World Environment Day – biodiversity for people and planet

Published on 5 June 2020

This year the UN World Environment Day is highlighting the importance of biodiversity for people and planet. Calling on everyone to raise their voices for nature.  At IDS, our researchers aim to generate inter-disciplinary research that helps to ensure the lived experiences of communities and their responses to climate change and its impacts on nature are brought to bear on policy and decision-making.

Learning from Pastoralists

How pastoralists in Kutch respond to social and environmental uncertainty co-written by IDS researcher Lyla Mehta, as part of the TAPESTRY project, highlights politics and development issues that are affecting the ecology in Kutch, a dryland in the state of Gujarat in western India, and how people are responding to them. It has always made life uncertain due to the variable water supplies, and erratic rainfall but is now increasingly confronted by climate-related uncertainties.

The Pastoralists living and farming across Kutch are attuned to living with the uncertain rhythms of nature and there is much we can learn from them.  Further lessons from Pastoralists living with uncertainty, particularly from climate and environmental change, are explored in the IDS Bulletin Fifty Years of Research on Pastoralism and Development and as part of the PASTRES project (Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience: Global Lessons from the Margins).

Climate change, green transformations and political ecology

The Climate Change, Uncertainty and Transformation project is developing approaches to bridge the different perspectives of uncertainty from ‘above’ and ‘below’ in order to foster more productive and socially just ways of dealing with uncertainties and social transformation in India, in the face of impacts from climate change.

IDS Director Melissa Leach and her co-authors of The Politics of Green Transformations, discussed in a recent podcast that multiple ‘green transformations’ are required if humanity is to live sustainably on planet Earth and not further deplete its biodiversity. Structural economic transformation – green new deals, but also socially-just ones, that secure employment and livelihoods are needed.

IDS researchers also bring a political ecology perspective and a new journal article examines a case of a mine in Madagascar and conflicts surrounding allegations of a ‘double land grab’ to accommodate mining activities and compensatory biodiversity offsetting.

Rapid transitions and opportunities for the future

Examples of rapid, transformative changes to prevent further climate breakdown and improve biodiversity, are showcased by the Rapid Transitions Alliance – coordinated by the New Weather Institute, the University of Sussex at the ESRC STEPS Centre at IDS – offering evidence-based hope for change and for building a better future for people and planet.

Rebuilding after Covid-19 may present some opportunities to transform systems that have been damaging to biodiversity, climate and people.  In this context, the COP26 Climate conference now due to take place next year and the postponed 15th Biodiversity COP that was due to be hosted by China under the theme ‘Ecological Civilisation: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth’ will be more important than ever.

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