International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: Why Conservation Science and Poverty Eradication go Hand in Hand

Throughout 2018 our marine biologists here at Love The Oceans will be doing blog posts on topics of Named Days. To keep up to date, follow this blog, also found under the ‘News’ tab on our website. Without further ado, in celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2018, I introduce our 24th blog in this marine series:

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: Why Conservation Science and Poverty Eradication go Hand in Hand

Today is 25thanniversary of the UN’s International day for the Eradication of Poverty. Why is a marine conservation organisation celebrating this, I hear you ask? Well, since it’s no secret that poverty alleviation and successful conservation strategies are intrinsically linked, Love The Oceans’ conservation strategy has from the start been based on working with our communities, building relationships based on mutual respect and equality.  Here are a few reasons why poverty alleviation is so important to conservation in general, and our conservation strategy in particular:

  1. When all your energy is spent on making sure you can put food on the table for your family that night, you don’t have the headspace to think about conservation.

In Mozambique most people fish and shark fishing isn’t an uncommon way of making ends meet. Like it or not, money makes the world go around.  So a successful conservation strategy needs to present a financial motivation to swap to more environmentally friendly alternatives: If you can offer education around the subject and a job that pays the same (or even, more), you give people the headspace to think about other things, like conservation. For fishermen that means having the luxury of releasing undersized fish, sharks and turtles back into the water, and still being able to eat that night. And at the end of the day, in an area mostly made up of subsistence fishing, that’s what’s important.

  1. In developing nations conservation generally isn’t a governmental priority – improving healthcare and education come above all else.

Getting governmental support for legislation change in favour of conservation is easier said than done. In developing nations, priorities quite rightly centre around poverty alleviation and basic human rights, which usually means focus on revenue generation. That’s why, there have to be financial incentives to make it attractive to pass new legislation in favour of conservation – like LTO’s mission to establish a Marine Protected Area. For LTO this incentive is our humpback whale data set: By proving through sightings data that we can guarantee a tourist a whale sighting, we can prove that protecting the area will result in an increase in tourism, an alternate revenue source, and jobs created, both governmentally and locally.

  1. Most of our environmental problems originate from human interference, so it’s important that humans are integrated in the solution.

Wherever conservation projects are run, it’s important things are locally managed. Communities must take ownership of their marine resources to ensure long-lasting change. It has to be something that becomes culturally integrated. To do this, upskilling has to happen if you’re in a rural, poverty stricken area with a lack of access to education. That’s why LTO teaches basic marine resource management in local schools, does upskilling workshops with adults and runs schemes like our Ocean Conservation Champions (OCC) Initiative.

  1. Developing nations are doing just that – developing.

In developed countries we now have the luxury of telling developing nations to develop sustainably. Which is ironic considering how much damage we have done ourselves. For example, the use of spermaceti, an oil derived from sperm whales, in the UK’s industrial revolution, meant sperm whales were hunted down to 33% of their original numbers. Now, thanks to research on environmental issues, developed nations are better equipped to function sustainably (although many still decide not to … thanks, Trump). Developing nations, however, still lack the resources to do so, which is why there has to be financial incentives to conservation.

  1. Unfortunately, it’s often the poorer countries of the world that suffer the severest consequences of anthropogenic pollution (just have a look at all the island nations that are literally drowning).

Whether it’s rising sea levels, intense weather fronts, or excess waste washing up on shore, developing nations often get the brunt of the environmental problems, that are usually caused by developed nations in the first place. This means that coming up with innovative and lucrative ways to deal with these issues is essential. In Mozambique, we’re on the edge of the Indian Ocean garbage patch – the 3rdlargest garbage patch in the world, spanning approximately 5 million km2. An innovative way of putting the plastics that wash up on the beach to good use is the creation of eco-bricks – putting value on trash by turning it into construction materials, while also ticking off the human right to shelter and property. In 2019 LTO is starting workshops on the creation of eco-bricks to help alleviate poverty through trash management

So you see, any successful conservation strategy should help eradicate poverty. Join us today in celebrating the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty! To get involved in our conservation efforts and help eradicate poverty, you can join us in Mozambique here, applications are open for 2019 and filling up fast!

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