Sustainable Development Update|
Issue 5, Volume 7, 2007
The Sustainable Development Update (SDU) focuses on the links between ecology, society and the economy. It is produced by Albaeco, an independent non-profit organisation. SDU is produced with support from Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Environment Policy Division.
Dr. Fredrik Moberg, Editor
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Food for thought and thought for food...
Do we have to make certain environmental sacrifices
in order to produce more food for the many poor
people starving around the world? Will there be
enough water to produce all the extra food that is needed in
the future to feed a growing human population? And what will
happen if a growing number of people in developing countries
adopt new water-consuming diets? Will the increased water
demand in agriculture mean that there will be no water left
for ecosystems? And how will climate change and increased
demand for biofuels influence the situation?
A growing number of question marks revolve around food,
climate, ecosystems and development. How do we build a
sustainable agriculture that can feed a world suffering from
climate change without repeating the mistakes of the green
revolution? It has now been painstakingly obvious that this
revolution wasn’t so green after all. A growing proportion
of the world’s agricultural landscapes has become steadily
degraded through the pressure of intensive, pesticide- and
chemical fertiliser based monocultures that produce agricultural
commodities and industrial livestock for global markets.
However, agriculture is of course an important factor for
the reduction of poverty. For the poorest people, economic
growth originating in agriculture is actually about four times
more effective in raising incomes than GDP growth originating
outside the sector, claims the latest World Development Report
from the World Bank. The report calls for much greater investment in
agriculture in developing countries, something that is motivated
by the fact that only 4 percent of official development
assistance goes to agriculture even though 75 percent of the
world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries.
But is it possible to develop agriculture without it
contributing to increased degradation of ecosystems? Yes,
says a new report “Food, Climate and Development” from the
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. It concludes that this
requires an agriculture based on the utilisation of ecosystem
services, local circulation of plant nutrients and local supply
of basic foods. This form of agriculture has the additional
benefit of using production resources that are locally available,
decreasing the dependence of fossil fuel and increasing the
resilience to climate change.
Similar conclusions are drawn by the FAO in its recent
publication “The State of Food and Agriculture”. They promote
the idea that carefully targeted payments to farmers could
serve as an approach to protect the environment and to address
growing concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss and
water supply. These are payments for real services farmers can
provide, much like farmers are paid for the rice or coffee they
So, almost all recent assessments of the global food situation
seem to agree that an ecosystem services-based agriculture, one
supported by diverse and healthy ecosystems, is the only longterm
viable option. Truly, this is food for thought... and thought
for food. Chew!
/Dr. Fredrik Moberg, Albaeco
| SDU - Feature|
Healthy oceans key to fighting poverty
Anyone familiar with the current
state of the world’s oceans might
have a hard time feeling optimistic.
However, a new report suggests
that by treating our seas with more
respect and using them wisely,
more benefits can be obtained from
these life-supporting systems while
also maintaining their health.
Because of the importance of
oceans for food security, poverty
reduction and human health, this
will be imperative for achieving
a long-lasting and sustainable
Oceans and coastal ecosystems are crucial
for global economic development,
food security, poverty reduction and
human health. Hundreds of millions of
people depend on fishing for food and
employment, especially in the world’s
poorest countries. Without well-managed
oceans and fisheries we will simply
not achieve a sustainable development.
But most coastal resources are today
suffering from overuse and degradation.
“Oceans in Peril – Protecting Marine
Biodiversity”, a recently released Worldwatch
Institute report, is surprisingly
positive when summarising the current
status of the world’s coastal and oceanic
ecosystems. It proposes that by treating
the oceans with more respect and by
using them more wisely, we can obtain
more from these life-supporting waters
while also maintaining healthy and diverse
marine ecosystems (see Box with
Oceans and fisheries regulations must adequately address the underlying problems of
poverty, hunger and under-development to be effective. Photo: Fisherman with a cast
net in Langkawi, Malaysia (Bent Christensen, azote.se).
