The previous post showed that most life on Earth is found in the tropics, where it is also being lost quickest. In this blog I discuss how the impacts of this are not evenly felt.
The greatest needs (continued)
The consequences of biodiversity loss and environmental decline can be severe. Developing country fisheries typically have no management data, yet supply food for so many millions of people and overlap with areas of high biodiversity. A recent study in Science found that fisheries in developing countries are in crisis — their abundance having been reduced on average by two thirds, giving rise to higher risk of ecosystem collapse and food insecurity for millions of people in coastal regions.
Meanwhile, 3.4bn people live in parts of the world where both freshwater sources and biodiversity are under threat; ecosystem health is a necessity for water security.
Traditionally, charities have focused on the humanitarian issues facing developing countries, but in reality it is vital to balance the needs of people and nature. As Carl Sagan said: “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water.”
Overlap of threats to human water security and biodiversity. Image: Vörösmarty et al, 2010 Nature
Addressing an unmet need
Paradoxically, in 2003 only £1 in every £8 spent on conservation went to developing countries. Fortunately, the pattern of giving from UK philanthropists is becoming less skewed. The Environmental Funders Network (EFN) which surveys environmental spending by UK trusts and foundations, finds that since 2007 roughly 40% of grants went to initiatives outside the UK and Europe. In the US, international funding amounts to just 29% of environmental grants.
However, our research on US and European foundation spending suggests that the pattern varies by ecosystem: roughly 70% of funding for marine conservation and almost 90% for freshwater biodiversity is spent in the Synchronicity Earth’s philanthropic objective is to address the needs unmet by such patterns of giving.