Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013, Claudia Lewis, Plan C Initiative, Carlos L. de la Rosa, Catalina Island Conservancy, "The Youth Guide to Biodiversity" 1st Edition (Chapter 12) Youth and United Nations Global Alliance. Reproduced with permission.
Chapter 12. Verbatim.
Natural resource use occurs at all scales; some communities exploit resources to subsist, while many others consume much more than they need for survival. Let’s examine a fisheries example. At one end of the scale you have a local fishing village that only takes from the local waters what it needs to subsist, using hand-nets and other low impact practices; at the other end, you have international fishing fleets that take very high volumes of fish and other sea life, over large areas, using methods such as trolling, that have a great impact on the environment.
The impacts that these two groups have on biodiversity are quite different; the activities of the first leave a much smaller footprint than the second. It is not only a problem for wildlife, but also for people.
Inequalities and issues of fairness need to be addressed. Cooperation and negotiation can take place at the local or at the national level, but sometimes, as in the case of fishing in international waters, global action is required.
The fisheries example is mirrored at the internationallevel. Nations consume different amounts of resources, with some countries using a disproportionate amount of both local and global natural resources. Thus, it is necessary to hold discussions and to make agreements at the international level.
There is an uneven geographical distribution of natural resources across countries and regions. Some countries, such as the United States, possess a diverse abundance of exploitable resources, while others are not so lucky. For instance, roughly two-thirds of the Arab world depends on water sources located outside their borders. Population numbers and densities also vary widely across the world: some countries make greater demands and so impact on their natural resources more than others.
In order to have a more equitable distribution of benefits and responsibilities, and to be able to conserve biodiversity, a variety of efforts at many levels are required: establishing and enforcing agreements and treaties, implementing cooperative and assistance programmes and sharing of knowledge and technologies, are just some examples of possible action.International Action
International action can occur on a regional level among several countries in a region, or on a global scale that can include many countries from several or even all continents. Such international cooperation is often critical to the success of biodiversity projects and actions (see box: “The Polar Bear Treaty”).
While plants and animals do not recognise political borders between countries, people live and act within these boundaries. Thus, addressing many biodiversity issues requires the cooperation of more than one country.
For international cooperation to be effective, all of the involved countries must agree on the solutions and commit to follow the agreements. Global level efforts are indispensable when dealing with global problems, such as climate change and ozone depletion. These large issues often require the creation and ratification (or official adoption) of an international law to which all countries who are party to (or part of) it must sign (see section below).
Sometimes environmental problems are very specific to a region and/or are better addressed at the regional level. For instance, when trying to protect a species with a restricted range, such as the polar bear, or a special, fragile ecosystem and the species living within it, such as the rainforest. However, these regional approaches should still be coordinated with the broader global ones, because on our planet all things are connected. In the case of the polar bear, for instance, regional efforts to conserve it could be in vain, if the broader issue of climate change is not tackled simultaneously (see box: “The Importance of International Level Action”).