The report begins on a dour note,
describing how marine ecosystems
are currently responding to the major
threats; the “troika” of overexploitation,
pollution and climate change. The everincreasing
demand for seafood, coupled
with the adoption of modern fishing techniques
such as freeze trawlers, powerful
boats and acoustic fish finders has led to
massive increases in fishing efforts this
Since 1950, total fish harvests have increased
six-fold, leaping from 25 million
to 158 million tons every year, with wild
caught fish accounting for 60 percent of
this total. Intuitively, such a rapid increase
in global fishing effort sounds unsustainable,
and the recent scientific consensus
corroborates this notion. In 2005, 76%
of the worlds fish stocks were classified
as fully exploited or overexploited, with
catastrophic shifts from high catches to
persistent low catches being reported for
nearly one in four fisheries. Perhaps the
best-known example of such a “regimeshift”
involved the Atlantic cod-fishery
off the coast of Newfoundland. The
declines began in the 1960s, and stocks
finally collapsed in 1991. A moratorium
imposed in 1992 closed the fishery to
commercial fleets, causing a loss of at
least 20,000 jobs and severely damaging
Newfoundland’s economy. Today, the
fishery remains closed and there are few
signs of recovery of the cod stocks.
Although such fishery collapses may
be reversible, examples such as the Newfoundland
case indicate that the time to
recovery may be considerably longer
than was previously thought, and that
these regime shifts can have substantial
effects on affected countries economies.
Fishing down the food-webs
Overfishing not only results in a general
decline of fish stocks, but also has the capacity
to alter the whole configuration of
marine food webs. For example, aggregated
globally there has been a decline in
the average trophic level – the position a
fish holds within the food web – of fish
caught. In essence, we catch smaller and
smaller fish lower and lower down in the
food webs. This effect, termed “fishing
down the food web”, has been observed
on a global scale and can, in its most extreme
form, result in once thriving fisheries
being transformed into gelatinous
soups dominated by jellyfish.
Partly as a response to declining fish
stocks, the activity of fish farming,
or aquaculture, has witnessed a rapid
expansion over the past three decades.
Although a traditional way of producing
food in many cultures, with roots stemming
as far back as 4,000 years, it has
now developed into an intensive, high-input
industry. It is the fastest-growing animal-
food production sector in the world,
and produces over 40 percent of all fish
consumed. But just as meat originating
from a factory farm differs in ecological
impact to that from animals raised on a
pasture, the differences between good
and bad aquaculture-raised organisms
are many. For example, fish farming that
focuses on large carnivorous species,
like salmon and tuna, consumes many
times more fish in the form of feed than
it produces for human consumption.
On the other side of the spectrum we
have organisms lower down the food
web, such as herbivorous fish, clams and
scallops that can provide sources of protein
without requiring any feeds.
6 recommendations for better
management of marine resources
1) A global network of fully protected marine
reserves, “national parks” that covers the open
seas and coastal areas can protect the full variety
of species and their habitats most effectively.
2) Fair and sustainable fisheries, e.g. addressing
the problems associated with the liberalization of
fish trade (identified as leading to overexploitation
of fish stocks and benefiting only a handful of
3) Mitigating bycatch of seabirds, turtles and
marine mammals. Education of fishers and the
adoption of modern bycatch mitigating technology,
such as acoustic alarms.
4) Targeting seafood buyers and the aquaculture
industry. Such a bottom-up approach – stimulating
the demand for “sustainable seafood” – can serve
as a parallel means to intergovernmental and
national policies, which tend to be difficult to
5) Combating climate change. Wide-ranging
efforts are needed to tackle the myriad sources of
carbon dioxide and hasten the transition to clean,
6) Equitable and sustainable management of
the high seas, e.g. through a new implementing
agreement under the UN Convention on the Law
of the Sea (UNCLOS). This would provide clear
mandates to implement reserve networks and
oversee a range of other unregulated activities.
