwellers worldwide in 2010.


Critical to people's health and well-being

The new report emphasises not only the unexpected wealth of urban biodiversity but also its role in generating crucial ecosystem services upon which large and small urban populations and communities rely for their food, water, and health. As such the report makes a strong argument for greater attention to be paid by urban planners and managers to the natural capital assets within their cities as one way toward realizing a range of targets related to sustainable development.

"Cities need to learn how to better protect and enhance biodiversity, because rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people's health and well-being," explains Professor Thomas Elmqvist from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and scientific editor of the CBO.

"We let them starve" - new book on global food politics PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 12:39

The former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has recently released a book entitled "We Let Them Starve: The Mass Destruction in The Third World". Unsurprisingly this has kicked up a real storm. From an interview with newsnet (the online presence of Swiss newspapers Basler Zeitung), although the tendency for collective accusation is worrisome, he brings up some of the complex issues (apart from global food production) that are at the heart of global starvation and chronic undernutrition - food speculation, national dept repayments and consumer behavior.

I haven't read the book yet, but its sailed right up on my must-read list.

Feeding the poor and building resilience PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 08:27

A while back we blogged about a study by Phalan et al, that took a stab at trying to answer which of two contrasting strategies seems best to meet rising food demand while causing the least damage to biodiversity. The two alternatives that were evaluated in that study were land sharing (low-intensive agriculture and biodiversity conservation are conducted on the same land) and land sparing (intensive agriculture is carried out separately from lands conserved to protect biodiversity). Phalan et al came to the conclusion that "land sparing is a more promising strategy for minimizing negative impacts of food production, at both current and anticipated future levels of production".

This is a debate that's not going to die in a long while. It is often claimed (UN, FAO etc), that there is a need for 70–100% more food to feed the Earth's growing population. At the same time the UN declared the current decade (2011–2020) as the ‘Decade of Biodiversity’ with the EU setting the targets of halting the loss of biodiversity and degradation ecosystem services as major goals and setting 2020 as the target for restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems. But if agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss, then we clearly need to find strategies that can reconcile these "conflicting" goals.

Human rights, science and development PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Thursday, 27 September 2012 13:03


Promoting a human rights approach to S&T advances will reinforce moves towards inclusive development. But implementation challenges remain. This is the focus of a great special feature on SciDev.net on human rights, science and development.


While there is a growing acceptance that enjoying the fruits of scientific knowledge is a basic human right, there are still gaps in how this right can be implemented in the context of social and economic development. Any serious attempts to transform our society, from the local to the global scales, towards sustainable ecological and social development needs to take human rights into account. This point needs to be hammered home, especially in light of the newly launched process of replacing the Millennium Development Goal with a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.

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