Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

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Every move away from biodiversity has left us poorer in every aspect — ecological, cultural, political economic. Monocultures and uniformity create the urge to exclude and exterminate. They generate hierarchies, domination and hate. Biodiversity creates the possibility of unity in and through diversity. It transforms heirchies into horizontalities of mutualities, interdependence, giving and receiving. Our work in Navdanya has shown that we can control pests through biodiversity. We can double nutritional security through biodiversity.

We can move towards sustainability justice and peace through biodiversity. We can ensure sustainable development by protecting the ecological space of other species. The international community has committed itself to Sustainable Development goals for the next decade. Biodiversity can reduce poverty by providing livelihoods as well as basic needs. When farmers practice biodiverse organic farming they do not need to buy costly seeds and costly chemicals, which is the main reason for rural debt and farmers suicides.

They grow more nutritious and more diverse food, and can increase their incomes. Biodiversity of crops and of markets is the road to doubling farm incomes.

Shiva, The violence of Green Revolution , We grow traditional seeds which farmers have bred for nutrition, not nutritionally empty crops bred for high response to chemicals. Scientific research is showing that traditional varieties have higher nutrition, more taste, more quality than industrially bred varieties. Our wheat varieties do not give gluten allergies , but industrial wheats do.

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Biodiversity is central to health from the soil to our fields, to our gut microbiome. The latter event also marked the launch of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Conventions on Biological Diversity and to Combat Desertification, all seen as landmarks in the rise of sustainable development as a societal paradigm. As described in the previous section, environmental frameworks always couple biodiversity and HWB, but not in consistent ways.

Frameworks have also been developed separately by the research and policy sectors, and sometimes by both, which influences their accessibility and uptake by different sectors. Biodiversity is variously considered an externality, a driver or a diffuse variable, embedded in one or more parts of a framework. These deliberations beg the following question: given its ubiquity and variability in conceptual frameworks, how has the biodiversity—HWB link been taken up in public discourse and scientific research? To address this question, we used text product databases as proxy measures of public discourse and scientific research.

Using the LexisNexis Academic database, we quantified public discourse by tallying the number of text products, consisting of general news pieces e. As the number of text products returned for the single terms biodiversity and sustainable development from to exceeded the LexisNexis Academic limit on products retrieved , we recorded the number of publications on the first day of each month and then summed and averaged those tallies, multiplying the end result by to create an estimate of the number of products in a given year we assumed there were no calendar biases such as spikes on the first day of the month or at the end of the year.

For scientific research, we tallied peer-reviewed scientific publications in the ISI Web of Science database using the same term list, though LexisNexis required sampling to determine product output while ISI provided direct counts.

1. Introduction

We anchored our analyses to the base year , a few years prior to the surge of interest generated by the Brundtland Report [ 1 ] and the Earth Summit. We note that focus on text products ignores other media that can be fairly important, such as film, video and other non-literary art forms.

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Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

There are several striking features from the results of these text product analyses. This rise is possibly even more striking given that we do not include non-text-based products. Currently, an average of text products published each day uses the single term sustainable development and around products everyday uses biodiversity.


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By contrast, HWB as a single term rises more slowly with current daily output of roughly fewer than 3 per day. The literature survey. Shown are the log-transformed results of the literature searches for articles from to present mentioning the terms sustainable development, biodiversity and HWB, as well as their combinations. Two databases were used a LexisNexis, serving as a proxy for public discourse and b ISI Web of Science serving as a proxy for scientific research. See text for search protocol. The lowest outputs are products using all three terms.

Joint use of biodiversity and HWB has the rarest occurrence of two terms combined. Not surprisingly, biodiversity occurs in scientific products more than any other term or set of terms as opposed to sustainable development in the public discourse products.

Mountain biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge for synergistic action

That the magnitudes for the scientific literature outputs are substantially lower than text product outputs in public discourse is not surprising as it reflects the larger volume of text outputs in public discourse. Similar to public discourse, however, the number of papers that use combinations of the three terms are an order of magnitude lower than those that use the terms singly, whereas those using all three terms are rare. Joint use of biodiversity and HWB is roughly indistinguishable from the joint use of any other pair.

The fact that biodiversity and HWB are linked is well established. However, it appears from our brief surveys of frameworks and the literature that our present understanding of this link is variously posited as:.

Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals

Indeed, Seddon et al. While these views are not mutually exclusive, they can differently influence public discourse perceptions, actions and policy as well as scientific research. Based on the literature trends, summing over the period between and , the majority of our public discourse It is also, perhaps, not surprising that individual terms may be used in isolation initially and collectively at a later time when integration occurs, which would explain the slower rise in multiple usages.

Our brief review reveals a range of perspectives on the linkage between biodiversity and HWB, and calls for a more coherent and unified framework. From this unified framework, it becomes clear that development will be sustainable when it strives to minimize harmful feedbacks, and ideally turns them into beneficial feedbacks by restoring biodiversity where it has been degraded.

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Rather than allowing natural capital e. These strategies, along with monitoring and tracking, should be adaptive and integrated. The SDGs, for example, could better meet their targets by greater integration of biodiversity into the 17 goals rather than separating them into 15 goals concerning HWB and only two concerning biodiversity see also Seddon et al.

