International Development

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Fish market
© WWF-Canon / WORLD TELEVISION
The links between long-term poverty reduction and the state of the environment cannot be ignored. Freshwater, soil fertility, clean air, fisheries and forests provide the very basics of human well-being.
70 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where their daily livelihoods often depend on natural resources. Investing in environmental goods and services, whether it is integrated water resource management, sustainable fisheries or restoration of degraded land, will bring long term benefits for the economy and human development.

Declining natural resources and environmental services
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment provided evidence of the decline in ecosystems that support human development and supply many of the services and products which we all take for granted, such as soil formation, climate and flood regulation, water purification, timber, food and fuel.

Conflict over access and use of natural resources can trigger greater insecurity and exacerbate poverty.

Vulnerability to natural or man-made disasters as well as climate change is greatest amongst the poorest sections of society. Illegal logging robs governments of revenues and deprives local communities of forest resources.

EU Development Policy
In 2005 the EU adopted a new European Consensus on Development which aims to tackle poverty in the context of sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It recognises that environmental sustainability, as one of the MDGs, is important for long-term poverty reduction, health and food security and that environmental integration must be improved within the planning and implementation of EU aid programmes.

It also proposes a number of thematic strategies for cross-cutting issues, such as the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources (including energy).

WWF has been pressing for an ambitious environment strategy as well as making environmental protection and management of natural resources a priority in EU development policy and external relations.

Cotonou Agreement
The Cotonou Agreement provides a political and legal framework for development co-operation, trade and political dialogue between the EU and 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Revised in 2005, the Agreement will contribute 23 billion euros of aid through the 10th European Development Fund during 2008-13.

It recognises that the sustainable management of natural resources is a major challenge facing developing countries, and one which also plays a key role in poverty reduction.

WWF is working in Europe, Africa and the Pacific to ensure that the environmental commitments of the Cotonou Agreement are respected.

Sustainable Development Strategy
Sustainable development is one of the overarching objectives of the EU. A Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) was agreed in Gothenburg in 2001 and revised in June 2006.

This strategy now incorporates the social, environmental and economic sustainability of EU’s activities and policies at a global level as well as commitments on the coherence of EU policies for promoting sustainable development.

WWF has been advocating that the future of Europe be linked to the rest of the world, both in terms of dependence upon global natural resources and the impacts of our actions on the sustainable development of other countries.

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