22. A MAP for Conservation in a New Era

This book, and the World Conservation Forum that inspired it, has highlighted many issues and concerns as well as opportunities. We applaud the arrival of ethical and inclusive approaches to biodiversity conservation in general. We recognize the primacy of climate change as a threat but also note that “older” issues such as habitat degradation, overexploitation and invasive species have not gone away and indeed are entwined with climate change. We see the potential opportunities for biodiversity to help solve many of humanity's most pressing problems. This book has confirmed that not only is nature important for its own sake but it is important for human well-being as well.

As potential approaches to conservation were discussed throughout this volume, several commonalities emerged. Conservation today will need to address the specifics of the various issues but a few key points apply across the board – a MAP for the future of conservation.

These include:

1) Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services in all sectors

2) Adapting to change through diversity, creativity and respect for nature

3) Promoting policies that support equity and rights as integral to conservation.


The paradigm of ecosystem services crystallizes the interdependency of our lives and our environment. It also provides means by which we can measure and monitor the impact of our actions and more easily establish costs and benefits of those actions. Ecosystem services also provide an entry point into many seemingly non-environmental areas, perhaps the most visible of which have been efforts to incorporate environment as an essential part of development.

An important step to take in mainstreaming is to harmonize language across disciplines. IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) recognizes the need to “speak a common language” in order to reach a broad spectrum of audiences and help those audiences understand IUCN's classification system for protected areas (Bishop et al., 2004). Use of medical jargon has been identified as a factor interfering with patient health because they simply don't understand what their doctor is telling them (Zeng and Tse, 2006). If conservationists really want to see a world changed for the better in the coming decades, we will need to reach out to new audiences and speak to them in language that makes sense to them. The chapters on energy (Chapter 8), armed conflict (Chapter 9), disasters (Chapter 10), human health (Chapter 11), technology (Chapter 13), the private sector (Chapter 15), agriculture (Chapter 20) and cities (Chapter 21) are all attempts in this direction. Speaking of ecosystem services instead of biodiversity is another step in that direction and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is building on this to bring the economic and biodiversity communities together. We will also need to make use of the many new communications and awareness tools at our disposal. Gone are the days when knowledge could be passed only through personal interaction or books. Wikis, blogs, e-courses online instead of in the classroom, and who knows what else will be in the future of sharing conservation science.

With growing appreciation of the role that nature can play in supporting poverty reduction and development, governments have the evidence they need to support investments in nature as a fundamental means to support sustainable development across all sectors. In addition, many donor agencies are now taking steps to “mainstream” environment as a cross-cutting issue. By mainstreaming is meant “The process(es) by which environmental considerations are brought to the attention of organizations and individuals involved in decision-making on the economic, social and physical development of a country (at national, sub-national and/ or local levels), and the process(es) by which environment is considered in taking those decisions” (IIED, 2009). Mainstreaming environment in development requires ensuring that recipient countries include environment in their requests and that donor countries ensure that environment is included in their projects. Governments seeking a better future are now looking at the role of environment in their national planning and deciding that it counts (Box 22.1). As biodiversity's role in those processes is fundamental, mainstreaming therefore is about biodiversity.

But mainstreaming, considered as sustainability, also influences the private sector. Environmental issues, once regarded as irrelevant to economic activity, today are dramatically rewriting the rules for business, investors and consumers. Companies that are taking sustainability seriously have fared better than others in the recent economic crisis (AT Kearney, 2009).

Box 22.1 Updating Tanzania's PRSP: national-level environmental mainstreaming for poverty reduction

Tanzania's new National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP) or Mkukuta represents a new, more comprehensive approach to poverty reduction. In particular it pays greater attention to across-the-board issues such as environmental sustainability that contribute to both poverty reduction and growth. This follows the realization by the government of Tanzania, national stakeholders and development partners that the first PRSP failed to properly address the environment and other important major issues, essential to achieving sustainable poverty reduction and growth. Fifteen of the NSGRP's 108 targets in the Mkukuta are directly related to the environment and natural resources, and interventions on the environment are expected to contribute to other targets. Action on the environment is expected to help achieve governance and accountability goals. A key feature of the review leading to the NSGRP was national ownership. It was coordinated out of the Vice President's office, and the implementation of extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders on content and focus.