But the largest threat to marine ecosystems
could very well be the looming
specter of human-induced climate
change. Increased levels of carbon dioxide
concentrations and the associated
rises in temperature have already been
linked to the many and widespread episodes
of coral bleaching.
Corals live in a symbiotic relationship
with microalgae that supply them
with energy from photosynthesis. Small
increases of even 1 °C above the summer
mean maximum can cause the partial or
total loss of these algae and their pigments,
causing the coral to turn brilliant
white. The bleaching is often temporary,
but it can reduce the reproductive capacity
and growth of corals, increase their
susceptibility to disease, and even result
in death. The extent of coral mortality
appears to increase with the intensity of
the bleaching event, which in turn is determined
by the size and duration of the
Six major cycles of mass coral bleaching,
affecting hundreds or thousands
of kilometers of reefs, have occurred
over the past 20 years, with a pattern
of increasing frequency and intensity.
The continued loss of reefs will have
devastating effects on the estimated tens
of millions of people, mainly in low-income
countries, who rely on coral reefs
as sources of daily sustenance.
The rising levels of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere are not only contributing
to the warming of the oceans, but are
also making them more acidic. Over the
past 200 years the oceans have absorbed
about half of the human-caused CO2
emissions, lowering the pH of the ocean
by about 0.1 unit, and it is estimated that
by 2100 ocean pH will drop a further 0.5
units. This is a reduction well outside the
range of natural variation and could have
a major impact on many marine organisms
(such as corals, sea urchins, shellfi
sh, starfish, mussels, and planktonic
organisms) that may not be able to form
calcium carbonate skeletons and shells if
the ocean is too acidic.
Photo: Nils Kautsky, azote.se
Road to a solution
But the situation is not all doom and
gloom. A recent surge in interest concerning
the implementation of large
networks of Marine Protected Areas
(MPAs) shows that a shift in perspectives
is occurring among both scientists and
fishermen. Not only do such protected
areas provide a safe haven for fish and
other organisms to breed and flourish,
they are also often reported to increase
size and abundance of harvested species
in areas adjacent to reserves (‘spill-over
Today a mere 0.1 percent of the oceans
enjoy fully protected status, an artifact of
the traditional focus of conservation activity
on terrestrial ecosystems. Although
more than 4,000 MPAs exist worldwide,
almost all are small-scale and coastal.
As the discourse on a global network of
these reserves highlights, there is an urgent
need to include the protection of the
high seas, or areas beyond national jurisdiction.
This is necessary to safeguard
against overfishing, illegal fishing, and
other expanding human activities.
However, given the many threats to
the world’s marine environments, MPAs
alone cannot be perceived as the panacea
for conservation of the world’s oceans.
Radical changes in the way our oceans
are managed outside protected areas are
also required.While governments have
adopted a wide range of well-meaning
oceans and fisheries regulations, many of
these have been ineffective because they
are either too weak and poorly enforced
or fail to adequately address the underlying
problems of poverty, hunger and
Moreover, most fisheries management
has been based on consideration of single
species rather that the whole ecosystem
of which they are part. An ecosystem approach
requires protection at the level of
the whole ecosystem, and that demands
on marine resources must be managed
within the limits of what the ecosystem
can provide indefinitely, rather than being
allowed to expand as demographic
and market forces dictate. An ecosystem
approach is also precautionary in nature,
meaning that a lack of knowledge should
not excuse decision-makers from taking
action, but rather lead them to err on the
side of caution.
The burden of proof must be placed on
those who want to undertake activities,
such as fishing or coastal development,
to show that these activities will not
harm the marine environment.
As the authors of the new Worldwatchreport
put it, “Current presumptions that
favour freedom to fish and freedom of
the seas will need to be replaced with the
new concept of freedom for the seas.”
| Sustainability School|
"Biochar, soil fertility, climate change and development"
Is it possible to simultaneously tackle some of the
most urgent environmental problems of our time; soil
degradation, food security, water contamination from
agrochemicals and climate change? A material called
biochar might be the answer.
