Environmental Degradation and Poverty Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1043 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues

Environmental Degradation and Poverty

There is a deep-rooted relationship between environmental degradation and poverty although the link is often poorly understood by policy makers at the international and local levels, as well as the poor people themselves. As a result, efforts to fight poverty in recent decades have shown decidedly slow progress, and even today, almost half of the world's people live on less than $2 a day and more than 1 billion live on $1 or less a day ("Assessing Environment's..." 2005, p.10). This paper examines the ways in which environmental degradation causes poverty by looking at both sides of the issue, and discusses some possible solutions to the problem.

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The poor are particularly vulnerable to environmental degradation because most of world's poorest population lives in rural areas and is critically dependant for their livelihoods and well-being on environmental factors such as fertile soil, clean water and healthy ecosystems. This has been conclusively shown in recent reports prepared for Poverty-Environment Partnership -- a network of bilateral aid agencies -- by international agencies such as UNDP, UNEP, IIED, IUCN and WRI. One of these reports, "Sustaining the Environment to Fight Poverty..." (2005), drawing on various well-documented UN studies, show that a majority of poor people in rural areas draw much of their incomes directly from forests, pastures, fisheries or farming with nearly 1.1 billion people worldwide depending on forests alone for their livelihood (p. 10). In certain parts of the world, the poor people's dependence on "environment income" is particularly pronounced: in Cambodia, for instance, fuel-wood, fishing and mangroves contributes as much as 58% of the household income of the low-income groups. The importance of 'environmental wealth' to the economies of poorer countries can be gauged from the estimate that such wealth accounts for 26% of the total wealth of low-income countries, versus only 2% of wealth in OECD countries. (Word Bank Study quoted in "Sustaining the Environment to Fight Poverty..." 2005, p. 5)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Environmental Degradation and Poverty Assignment

Apart from providing a substantial part of household incomes of the poor, ecosystems also provide essential services for sustenance of key areas such as food production, water quality and availability, disease management and climate regulation. Unfortunately, most Ecosystem Assessment studies indicate that a majority of these services are being "used unsustainably and the capacity for continued delivery of these services is being persistently eroded." (Ibid., p. 6) to make matters worse, poverty mapping studies have confirmed that the poor tend to live in areas with stressed and/or low-quality environmental resources, such as land of naturally low soil fertility, polluted air, contaminated water and water shortages. This makes them more vulnerable to degradation of the fragile ecosystem such as the fertility of land and the quality of water resources, which is occurring at an alarming rate due to their over-exploitation (Ibid.)

Moreover, the poor are particularly vulnerable to both natural as well as man-made environmental hazards, e.g., storms, floods and droughts (natural hazards) and air and water pollution (man-made hazards). Their vulnerability to these hazards is enhanced because the poor often live on marginal lands, such as steeply sloped areas, or rain-fed land where they are at higher… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Environmental Degradation and Poverty.  (2007, June 13).  Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/environmental-degradation-poverty/4983394

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"Environmental Degradation and Poverty."  Essaytown.com.  June 13, 2007.  Accessed September 26, 2021.