Source: UNEP 2008b, The Environment Times, http://www.grida.no/publications/et/ep4/page/2641.aspx

Longer term sustainability, though, will need the environment to be mainstreamed everywhere – especially in individual lifestyles. The choices we make – from the food we eat to the cars we drive to the way we relax – all affect nature. As we become aware of the nature of those impacts, it is incumbent on us to take responsibility for our own actions and to join governments and business in a global effort in support of a healthier and more productive environment.

Mainstreaming conservation efforts at an institutional level and managing individual behaviour are both necessary for a sustainable future. This book has included many examples of actions anyone can take to mainstream the environment in their own life. For example:

  1. Pursue a carbon neutral lifestyle through conscious energy choices.

  2. Check water footprints and manage water consumption at home.

  3. Consume in an ecologically-friendly manner – support certification programmes, follow the 3R's – reduce, recycle and reuse.

  4. Support and vote for government policies that support conservation of the environment.


As we have described throughout this book, human society is currently developing faster than at any other time in its history and is constantly being challenged by the scale and consequences of social, economic and environmental change. In terms of addressing conservation challenges in the coming decades, one constant must be integrated into our thinking and planning – the need to cope with constant change

As human population continues to grow, and concentrates in urban areas, the impacts on natural resources' ability to provide food, fibre and fuel are increasingly evident. Global fisheries are collapsing, forests are disappearing, and agricultural choices are now influenced by global energy needs as well as food requirements. Rapidly growing urban areas are driving a sustained, but perhaps unsustainable, increase in the timber trade, agriculture, stock raising and mining, resulting, in turn, in deforestation and changes in land use. And as migration may be one major strategy in climate change adaptation planning, especially for those living in coastal areas, managing that population shift and its impact will be critical.

But it's not just provisioning services that are affected. Supporting and regulating services that ensure optimal conditions for human health are also at risk. Overwhelming evidence points to human demographic changes as the major direct and indirect factor contributing to the increase in infectious disease (Chapter 11).

Our rapidly changing world is also having a profound effect on the cultural services associated with nature. Human culture is inextricably linked to the environment in which we live and the challenges facing our environment are also threatening cultures around the world. Scholars have estimated that 60–90% of today's 6,900 languages may disappear within the next century (Romaine, 2007), a projected extinction rate even higher than that cited by IUCN's Red List for Threatened Species for any of the major taxa. Losing languages means also losing associated knowledge and practices, some of which may be vital for our future in adapting to changing climate. Conversely, losing biodiversity means loss of the foundation for many cultural beliefs and practices.

All services are also being affected by environmental changes resulting from climate change, especially. As just one example mentioned frequently throughout this book, invasive alien species, already recognized as a major source of biotic and economic losses, are inherently species that adapt well to change and will likely demonstrate increased spread and impacts.

Managing the impacts of change will require a two pronged approach – mitigation and adaptation – and this approach is equally applicable across the other aspects of change that we are experiencing.

Wherever possible, we must mitigate the magnitude of impacts of the change on the environment – be it decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or managing population migration or shifting energy mixes. But we must also recognize that impacts of change are already being felt, and because of lag times in impacts being observed, it is likely that more intense impacts will be seen before any mitigation would have an effect. Therefore, adaptation is as necessary as mitigation. And adaptation must be dynamic as we are living in a constantly adapting environment, not a static one.

Ideally, all planning should be based on processes and not on state so planning based on delivery of ecosystem services provides a useful model that promotes adaptive management. Adaptive management and monitoring are essential elements of such an approach. Adaptive management is an approach to management that integrates regular monitoring and updating of plans and strategies based on the results of that monitoring. It is a means by which to ensure that any use of resources is sustainable and is also an important mechanism to deal with any uncertainties inherent in natural resource management planning. Plans should focus on addressing changes, threats and responses. Technologies such as computer modelling tools are available to help (Pressey et al., 2007).

Figure 22.1 Feedback loops associated with adaptive management (CBD, 2003)

Underpinning action to mitigate and adapt to change is the need for improved understanding of the processes by which these influences are creating change in the environment. What supports ecological resilience and robustness and where are the tipping points to extinction? In addition, while recognizing that the environment has an intrinsic existence value, enhancing understanding of the many economic values of nature will help in making the economic case for investing in environment. As the global community is now focusing on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and, potentially, a post-2015 framework for action, a better understanding of the role of the environment, especially for poverty reduction and development, will certainly help in assuring adequate investment in conservation. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a review of the value of nature that will be launched at Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in 2010 will be a major step forward in this regard. In addition, applying economic theory to ecosystem management may provide new insights into resource management and better understanding of trade-offs being made when decisions are taken about using or not using those resources (Perrings, 2006).