By the acting of wind and water through ages of time mountains
are grinded to particles, which subsequently develop
into fertile soils by the action of living organisms. Like fossil
fuels, soil is a limited resource in a human time-scale, but
whereas fossil fuels are used up, soil – if not blown into the
oceans – either loses or evolves its fertility and capacity to
provide a complex set of ecosystem services to society.
A climate with more extreme weather events will increase
the erosion of soils as they are easily blown or washed away,
especially if not protected by vegetation. The capacity to support
vegetation depends on the soil’s chemical- and microbiological
composition together with its content of organic
matter and physical structure.
Unsustainable agriculture, erosion by livestock and deforestation
expose soils to the eroding forces of nature. Land
degradation with declining vegetation, in its turn, reinforces
climate change by reducing the terrestrial ecosystem’s capacity
to sequester carbon and by altering the water cycle.
Moreover, different solar reflectivity (what scientists refer to
as albedo) implies another link between land degradation and
global warming as barren land tends to reflect less heat than
The bright side is that this can be influenced by human action.
Consequently, soil management can be viewed as being
at the nexus of sustainability, being central in climate change,
biodiversity, water supply, food security and poverty reduction.
Together with the growing awareness of forests as potential
carbon sinks, the interest in carbon sequestration in soils is
gaining momentum. In the same manner as forests are both
important for climate regulation and fundamental for biodiversity,
soil conservation means a synergistic approach to
climate mitigation, land productivity
and food security.
Application of organic matter
to soil in the form of residual
biomass and manure is a well
known practice, especially in organic
agriculture, but the carbon
stored in this way is feedstuff for
worms and micro organisms
inhabiting the soil. In this process
the carbon tied up as organic matter decomposes quite
quickly and is released to the atmosphere as CO2. However,
if biomass is combusted in a process called pyrolysis (in an
oxygen-free environment), then black carbon or “biochar” is
produced. This material is much more resistant to decomposition
when stored in soil.
Furthermore, it has been shown that biochar applied to
soils has a high affinity for nutrients thereby decreasing the
leakage of, most importantly, active nitrogen. In spite of, or
as a consequence of this adsorption, biochar enhances the
accessibility of nutrients, especially phosphorus, to plants.
In addition, biochar seems to enhance mykorrhiza, support
beneficial bacteria, improve the soil’s water-holding capacity
and maintain soil pH close to optimal for plant growth.
Does it sound to good to be true? Even though most scientists
say that much remains to be investigated, there are now
a number of suggestions made by scientists to apply biochar
to soils in order to improve soil fertility and establish longterm
sinks for atmospheric carbon. Johannes Lehmann at the
Cornell University is one of them. He states that biochar have
the potential to be “used effectively to address some of the
most urgent environmental problems of our time; soil degradation
and food security, water contamination from agrochemicals
and climate change.”
| In Brief|
"We are at the tipping point of climate change"
The Nobel Peace Prize Winners of the IPCC
recently released their so-called synthesis
report. “I am not scare-mongering, but I
believe we are nearing a tipping point”,
writes UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon in a commentary.
– We all agree.
Climate change is
real, and we humans
are its chief cause. Yet
even now, few people
fully understand the
gravity of the threat,
or its immediacy,
writes Ki-Moon in
the Herald tribune,
He writes this as a response to the new Synthesis
Report from the IPCC that was launched at
the 27th session of the IPCC in Valencia, Spain.
Earlier this year, the IPCC released the other three
reports: “The physical science basis” (February);
“Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (April);
and “Mitigation of Climate Change” (May).
In fact, there are really no new scientific findings
in the synthesis report, rather it presents some
of the major findings of the previous three reports
in a more readable and concise way. It is as such
the most policy-relevant document the IPCC produces
and it will now, hopefully, be read by policy
makers, governments and industry.
