About Biodiversity, Human Well-being & Botanic Gardens
This is a short introduction to BGCI's review of the role of Botanic Gardens in linking biodiversity with improvements to human well-being. We hope that this page will help you to understand what human well-being is, how it is linked to biodiversity conservation, and the role of botanic gardens.
Biodiversity is the foundation for human well-being
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005
What is Human Well-being?
'Human well-being' as a similar meaning to the concept of 'reducing poverty and improving lives'. It is a phrase used in many existing policies and international conventions related to both biodiversity conservation and human development. BGCI considers that botanic gardens can contribute to four aspects:
- Improving healthcare
- Improving nutrition
- Alleviating financial poverty (This is provided through enabling local livelihood alternatives, boosting income or improving livelihood security.)
- Providing community and social benefits (This refers to important but less quantifiable benefits. For example, it can refer to the empowerment of minorities, improvement in community relations, or the 'greening' of a community's surroundings.)Listed below are a few of the international policies and targets which incorporate consideration of human well-being.
Why is Well-being Important for Botanic Gardens in Conservation?
Many policies now require biodiversity conservation to take account of human well-being, and promote it where possible. The concept of linking natural resources with human needs was expressed over 30 years ago at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Since then it has been increasingly apparent that traditional approaches to conservation, and to development, have not achieved their aims, and it is now widely recognised that conservation and development need to be linked. This idea was most recently and prominently emphasised by the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg in 2002, and is part of all policies relevant to botanic gardens in conservation.
Policies for Relevant to Human Well-being and Botanic Gardens
- Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). These are an ambitious agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives, through environmental sustainability, which were agreed by world leaders in 2000. For each goal one or more targets have been set, usually for 2015.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognises that human needs must be taken into account when conserving natural resources, and provide important justification for the conservation of living things and the ecosystems. The CBD is acknowledged one of the means for delivering the MDGs.
- Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). This strategy arose from the CBD, to provide a framework for action for plant conservation. It recognises that plants are an essential resource for human well-being.
- International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (IABGC). This agenda helps to define the contemporary global mission of Botanic Gardens. Part of this agenda is to promote plant conservation and sustainable use, especially of those plant resources which have economic importance to human societies.
Biodiversity can indeed help alleviate hunger and poverty, can promote human health, and be the
basis for ensuring freedom and equity for all.
Heads of the five biodiversity-related conventions,
in the statement "Biodiversity: Life Insurance
for our Changing World"
Gardens involved with conservation should consider if they can use their resources to contribute to well-being and meet human needs. This is especially important in the poorest countries, but improving some aspect of well-being is relevant to botanic gardens everywhere.
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