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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity hotspots;
  • biodiversity conservation;
  • economic development;
  • ethical values;
  • poverty alleviation;
  • religion

Abstract

Biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation both have moral agendas. World religions have historically advocated ethical and moral codes of conduct, which can be supportive of these objectives. But can religions play a direct role in conservation and development? We examine the potential of religions in facilitating biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. A quantitative analysis of countries represented within Conservation International's list of Biodiversity Hotspots suggests a high level of plurality of religious following, but also a significant need for economic development and environmental conservation. Although attitudes of religions toward conservation and development vary widely, and some fundamentalist elements within religions can contradict moral agendas of conservation and development, we suggest that partnerships between conservation and development organizations and mainstream, as well as minor, faith groups might provide a positive force. Such partnerships can render greater public legitimacy and provide capability to mobilize mass support for biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.