The threat to sustainability from poverty
Population increases are both a consequence, and cause, of increasing poverty and low standards of living around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. As populations increase the demand on common access resources intensifies resulting in extensive negative externalities which threatens sustainability.
With the world's population surpassing 7 billion people in 2011, the global impact is huge.
Read the following article and reflect on the implications for sustainable development resulting from population growth.
The World Bank periodically prepares poverty assessments of countries in which it has an active programme, in close collaboration with national institutions and other development agencies. The data it records is presented in a series of datasets on its website.
Examine the following datasets and featured indicators and identify the major links between poverty and reliance on agriculture.
For the 70% of the world's poor who live in rural areas, agriculture is the main source of income and employment. The depletion and degradation of natural resources poses serious challenges to producing enough food and other agricultural products to sustain local livelihoods, but also to meet the needs of urban populations which rely on this supply.
Where low-income rural populations rely on subsistence agriculture, the likelihood is that common access resources will become depleted, unless there is some form of community collaboration along the lines suggested by Elinor Ostrom. Sustainability of resources may be lost if poor communities are forced to sell land and resources, such as forests, to external private corporations who do not have the interests of the local community as a priority, but need to satisfy their shareholders. Logging companies, for example, will wish to maximise their utilisation of timber resources taking only their private costs into consideration, ignoring the external costs to the local population. As a consequence, there will be overexploitation of timber and deforestation creating negative externalities such soil erosion, landslides, flooding and loss of bio-diversity.
The World Bank is one of the key promoters and financiers of environmental upgrading in the developing world. The following dataset covers forests, biodiversity, emissions, and pollution.