• Open Access

Linking biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction: de-polarizing the conservation-poverty debate


  • Editor Krister Par Andersson

Correspondence Dilys Roe, IIED, 80-86 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8NH, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399; fax: + 44 (0)20 3514 9055. E-mail: dilys.roe@iied.org


The published literature leads the reader to expect polarization between conservation and development communities as to the relationship between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. A survey of over 1,000 conservation and development professionals does not, however, support this depiction. Indeed it reveals a surprising consensus of opinion that there is a positive link between biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. Where there is some division, is over the direction of that link—conservation as a means to poverty alleviation, or poverty alleviation as a means to conservation—but again conservation and development organizations appear equally divided in their views. Extreme positions often dominate policy debates, hindering progress towards effective, integrated approaches. Our analysis indicates that this may be true of the conservation-poverty debate. Debate is needed not on whether conservation and poverty are linked and whose role it is to address each agenda but on how to develop conservation and development programmes that find integrated solutions to shared challenges. This could greatly inform the process of revising national biodiversity strategies that has recently been started by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and which potentially present a real opportunity for linking conservation and development in policy and practice.