Guide to the World Conservation Strategy

The aim

The aim of the World Conservation Strategy is to help advance the achievement of sustainable development through the conservation of living resources. The Strategy:

  1. explains the contribution of living resource conservation to human survival and to sustainable development;

  2. identifies the priority conservation issues and the main requirements for dealing with them;

  3. proposes effective ways for achieving the Strategy's aim.

The Strategy is intended to stimulate a more focussed approach to living resource conservation and to provide policy guidance on how this can be carried out. It concentrates on the main problems directly affecting the achievement of conservation's objectives; and on how to deal with them through conservation. In particular, the Strategy identifies the action needed both to improve conservation efficiency and to integrate conservation and development.

The users

The Strategy is intended chiefly for three groups of user (none of which is wholly separate from the others):

  1. Government policy makers and their advisers. Few governments have the financial and technical resources to address all of the problems of living resource conservation at once. Therefore they need to know what needs to be done first. Accordingly, the Strategy both recommends ways of overcoming the main obstacles to conservation and provides guidance on what action is most important. The Strategy is relevant to any level of government with significant responsibilities for planning and managing the use of living resources.

  2. Conservationists and others directly concerned with living resources. For this group, the Strategy indicates those areas where conservation action is most urgently needed and where it is likely to yield the greatest and most lasting results. It also proposes ways in which conservation can participate more effectively in the development process, thereby increasing the likelihood of its being positively received by the development community and of helping to ensure that development is sustainable.

  3. Development practitioners, including aid agencies, industry and commerce, and trade unions. For this group the Strategy demonstrates that conservation improves the prospects of sustainable development and proposes ways of integrating conservation into the development process. It also attempts to identify those areas where the interests of conservation and of development are most likely to coincide and therefore where a closer partnership between the two processes would be particularly advantageous to both.

Arrangement of the text

The Strategy consists of 20 double page sections. The introduction (section 1), which defines key terms, is followed by three groups of sections. The first group (sections 27) describes the contribution of each of the objectives of conservation to human survival and wellbeing; outlines the main threats to them; and identifies the priority requirements for achieving the objectives. The second group (sections 814) sets out a strategy for action at the national and subnational levels. A framework for the strategy is outlined; then each of the main obstacles to conservation is described, together with recommendations for dealing with the obstacles. The third group (sections 1520) is devoted to international action to stimulate and support national and subnational action. Section 20 includes a checklist of priority requirements, national actions and international actions.

Priority issues

The priority issues discussed in the Strategy are (numbers in parentheses refer to sections): reduction in quality and quantity of agricultural land (2, 5, 16) and grazing land (4, 7, 16); soil erosion and the degradation of catchment areas and watersheds (2,5, 11, 16, 19); desertification (2, 5, 16); loss of the support systems of fisheries (2, 5, 11, 18, 19); extinction of species, subspecies and varieties (3, 6, 15, 17); overexploitation of fish and other wildlife (4, 7, 11, 18, 19); deforestation (4, 7, 16); climate alteration and air pollution (18); narrow sectoral approach to conservation (8, 9); failure to integrate conservation and development (9, 20); inadequate environmental planning and irrational resource allocation (10); inadequate or unenforced legislation (11); poor organization (11); lack of trained personnel (12); lack of information (12); lack of support for conservation (13); lack of conservation-based rural development (14). Most of these problems are common in both developed and developing countries. Several, however, such as erosion, desertification, deforestation and lack of conservation-based rural development, are much more acute in developing countries than in developed ones.

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