The synthesis report is sobering reading, writes
Ki-Moon, and concludes he has always considered
global warming to be a matter of utmost
urgency, but now he believes we are on the verge
of a catastrophe if we do not act:
– For too long, we have underestimated the urgency
of climate change. It is time to wake up.
He refers to what climate scientists call “tipping
points”, thresholds where a small rise in temperature
can cause abrupt changes in the environment
that unleash runaway global warming that will be
beyond our control.
Nonetheless, Ki-Moon also mentions a number
of promising signs, including the growth of
renewable energy sources and the promising development
within global business that “is going
‘green’ in a big way”.
Help to developing countries
The UN Climate Change Summit is coming up,
it will take place in Bali, Indonesia, from 3-14
December. The new syntheis report will of course
be a major contribution to the discussions during
the Summit that was actually postponed to allow the
IPCC Synthesis Report to come out first.
Now, everybody hopes for a radical climate
change deal that all nations can agree on. It must
include financial strategies for helping developing
nations to set up their own programs for fighting
and adapting to climate change.
Watch leading sustainability scientists on web-tv
Watch top scientists presenting their research
on sustainable development in the Stockholm
Seminars. Now on web-tv from albaeco.com.
Now you don’t have to travel to
Stockholm to watch the Stockholm
Take the opportunity to
leading scientists and
other experts from around
the world, including
Peace Prize Laureate Wangari
Maathai and leading political
scientist Elinor Ostrom.
Dive into the complexity of
coral reef ecosystems with Terry Hughes, learn all about threshold-
effects in nature and society from Marten Scheffer or listen
to a mind-wobbling lecture by Will Steffen. The latter is the
most recent addition and in it Will Steffen explores whether
technology alone can solve the seemingly intractable global
environmental and socio-economic problems we now face, “or
are more fundamental shifts in societal values required”? In his
talk Professor Steffen also warns that there is currently too much
focus on climate and too little on other important changes in the
The Stockholm Seminars cover a broad range of perspectives
on sustainability issues and are focused on the need for a sound
scientific basis for sustainable development policy.
The Stockholm Seminars are arranged by seven interdisciplinary
institutes to communicate scientific results on sustainable
The seminars are given at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
and are visited by a large audience, including scientists,
students, media and policy makers in the public and private sector.
Now many more can access the seminars through web-tv.
/Fredrik MobergMore at:
"Urgent need for a permanent ecosystem services assessment,
but the world also needs to go from assessments to action"
Ecosystem services must be better reflected
in global policies and there is an urgent need
for a follow-up of the Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment. This was the conclusion of “The
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Follow-up
Workshop”, held 22–23 October at the Swedish
Ministry of the Environment.
We have had a lot of articles on the Millennium
Ecosystem Assessment (MA) in this newsletter.
It is a research program launched in 2001 with
support from the United Nations by the previous
UN Secretary-General KofiAnnan. The results
were published in 2005 and proved that society is
exhausting the planet’s ecosystem services, and that the current
decline of these services presents a serious obstacle in meeting
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for many developing
Now many talk about the need for a follow-up and perhaps a permanent
regularly occurring global ecosystem service assessment.
This was also the objective of the recent “Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment Follow-up Workshop” in Stockholm. Sida’s Mats
Segnestam was one of the chairmen. He said he was very happy
and proud that Sida has provided so much support to the MAprocess,
but then continued on a more negative note stating that
he was “extremely worried when it comes to the remarkable lack
of political response to the MA”.
The workshop, that was organised to respond to the challenge
of substantially increasing the impact of the MA, included representatives
from e.g. UNEP, UNDP, the European Environment
Agency, World Resources Institute, Sida, SwedBio, Stockholm
Resilience Centre and the Swedish Minister for the Environment.
Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute
(WRI), noted that “we should not be surprised that it takes some
time, in a sense we are trying to change a process of two centuries
of thinking and experience created by the industrial revolution”.