Simplified framework for sustainable development. This conceptual framework combines causalities from models 1 to 3 see Introduction and ideas captured in conceptual frameworks presented in figure 2 by establishing feedbacks from biodiversity to HWB. These feedbacks can be direct, where people appreciate biodiversity for its tangible e. Sustainable development strives to optimize increases in HWB with the maintenance and restoration of biodiversity, establishing a positive feedback.

Note that unsustainable development leads to a reduction in biodiversity, benefits derived from cultural values of biodiversity and HWB illustrated as smaller boxes than the bottom illustration for sustainable development. Note also that the safe space, illustrated as the yellow and green regions in the circular areas under the magnitude and stability of ecosystem functions, goods and services, also shrinks under unsustainable development.

Earth Summit & Conventions: 3 Aspects - Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development

In seeking to maximize gains in HWB, distinguishing between achieving a robust versus fragile state of HWB is important e. A fragile state of HWB is one focused primarily on securing the immediate survival needs of people affected by poor nutrition, clean water shortage and poverty akin to the physiological needs in Maslow's hierarchy of human needs [ 84 ] , while a robust state of HWB is one that achieves minimums, is resistant to shocks, and has the potential to rise above minimums.

Whether one subscribes to an optimistic or pessimistic view for likely future trends in HWB, current levels of poverty, hunger and water scarcity call for urgent actions to improve and reduce inequality in HWB as quickly as possible. Focusing on securing minimum levels of HWB, however, may mean securing just enough biodiversity to insure minimum levels in the psychological, physiological, social, aesthetic, heath, material benefits and ecological resiliency biodiversity provides i.

In the interim, however, if biodiversity loss is prevalent and irreversible, then moving to a more robust state and higher levels of HWB could be untenable. This scenario in which urgency necessitates immediate pursuit of minimal HWB that allows for further losses in biodiversity that, in turn, leads to further declines in HWB, yields a dynamic in which biodiversity is steadily ratcheted downward.

The possibly that a threshold exists and is crossed in which ecosystem functions and services change dramatically becomes increasingly likely in the face of this biodiversity—HWB ratchet. Given the relationship between biodiversity and poverty alleviation Roe et al. An alternative approach is to focus on achieving a robust state of HWB, one that leads to the preservation or retention of biodiversity.

This alternative approach follows the strategies of prudent businesses that employ the precautionary principle; invest some part of their profits in protecting their capital through insurance, security, and research and development.

In the same way that a prudent business is pre-adapted to future change in markets, an ecosystem rich in diversity is one that is pre-adapted to future environmental change. Building public discourse and research on the biodiversity—HWB link, promoting robust HWB and addressing the feedbacks, benefits and trade-offs associated with biodiversity-based HWB e.

Although both HWB and biodiversity are multidimensional constructs that can be difficult to define and quantify, their linkage must be a central feature of any conceptual framework that informs sustainable development. Biodiversity, however, is often seen as a diffuse agent, and often its importance is implied rather than explicitly incorporated. In this review, we find that biodiversity, HWB and sustainable development are typically treated in isolation and their linkages are neglected.

While there may appear to be some circularity in advocating biodiversity conservation to improve HWB and improving HWB to conserve biodiversity, the story is more complex.

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First, the biodiversity—HWB ratchet described above points to the threat of diversity levels becoming low enough to cross threshold levels and trigger potentially irreversible and detrimental changes in ecosystem processes, services and HWB. Second, there are ethical arguments against human transformations at scales that jeopardize earth-system functioning. Finally, human appropriation of natural resources needs to be controlled in order to secure biodiversity levels sufficient to insure robust levels of HWB that are well above minimums.

Improved conceptual frameworks, and the discourse and research they instigate can help shape a sustainable development agenda that goes beyond securing immediate survival needs to create a society that values the restoration of biodiversity as both a base condition and a product of improved HWB. The authors thank Nathalie Seddon, S. Tjossem, the Naeem-Palmer lab group at Columbia University and three anonymous reviewers for their invaluable input.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Proc Biol Sci v. Proc Biol Sci. Shahid Naeem , 1 Robin Chazdon , 2 J. Emmett Duffy. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Received Sep 22; Accepted Oct This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract As society strives to transition towards more sustainable development pathways, it is important to properly conceptualize the link between biodiversity i. Keywords: biodiversity, sustainable development, human well-being, ecosystem services.

Introduction For several decades, world governments and policy bodies have been on a course of attempting to improve human well-being HWB through the stated intention of sustainable development, which includes improved education, health and environmental quality [ 1 — 9 ], although often to the exclusion of family planning and the demographic dividend i. Biodiversity and human well-being linkages in existing conceptual frameworks Because biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services and HWB are complex constructs, there are many linkages among them that makes the simultaneous consideration of all four constructs challenging.

Open in a separate window. Figure 1. Figure 2. Public and scientific uptake of the biodiversity—human well-being linkages The link between biodiversity and HWB became a focus of public discourse and scientific research in the early s following the Brundtland Report [ 1 ], and the United Nations UN. Figure 3. Discussion and synthesis The fact that biodiversity and HWB are linked is well established.

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