In addition to improved understanding of impacts and options for action, implementing effective decisions also requires establishing partnerships across sectors and philosophies. Business, government programmes, development aid and local communities will need to join together towards common objectives. Institutional structures evolve, perceptions change and emerging technology opens up new opportunities. The development of an increasingly global society produces both problems and opportunities. Addressing these in a way that ensures quality of life for both present and future generations will require new visions and new approaches.

Innovation is central to today's world and a key ingredient in responding to and adapting to changes that result from an ever more complex world characterized by increasing human population and declining resources base. Thus innovation will continue to be the imperative and hope for a sustainable world that many envision for the future.

How can conservation spur innovation? What are the most innovative ideas emerging from the WCC? Who are the new partners? This book points the way to some of the answers.

Pragmatism may be the key to it all, recognizing that win-win solutions may not be possible and agreeing to trade-offs to allow a “win more, lose less” option.


Governance is the interactions among structures, processes and traditions that determine how power and responsibilities are exercised, how decisions are taken, and how citizens or other stakeholders have their say in the management of natural resources. Governance is a means to a result and not the result in itself. Governance happens at multiple levels (local to global) in multiple sectors (public and private) and in multiple cultures. Ideally all this activity should be mutually reinforcing so that decisions taken at international levels should enable action at local levels. If governance fails, the consequences can mean more than loss of natural resources. As Milledge et al. (2007) point out, “governance shortfalls [in the forestry sector] can ultimately affect the prospects for achieving national economic growth and poverty reduction objectives”.

Definitions of what “good governance” is have been the subject of many reviews (Bosselman et al., 2008). The Convention on Biological Diversity has recognized, through Decision VII/11, that good governance is essential for application of its Ecosystem Approach.

Through several resolutions (WCC 3.012 and WCC 4.037) and the IUCN Programme, IUCN has recognized the importance of effective governance and defined the principles underpinning good governance as:

IUCN's vision, “a just world that values and conserves nature” will simply not be possible if these principles are not the foundation of the conservation work that we do. Not only is it an ethical imperative but it also makes sense: effective conservation is achieved when these fundamental principles are integrated into our work.


IUCN is committed to equity both through its vision and mission as well as through numerous policy statements, including the Gender Policy and policies on rights-based approaches. The work carried out within IUCN to promote gender equality is based on two principles:

(1) gender equity is a prerequisite for conservation since women make up approximately half of biological resource users
     and without their support no conservation policy can be efficient and/or sustainable;

(2) conservation of biological diversity is an opportunity to promote gender equality as it promotes the revision of both
     existing and the introduction of new practices that offer the possibility of empowering women.

As acknowledged throughout this volume, women are among the most vulnerable to changing circumstances (climate, disasters, poverty). On the other hand, IUCN promotes an approach that goes beyond considering women merely as a marginalized group by highlighting the significant role played by women in natural resources management and acknowledges women as resources of essential knowledge and skills for conservation.

Research shows that environmental management projects that include women's participation (and thereby their experience and traditional knowledge in resource management) are more effective (IWSC, 1988). A World Bank review of 121 rural water supply projects found that women's participation was among the variables strongly associated with project effectiveness. Furthermore, it was found that the failure to take gender differences and inequalities into account could result in failed projects (Narayan, 1995).

Throughout this volume, we have seen that equity and gender equality are of concern across many of the issues discussed from poverty reduction to climate change to energy to water management. Engaging women into governance as main actors and integrating their knowledge can significantly enhance the efficiency and sustainability of conservation initiatives. The issue of equity and its importance is often expressed in terms of costs if it is not incorporated as opposed to benefits if it is. Take the case of gender equality. In no region do women and men have equal social, economic, and legal rights and the result of that inequality is explored in a report from the World Bank (2001). The findings show that the costs of gender inequality can include higher incidence of AIDS, poor nutrition, higher fertility and higher child mortality. All of these can have subsequent impacts on the environment.