The workshop at the Ministry of the Environment
resulted in a number of concrete
outcomes that will pave the way for better
implementation and communication of the
MA-findings and explore the possibilities to
initiate a regularly occurring global ecosystem
– One of the most important aspects in this
respect is to get science into politics, and
that requires effective resource allocations,
budgets, and effective organisational structures, said Swedish
Minister for Environment Andreas Carlgren.
Bridging the science-policy gap
Johan Rockström, who is the Director of both the newly established
Stockholm Resilience Centre and Stockholm Environment
Institute, echoed the minister and stated that there is an urgent
need to bridge the science-policy gap and link climate change,
ecosystem services and development.
A large part of Johan’s contribution to the discussions dealt
with the concept of resilience, the capacity of a system to deal
with change and continue to develop. “Climate change does not
happen in isolation, its impact is determined by the resilience of
the social and ecological systems which it filters through”.
When concluding the workshop Mats Segnestam said that he
hoped that we can now go from an era of assessments to one of
conclusions and implementation. Mats also emphasised that he
has indeed been encouraged by the close dialogue between Sida,
the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
about the follow-up of the MA. “I truly hope that Sweden will
continue to be able to give coherent and strong support to this
extremely important process”. “Sida is proud to have provided
support to the MA follow-up, through SwedBio, and we hope that
other aid-organisations will accompany us”.
/Fredrik MobergMore at:
Powerless spectators, coping actors or adaptive managers?
How do communities react to changes in climate and
ecosystems? It all depends on aspects like technological
options, institutions, leadership, motivation and how
much they invest in long-term management of ecosystem
services. This is concluded in a recent synthesis of
experiences from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
regarding local communities’ adaptive capacity.
Many poor local communities around the world now have to
adapt because they face enormous challenges due to ecological
and climatic changes resulting in conflicts, new policies and
changes in livelihoods. The appropriateness of their
responses varies a lot, conclude Christo
Fabricius, Rhodes University, South Africa,
and his colleagues in a recent Special
Feature of the web-based science journal
Ecology and Society.
Based on their synthesis, three broad categories of
adaptive communities are identified. (1) “Powerless spectator”
communities have a low adaptive capacity as they lack financial
and/or technological options. Moreover, they often lack natural
resources, skills, institutions, and networks. (2) “Coping actors”,
on the other hand, do have the capacity to adapt, but they do
not really perceive the close coupling between their society and
ecological systems. Combined with a lack of leadership, vision,
and motivation, this typically leads to short term responses. The
third category identified, (3) “Adaptive manager” communities,
have both adaptive capacity and governance capacity, and they
invest in the long-term management of ecosystem services. This
requires features like leadership, vision, the formation of knowledge
networks and high levels of motivation.
Such adaptive managers are better equipped to deal with confl
icts, make difficult trade-offs between their short- and long-term
well-being, and implement rules for ecosystem management.
This improves the capacity of the ecosystem
to continue providing services.
Short-term coping responses, on the
other hand, tend to lead to reduced adaptive
capacity so that communities’ options
for coping with change (political, economic, or ecological)
are diminished or lost, argue the authors. The end
result is far too often that they become trapped in a downward
spiral of increased vulnerability. In the face of global change we
all have to become more of adaptive managers!
/Fredrik MobergMore at:
New climate change alliance aims to
benefit millions of world’s poor
A new partnership between the European Union and developing
countries aims to help the world’s poorest to tackle the effects
of climate change, according to the World Meteorological
– Climate change is a global issue, but the world’s least
developed and other poor countries are the most vulnerable
to the possible effects of climate change, said Michel Jarraud,
Secretary-General of the WMO - the leading United Nations
agency on weather and climate issues.
Projections show that least developed and vulnerable
countries, along with small island developing States, will be the
hardest hit by climate change. These countries have much fewer
resources available for adaptation, if their populations must
leave their livelihoods behind due to sea level rises or a lack of
drinking water for example, millions will be forced to migrate to
other regions of the world.
