Human development, environmental protection and climate change
Rural societies in many developing countries have had to contend with major institutional, socio-economic and ecological changes over the last few decades: climatic disturbances, strong demographic growth, inequality, poverty, rapid urbanisation, State withdrawal, integration into regional and international markets, etc. Agriculture is increasingly at risk from climate change, while the growing need for agricultural products (food and non-food) is intensifying pressure on natural resources in developing countries. In addition to this,
- Customary rules regulating access to natural resources – which often contradict national legislation – are losing their legitimacy and relevance, thereby increasing the risk of conflict between resource users in these countries.
- Access to land is problematic, especially in Africa, due the coexistence of different rights (customary, community, private, etc.), migration to less populated areas driven by soaring population growth, and agricultural land grabbing by private investors. All this contributes to the growing scarcity of available land in rural areas and increases conflicts between migrants and indigenous residents, herders and farmers, etc.
- Efforts to safeguard biodiversity and promote human development in protected areas are seldom made in tandem. These areas are often managed by excluding local populations, yet policies to protect biodiversity will only be effective if they are supported by local communities. Outside protected areas, the prevailing logic of economic growth often undermines efforts to protect biodiversity. Therefore, technical and economic models need to change to ensure that development strategies take account of biodiversity.
- The many uncertainties surrounding climate change make it hard to identify techniques that will help limit its impact on agricultural yields and livestock productivity.