Local Input Needed into Environmental Policy

A paper published yesterday by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) criticises policy-makers for failing to take a joined up approach to tackling the globe’s environmental problems. Senior researchers argue that there has been a focus on climate change mitigation in policy-making, to the detriment of biodiversity and the livlihoods and interests of the world’s poorest people. One example given is the conversion of large tracts of biodiverse forest for the growth of biofuels, with the consequent loss of local resources.

The interactions between climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty alleviation must be examined more stringently by policy makers. To be effective, policies must also have greater input from local communities, who must be involved in decisions about how biodiversity is used. The researchers give the example of ‘farmer-researcher’ collaborations as being especially valuable in generating measures to adapt to climate change and fight poverty, such as seed exchanges and field experimentation built on local knowledge.

The researchers warn that unless “pro-poor, biodiversity friendly” means of adapting to and mitigating climate change are found, involving local communities in decision-making, Governments risk failing to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.