The Initiative to establish a Global Climate Change Alliance
between the European Union and poor developing countries
was proposed by the European Commissioner for Development
and Humanitarian Assistance, Louis Michel.
WMO says that “European countries can use the alliance
to seek stronger commitments from developing countries to
promote sustainability practices, including increased effort
to curb deforestation and environmentally sound agricultural
Want to slow global warming? Cut back
on red meat!
An FAO-report released last year received a lot of
media attention when stating that the agriculture
sector accounts for more greenhouse-gas
emissions than that of transport. Hence, if we
really want do something about global warming
we should not only reduce car driving, switch to renewable
energy resources and buy energy-saving light-bulbs. We must
also reduce our consumption of meat. Now, almost a year later,
a study published in the renown medical journal The Lancet
has calculated how large reduction of meat eating the world
needs. The study proposes that developed countries should cut
their meat consumption to 90 g per day. Today, people living in
the rich countries of the North eat, on average, their own body
weight in meat every year (224 g/day). In low-income countries,
on the other hand, the daily average is less than 50 g.
Eating less red meat would also help to tackle obesity and
decrease cancer risks. In order to cut the gases emitted by
livestock both the average consumption of animal products
and the emissions from production must be reduced. Producing
and transporting meat (including fossil fuels used to produce
fertiliser to grow feed, and clearing vegetation for grazing)
accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related
activities. Furthermore, cattle rearing also generates 65 percent
of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the global
warming potential of CO2) and 37 percent of all human-induced
methane (23 times as warming as CO2).
Environmental science database made freely
accessible to over 100 developing countries
An important step to bridge the North-South scientific gap and
digital divide within the environmental field has recently been
taken. More than 100 low income nations now have access to
an extensive on-line database from prominent environmental
science journals. It is called the “Online Access to Research
in the Environment” project and involves over 300 publishers,
key scientific societies and associations, including the UN
Environment Programme, Yale University, and the International
Association of Scientific Technical and Medical Publishers.
– Providing practitioners, researchers and scientists with
online access to scientific research on the environment has been
a long-held dream and desire by institutions around the world,
said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
The database was launched a year ago and offered free or
low-cost service to 70 of the world’s poorest nations (per capital
incomes below $1,000). Now, in its second phase, the initiative
has added 37 more countries, areas and territories – including
Algeria, the Maldives, Suriname and Vanuatu – with per capita
incomes ranging between $1,000 and $3,000.
Over 1,300 peer reviewed science journals are now available
in a wide range of disciplines, including e.g. Climate Change,
Renewable Energy, Environmental Economics, Environmental
Law, Natural Environmental Disasters and Biodiversity.
45%...of all fish consumed by
humans worldwide is raised
on farms, and as global capture
fisheries are declining fish
farming must increase even more in the future. This was
the message FAO gave to a recent high level meeting on
aquaculture and sustainable development. FAO Director-
General Jacques Diouf cautioned, however, that the
future expansion of aquaculture must be promoted and
managed in a responsible fashion. This requires good
policy decisions regarding the use of natural resources
like water, land, seed and feed as well as sound environmental
If done sustainably, aquaculture can indeed help
reduce malnutrition by providing food rich in protein,
fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, while also improving
food security and creating jobs. However, many current
aquaculture practices are polluting the environment and
threatening the integrity of wild stocks.
What the world needs is something else than intensive
farming of carnivorous shrimp and salmon that consume
more fish (as feed) than they produce. Less intensive,
multi species cultures, on the other hand, can reduce
waste and improve food supply, employment and income
for the poor.
"We have to
recognize that biodiversity
is the real capital of food
and farming and linked to
it is cultural diversity – that
we are richer to the extent
we have diversified food
cultures in the world. We are
poorer as the biodiversity of
our farms disappears and the
cultural diversity of our food
Vandana Shiva (physicist and
environmental activist) in a