Sustainable Regional Development
Economies in harmony with nature
Poor people are often highly dependent on functioning ecosystems and ecosystem services for food, construction materials and energy, but might unwillingly overexploit these limited resources. As water levels drop, microclimates change and resources become scarcer poverty and food insecurity are in turn enforced. Economic development is often promoted as an answer to these problems – but it rarely is.
Stable household incomes, high export ratios and increased productivity are considered good indicators for societal development and quality of living. But this is only one side of the coin: with economic development ecosystems are often affected or even destroyed. Industrial sewage waters pollute rivers and lakes and lead to eutrophication and the spread of invasive weeds, such as the water hyacinth. Large scale infrastructure projects divert water, cut through wildlife corridors or increase access to remote sites also for illegal activities. Even projects aiming at strengthening small-scale farmers, e.g. through planting of fast growing trees, might result in adverse effects, decline in water levels or increase in erosion.
Therefore, economic growth should not come alone as solution for the challenges of poverty. Instead a comprehensive approach is needed, taking into account all three dimensions of sustainability, as do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This framework of 17 goals for a better future was ratified by all 193 countries of the UN and calls for proper change and integrated approaches to the current challenges to be achieved until the year 2030.
The need for Sustainable Regional Development
NABU and its partners worldwide acknowledge the need for economic development to poverty. Alternative sustainable income schemes e.g. through income-generating activities (IGAs) for small-scale farmers, landless youth and people being dependent on natural resources are a promising option.
NABU therefore promotes Sustainable Regional Development which benefits the people of today, without endangering their and future generations’ survival. It is the fundamental belief of NABU that economical development can only be successful in the long run wherever this sustainable blueprint is applied, and especially when it is regionally integrated.
Therefore, NABU includes Sustainable Regional Development into all its international projects: activities which actively support the conservation of ecosystems and create additional benefits for local people are fostered.
Implemented activities enable a high level of self-organisation within the community in order to create ownership and lasting impact for the whole region, such as ecological and/or soil conserving agriculture, introduction of climate-resilient crops, development of regional product brands and value additions as well as eco-tourism solutions.
Examples for NABU activities linked to Sustainable Regional Development
➣ Securing user rights and introducing communal conservation and use methods, such as participatory forest or wetland management
➣ Initiating certification schemes as value addition, for example, for organic produce or regional products
➣ Developing and promoting sustainable tourism, for example, by developing community-based nature-friendly tourism, training (bird) guides, and increasing international awareness
➣ Establishment and support of cooperatives and unions, to combine purchasing and negotiation power and to create a platform for information exchange and training opportunities
➣ Introducing sustainable resource usage, for example, by developing fishing/hunting quotas, citizen science based monitoring and awareness creation measures
➣ Capacity building and administrative support for local initiatives, cooperatives and CBOs to strengthen grassroot initiatives for sustainable development
➣ Initiate regional product development, for example, local natural oils, herbs, coffee, and promotion though the development of a regional product brand and market access options
➣ Introduction of innovative, sustainable agricultural practices, for example, conservation or climate smart agriculture, re-introduction of climate resistant old (crop/vegetable) varieties and climate-smart agriculture
➣ Introducing byproduct-usage, for example, coffee-husk briquettes, bio-char from invasive species
➣ International cooperation with international companies, such as NABU-tea by Tee Gschwendner
Ethiopia is a globally significant biodiversity hotspot and is considered to be one of the world's most species-rich countries. The last remaining highland forests have been identified as particularly valuable key ecosystems. However, they have declined dramatically in size. more →