Feature Story

When it comes to natural resources, Madagascar is a particularly blessed country. Besides being one of the most biodiversity-rich countries – with 90 per cent of its species found nowhere else on Earth – it has lots of cropland, a good climate for agriculture, vast mineral resources, and abundant labour.

Despite this natural bounty, Madagascar has become poorer in recent decades: Nearly 80 per cent of its people live on less than $1.90 a day. Twenty per cent suffer from lack of food security and the number of hungry are expected to grow over the coming decades.

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"I thought everything was in order. I exploited my natural resources just as my father did, and his father before him. I paid little attention to what was actually left in the forest," Danny James, Komareng village, Yopno-Uruwa-Som.

Sought after for subsistence-based hunting, as part of rural communities’ diets for centuries, the critically endangered tree kangaroos have been hunted almost to extinction, but now local communities and conservation groups are fighting together to save them. 

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Nearly 80 per cent of the air we breathe is nitrogen, a harmless inert gas. However, nitrogen also combines with other atoms to form chemical compounds—known as “reactive nitrogen” or “fixed nitrogen” (Nr)—that are essential for life on Earth but, at high concentrations, also hugely damaging to the environment.

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Unrestricted exploitation of wildlife has led to the disappearance of numerous animal species at an alarming and increasing rate, impinging on earth's biological diversity and upsetting its ecological balance.

And we are standing on the precipice of losing one million more species.

Nature’s emergency is our emergency.

In Indonesia, the race is on to halt the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and stop the loss of globally significant biodiversity throughout East and South-East Asia.

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In 2016 the GEF Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP and funded by the Global Environment Facility, launched the global component of the Indigenous Peoples’ Fellowship Initiative. Four women who are working in biodiversity conservation were selected. The programme also has eight national-level fellows. Global and national fellows came together at this year’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at UNHQ to discuss the issues that indigenous people are fighting for.

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In the world before modern medicine it was up to the local shaman, monk or wise woman to treat injury and disease, often with remedies based on local medicinal plants.

Today, many of these time-worn cures remain popular around the globe, but in some countries, traditional healers have extended their arsenal to include not only nature’s gifts, but the products of human industry, amongst them an oily liquid, clear to yellow in colour with neither smell nor taste, that often spills or leaks from electrical equipment.

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Oceans cover 70% of our planet’s surface. Nearly 50% of the world’s population live in coastal areas and the need to protect marine environments transcends individual communities, ecosystems, or nations.

Strong partnerships are vital, to address the multiple problems that threaten healthy ocean life. 

A maritime bioinvasion

Global shipping is an industry that can make substantial contributions to maintaining ocean health.

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Xinjiang, China’s largest province, is a significant reservoir of biodiversity, with diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems. A vast region of deserts and mountains, Xinjiang sits at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road trade route linking China and the Middle East, a legacy that can be seen as modernity and tradition merge. 

The Altai Mountains and wetlands are internationally recognised for their extraordinary landscapes, traditional cultures and livelihoods, and unique biodiversity.

As the rivers flow...

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When an entrepreneur designs, makes and markets handbags made of donkey skin, and they become hugely popular, that’s good for business and employment, right? But if the donkey leather is sourced from developing countries with weak environmental laws, what is the socio-economic and environmental impact?

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Challenge

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