WWF’s 2020 Living Planet Report reported that: “The world has seen an average 68% drop in mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian populations since 1970. . . .”
Biodiversity is the variety of life in all its forms. It is made up of all living species, their genetic variation, and the interaction of these living creatures within complex ecosystems. Biodiversity provides clean air, fresh water, good quality soil, and crop pollination. And the natural beauty that we value.
Biodiversity loss — partly due to the climate crisis — is caused primarily by changes in land use, habitat loss and degradation: for example, industrial agriculture and logging. Other causes include the overexploitation of species as in fishing, non-native species and disease, and pollution.
Social Justice Stands To Lose
The cost of biodiversity loss will be borne by the most vulnerable communities by increasingly endangering their means of sustenance: growing food, finding clean water, supporting their families, and being able to stay where they live. In essence, as biodiversity loss and climate change worsen, the prospects for the socially just development of these communities grow dimmer.
Coastal mangrove forests, as an example, are vitally important to their ecosystem and the communities which economically depend upon them. They provide shelter and food for a myriad of living animals and fish, many of which can be harvested and sold in local markets. They naturally filter sea water, which can in turn be used for irrigation. And they store carbon and reduce flooding helping to protect nature.
These communities, sustained by such mangrove forests, are able to provide employment, healthcare and education, along with a more secure future for their families. That’s social justice. But it’s not guaranteed as the climate crisis accelerates and biodiversity loss worsens.
N4J’s Approach To Biodiversity Loss
We are a non-profit founded to use nature to address the social justice needs of vulnerable populations confronting the climate crisis. Our approach to helping vulnerable communities affected by climate change is two-fold:
- Assist these communities to identify optimal ways to support habitat protection and restoration (biodiversity) and
- Provide means for these communities to secure the resources and knowledge to create a sustainable economic future.
It is often the case that these vulnerable communities know what the challenges are, what they need to provide for the future, but don’t have the resources or voice to request and undertake the necessary adaptations to their climate challenges.
This is the approach we are applying with existing projects in Canada, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and the USA. In addition, we are initiating and/or exploring projects in Botswana, India, Kenya, Nepal, and Zambia.
Our efforts include field research, resource hub creation, project team development, and finance resourcing, among others. We will keep you posted as to our successes, failures – and most importantly, lessons learned.