Wildlife & Biodiversity

Americas has 13% of world population, but exploits quarter of global natural resources

As much as 65 per cent of Americas’ natural resources are not available to it anymore

By Meenakshi Sushma
Published: Monday 26 March 2018

The major reasons behind declining biodiversity are pollution, increasing wealth, land transformation, and over harvesting. Credit: Tony Webster/FlickrAn average American citizen consumes three times more natural resources than any other average global citizen, shows a study conducted on biodiversity in Americas. This study was released at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) held in Medellin, Colombia.

This goes to show that although the Americas has 40 per cent of the world’s natural resources, people in the region are using these resources more intensively than nature’s  ability to renew itself, says the report.

Jake Rice, a co-chair of the event representing Americas, says that although 13 per cent of the world’s population lives in Americas, they are exploiting nearly a quarter of natural resources available in the world. “Americas’ global ecological footprint stands at 22.8 per cent, which means an average citizen in the Americas is consuming nature’s resources three times more than an average global citizen,” says Rice.

While, on one hand, the statistics suggest that Americas has over consumed resources, on the other hand, it shows that even Americas’ biodiversity is declining.

As much as 65 per cent of Americas’ natural resources are not available to it anymore, highlights the study.

The major reasons behind this are increasing wealth, which increases consumption and pressure on nature, land transformation, pollution and over harvesting, says Rice The amount of biodiversity the Americas had during the European settlement, has seen a 30 per cent cut and this number may touch 40 per cent by 2050 if necessary steps are not taken, adds Rice.

“This decline is only going to accelerate as economic prosperity is improving and leading to greater consumption of natural resources,” adds the co-chair representing the Americas.

How to resolve this matter?

The experts and policy makers, who attended the event, came up with the following solutions:

  • While protected areas in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems are increasing, sustainable management outside these boundaries also needs to be worked at.
  • Moving the task of restoring degraded habitats from a local to a larger scale.
  • Biodiversity should be seen as a mainstream issue while framing economic policies.
  • Lessons can be learnt from indigenous and local communities on how they have managed their lands sustainably for centuries.

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