Agarwal (2002) reporting on community forest management in India noted that several basic inequalities (for example, unequal division of labour across men and women, unequal access to resources, social norms and perceptions of the role of women) resulted in decreased women's participation in management of resources upon which they depend as well as decreased benefits to women since these are often distributed on a household basis where men are given the benefit on behalf of the household. As noted below, full participation is an important factor in effective conservation and sustainable resource-use management decisions.


A rights-based approach to conservation, for IUCN, means conservation that incorporates consideration and respect for human rights, tenure and resource access rights and/or customary rights of indigenous people and local communities (IUCN, 2008e). IUCN has adopted this policy in recognition of the fact that some conservation practices, such as forced resettlement or sedentarization, may have detrimental effects on human well-being and IUCN, through its Environmental Law Centre (ELC), has prepared a set of principles concerning human rights in conservation (Box 22.2)

Scherr (1999) reports that recognizing property rights in respect of resources such as land, water and trees, as important household assets for local people, has been found to play a fundamental role in the poverty-environment nexus. Gbetibouo (2009) in reviewing southern African farmers reported that tenure rights were one of the factors affecting ability to adapt to climate change. Fisher and Oviedo (2008) note that “environmental rights can sometimes be interpreted in ways that undermine human rights”, and urge that discussion about rights-based approaches to conservation move beyond property/access rights to resources to include a broader set of issues including human rights and justice.

Devolving authority to local people has been successful in forest conservation in Tanzania (Barrow et al., 2003), Ethiopia (IIRR, 2000), and China (Oviedo, 2006). Rights-based approaches have been vital in supporting indigenous people's livelihoods and culture as well. Examples include providing title and rights of the southern forests in Guyana to the Wai Wai with which they created Guyana's first and only Amerindian protected area (Janki and Sose, 2008) and comanagement in Waza Logone, Cameroon. In the early 1990s, IUCN initiated development of co-management organizations including recognizing and expanding local community land-use rights within the park, and devolving management authority to communities within the park “periphery zone resulted in improved ecosystem health, and members of participating communities reporting positive outcomes in terms of resource access and reduced conflict” (Scholte et al., 2006).

Box 22.2 Principles concerning human rights in conservation prepared by the Environmental Law Centre:

  1. Promote the obligation of all State and non-State actors planning or engaged in policies, projects, programmes or activities with implications for nature conservation, to secure for all potentially affected persons and peoples, the substantive and procedural rights that are guaranteed by national and international law;

  2. Ensure prior evaluation of the scope of conservation policies, projects, programmes or activities, so that all links between human rights and the environment are identified, and all potentially affected persons are informed and consulted;

  3. Ensure that planning and implementation of conservation policies and actions reflect such prior evaluation, are based on reasoned decisions and therefore do not harm the vulnerable, but support as much as possible the fulfilment of their rights in the context of nature and natural resource use;

  4. Incorporate guidelines and tools in project and programme planning to ensure monitoring and evaluation of all interventions and their implications for human rights of the people involved or potentially affected which will support better accountability and start a feedback loop; and

  5. Support improvement of governance frameworks on matters regarding the legal and policy frameworks, institutions and procedures that can secure the rights of local people in the context of conservation and sustainable resource use.

  6. Source: WCC 4.056


Rio Principle 10 states that “Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level”. Participatory conservation as part of natural resource management has been shown to result in improved status of that resource – for example forests in Tanzania (Blomley et al., 2008).

Inclusive approaches also support integration of many separate but relevant elements into sustainable resource management. For example, the Newfoundland and Labrador Government wanted to strengthen management of the Davis Strait sub-species of polar bear and created an inclusive document that combined local, indigenous, and scientific knowledge into a Management Plan that is a “living document” that will continue to be updated as new information is available. The Newfoundland and Labrador Management Plan goes further than most species management plans by including not only scientific and local knowledge, but also the traditional knowledge of Nain elders about the polar bear's habitat, climate change, human encounters, and traditional hunting (MacLeod, 2008).


Shaping a sustainable future will require the concerted efforts of all of society. In Transition to Sustainability: Towards a Humane and Diverse World, Adams and Jeanrenaud (2008) outline the need for a “one planet economy”, a “rejuvenated global environmental movement”, and “institutional architecture that supports change”. Failure to act now will incur high costs, not just monetary, for the future. Conserving genes, species and ecosystems will save substantial long-term costs but requires significant investments today. What will it take to convince people to make these investments?

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