A cheat sheet or glossary of environmental terms for budding environmentalists looking to learn more about the environment by decoding jargon.
Advocacy – individuals or groups that aim to publicly provide recommendations to influence decisions within social, political, and economic institutions.
Agroecology – applying a sustainable approach to farming using practices that mitigate climate change and encourages a positive balance between plants, animals, and people. In-depth discussion here.
Biocultural diversity – describes the variety of connections between human culture and nature. See our Biocultural Diversity Programme.
Biodiversity –the varieties of life found within a particular region, from plants and animals, to fungi and even microorganisms like bacteria, found within a particular region.
Carbon offsetting – a process by which carbon dioxide is reduced/removed from the atmosphere, to make up for carbon dioxide emissions occurring somewhere else.
Carbon zero/neutral – having a balance between the amount of carbon being emitted and the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere by carbon sinks.
Carbon sequestration – the process of capturing, removing, and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and into a carbon sink.
Carbon sink – plants or bodies of salt water that actively absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – a global agreement that provides a set of laws and regulations for biodiversity conservation.
COP – (formerly known as the Conference of the Parties) the meetings of the Parties of a global convention such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Circular economy – a closed cycle of production, consumption, repairing, recycling, and reusing materials and products for as long as possible.
Civil Society Organisation (CSO) – a non-profit network of people organised to democratically serve general interests.
Conservation – the process of protection and preventing a resource and/or species from extinction.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – when businesses aim to take action to reduce any damaging effects that they may have upon people and/or the environment. This can include the effects of energy use, emissions, and waste management, for example.
Deep-sea mining (DSM) – extracting and retrieving minerals from 200+ metres deep in the ocean. In-depth discussion here.
Ecology – the study of relationships between living organisms and the physical environment and understanding the connections between them.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) – a set of considerations used to monitor investments for corporate policies and encourage companies to act sustainably and be mindful of their social responsibilities.
Fishing subsidies – the sums of money provided by governments to help reduce the unsustainable costs of industrial fishing. In-depth discussion here.
Free, prior, and informed consent – a specific right for Indigenous Peoples to freely give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories.
Food insecurity – a lack of regular and reliable access to safe and nutritious food needed for normal growth and living an active, healthy life.
Food sovereignty – the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food that is produced, traded, and consumed sustainably.
Freshwater – a body of water, not of the sea, that can be liquid or frozen that contains none to small quantities of dissolved salt and minerals e.g. ponds/lakes, rivers/streams, and swamps/wetland areas. See our Freshwater Programme.
Freshwater habitats – the presence of natural resources and environmental conditions needed for the survival and reproduction of freshwater wildlife. See our Freshwater Programme.
Freshwater wildlife – the variety of organisms that live independently of humans, found within bodies of freshwater. See our Freshwater Programme.
Hydropower – a source of energy generating power through a fast-moving body of water in turbines, turning that kinetic energy into electricity, often using dams. In-depth discussion here.
Indigenous Peoples – distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the land and natural resources where they live. See our Biocultural Diversity Programme.
Industrial agriculture – the large-scale modern production of crops and animals, including animal products like eggs, to maximise food production.
Industrial fishing – the use of expensive, large boats including trawlers, purse seiners, and factory boats, often equipped with technology capable of giant catches.
Intersectionality – when people experience heightened discrimination and/or disadvantages due to the overlap of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other characteristics.
Land rights – the right to access, use, occupy, control, and possess a section of land.
Local communities – in the context of conservation, a group of people who live and interact within a common location of conservation interest, often an important habitat for local wildlife.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – a global authority that develops effective approaches to conservation ensuring the protection of biodiversity and the physical world made up of both government and civil society organisations.
IUCN Red List – (formerly known as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) an indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity, species by species, collating information on the extinction risk of animals, fungi, and plants.
Non-governmental organisation (NGO) – a not-for-profit group that functions independently of any government to serve a social or political goal.
Monoculture – the practice of growing one crop on farmland and removing other species.
Policy – a plan of action adopted by individuals or an organisation to guide decisions.
Rights of nature – the idea that the natural world, including ecosystems and species, is entitled to the same legal rights that humankind has given our shared existence on Earth.
Sustainability – the ability to maintain the health of the environment at a positive rate, ensuring that goods and services are produced with replenishable resources without damage to the environment.
Sustainable development – the process of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)– a global agenda aiming to achieve a better future for all, by ending social, economic, and environmental issues.
Synchronicity – the occurrence of similar events, discussions, or philosophies happening at the same time which seem to have no direct relationship, but often have a deeper connection which may not yet be understood.
Trawling – a fishing method that pulls a weighted fishing net behind a boat along the ocean floor to capture a target species.
United Nations – an international organisation committed to maintaining peace and security, developing friendly social relations among nations, and promoting better living standards using human rights.