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Folder The challenge: preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the light of globalisation

ContainerThe need to preserve and sustain biodiversity for future generations will remain a significant Traffic Intersectionchallenge in the coming years. Biodiversity remains under threat throughout the world. Natural resources are being steadily depleted and ecosystems are under threat. In addition to the extinction of species, the degradation of local biodiversity also constitutes a threat to our well-being, economic growth, sustainable development and security in the short term. Dutch policy will therefore focus more than ever on preserving the goods and services that ecosystems provide and promoting their sustainable use.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment states that the degradation of ecosystem services is the result of changes in land use, climate, the introduction of alien species, overexploitation and pollution. These factors are driven by major global trends such as population growth, increased prosperity and globalisation. The second Sustainability Outlook published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency in 2007 also states that the loss of biodiversity has not been halted (see box 1). The agency added that the current policy would not achieve this objective. 

 Trends according to the second Sustainability Outlook:

  • There has been a lot of progress in development, but it is not evenly distributed.
  • Development has been at the expense of nature and the environment.
  • Technology has not compensated for population growth and consumption; pressure on land and energy consumption continue to increase.
  • More people, more consumption and more competition for raw materials.
  • The result is further loss of biodiversity and climate change.
  • Climate, biodiversity and development cannot be realised with the existing policy.
  • Consumption is leading to increased CO2 emissions and land use in the Netherlands.
  • The public and companies look to the government to compel changes in behaviour.
  • Sustainable development is not yet a guiding principle for the policy

Tuna marketThe loss of biodiversity and natural resources may also jeopardise efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, see box 2). When viewed in the context of poverty alleviation, for example, the sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources contributes to achieving MDG7 - the two issues are closely related. In this context, biodiversity can be seen as an integral part of the natural resources on which people depend. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has shown that, right up to today, it has been impossible to reverse the downward spiral of biodiversity loss and growing poverty. The challenge is to turn this situation around. Economic growth and increased prosperity and welfare must be decoupled from the large-scale destruction of habitats and loss of biodiversity. Achieving this not only requires a more coherent policy; it also calls on us to make the sustainable use of biodiversity a key facet of economic activity, development strategies and poverty alleviation. Efforts to combat poverty and halt the loss of biodiversity must be seen in the context of globalisation, changing international relations and new markets. 

 The Millennium Development Goals are:

  1. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. achieve universal primary education
  3. promote gender equality and empower women
  4. reduce child mortality
  5. improve maternal health
  6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. ensure environmental sustainability
  8. develop a global partnership for development