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 produce.
    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 development.

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 recommendations).

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,

Fishy systems
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 century.
    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 industrialized countries).

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 implement.

5) Combating climate change. Wide-ranging efforts are needed to tackle the myriad sources of carbon dioxide and hasten the transition to clean, renewable energy.

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.

Climate change
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 sea-temperature increase.
    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,

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 effect’).
    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 underdevelopment.
    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.”

/Albert Norström
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  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 vegetated land.
    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.”
/Maria Mutt

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  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, November 16.
    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.

/Fredrik Moberg
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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

Now you don’t have to travel to Stockholm to watch the Stockholm Seminars.
    Take the opportunity to watch leading scientists and other experts from around the world, including Nobel 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 environment.
    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 development.
    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 Moberg
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"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 countries.
    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 services assessment.
    – 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 Moberg
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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 Moberg
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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 Organization.
    – 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 practices”. releases/pr_800_en.html

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 management.
    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. index.html

The quote:

"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 systems disappears."

Vandana Shiva (physicist and environmental activist) in a recent interview: