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In this chapter of the IBES Global Assesment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services we explored how global transformation involved key tradeoffs, and inequalities, as growing interactions drove economic growth but also degradation. Accelerations in consumption & interconnection have had tradeoffs.
2 .1
2 .1
Chapter 2.1
Copyright © 2019, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Part of ISBN: 978-3-947851-20-1
Patricia Balvanera (Mexico), Alexander Pfaff (United States
of America)
Andrés Viña (Colombia), Eduardo García Frapolli (Mexico),
Syed Ainul Hussain (India), Leticia Merino (Mexico), Peter
Akong Minang (Kenya), Nidhi Nagabhatla (India)
Anna Sidorovich (Belarus)
Marisol Aburto (Mexico), Hussain Al Shammasi (United
States of America), Luiza Andrade (Brazil), Yildiz
Aumeeruddy-Thomas (Mauritius/France), Daniel Babai
(Hungary), Ruchi Badola (India), Xuemei Bai (Australia),
Karina Benessaiah (United States of America), Abigail
Bennett (United States of America), Fernando Berron
(Mexico), Pedro Brancalion (Brazil), Maria Carnovale (United
States of America), Robin Chazdon (United States of
America), Luca Coscieme (Ireland), Helena Cotler (Mexico),
Sara Curran (United States of America), Fabrice DeClerck
(Belgium/France), Tariq Deen (Canada/UNU), Moreno
Di Marco (Australia), Christopher Doropoulus (Australia),
Lalisa A. Duguma (Ethiopia), Patrice Dumas (France),
Driss Ezzine de Blas (France), Katie Fiorella (United States
of America), Divine Foundjem-Tita (Cameroon), Simon
Funge-Smith (Italy), ArneGeschke (Australia), Daniel W.
Gladish (Australia), ChristopherGolden (United States of
America), Emmanuel González Ortega (Mexico), Louise
Guibrunet (Mexico/France), Julian Gutt (Germany),
Marwa W Halmy (Egypt), FarahHegazi (United States of
America), Samantha Hill (United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland), Emeline Hily (France), Lori Hunter
(United States of America), Michelle Irengbam (India), Ute
Jacob (Germany), Pam Jagger (United States of America),
Willis Jenkins (United States of America), David Kaczan
(United States of America), Saiful Karim (Australia), A.
Justin Kirkpatrick (United States of America), Alfonso
Langle-Flores (Mexico), Wei Liu (China), Alejandro Lozano
(United States of America), Ana Catarina Luz (Portugal),
Serge P Madiefe (Cameroon), Virginie Maris (France),
Tessa Mazor (Australia), Paula Meli (Brazil), Sara Mingorria
(Spain), Daniela Miteva (United States of America), Zsolt
Molnar (Hungary), Francisco Mora (Mexico), Julia Naime
(Mexico), Aidin Niamir (Germany), Jennifer Orgill (United
States of America), Victor Ortíz (Mexico), Diego Pacheco
(Bolivia), Emily Pakhtigian (United States of America),
HannesPalang (Estonia), Ayari Pasquier (Mexico),
EmilyPechar (United States of America), Alma Piñeyro
Nelson (Mexico), Brian Prest (United States of America),
Susan Preston (Canada), Danielle Purifoy (United States of
America), Navin Ramankutti (Canada), Janet Ranganathan
(United States of America), Juan Carlos Rocha (Sweden/
Colombia), Vanesa Rodriguez Osuna (Germany), Isabel
Ruiz-Mallen (Spain), James Salzman (United States
of America), FlorianSchwarzmueller (Australia), Tim
Searchinger (United States of America), Hanno Seebens
(Germany), KalevSepp (Estonia), Verena Seufert
(Germany), Steve Sexton (United States of America), Hilary
Smith (United States of America), Stephanie Stefanski
(United States of America), AlejandraTauro (Mexico), Faraz
Usmani (United States of America), Daniel Vennard (United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Bibiana
Vilá (Argentina), RichardWaite (United States of America),
Fern Wickson (Norway), Julien Wolfersberger (France), Ali
Zeeshan (Australia)
Eric Lambin (Belgium/USA), Jayalaxshmi Mistry (United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Balvanera, P., Pfaff, A., Viña, A., García-Frapolli, E.,
Merino,L., Minang, P. A., Nagabhatla, N., Hussain, S.A.
and A. A. Sidorovich (2019) Chapter 2.1. Status and
Trends – Drivers of Change. In: Global assessment report
of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Brondízio, E. S.,
Settele, J., Díaz, S., Ngo, H. T. (eds). IPBES secretariat,
Bonn, Germany.
152 pages DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3831881
P. 49–50: Emilio Hernández Martinez - Art work by Jacobo
& Maria Ángeles, Oaxaca, México
The designations employed and the presentation of material on the maps used in the present report do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning
the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. These maps have been prepared for the sole purpose of facilitating the
assessment of the broad biogeographical areas represented therein.
Table of
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................54
I. Indirect Drivers: The root causes of transformations – both pros and cons .......55
II. Direct Drivers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
III. Development Pathways .............................................61
2.1.1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................63
2.1.2 PAST TRAJECTORIES, THEIR TRADE-OFFS AND INEQUALITIES .................67 Maintain nature or meet society’s many & diverse short-run goals? . . . . . 67 Inequalities ..................................................69 Poverty and inequalities with respect to basic needs ................................69 Inequalities in Income ....................................................... 70 Lifestyles and Inequalities in Consumption. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Inequalities in Environmental Footprints ..........................................71 Inequalities in Social, Environmental, and Historical Constraints. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
2.1.3 INDIRECT DRIVERS: VALUES ................................................72 Different social groups hold different values .......................72 Values of nature are rapidly changing ............................73
2.1.4 INDIRECT DRIVERS: DEMOGRAPHIC .........................................75 Population dynamics ..........................................75 Migration ...................................................75 Urbanization .................................................76 Human Capital ...............................................77 Less Agricultural Extension ...................................................77 Indigenous and Local Knowledge ..............................................77 Environmental Education .....................................................78
2.1.5 INDIRECT DRIVERS: TECHNOLOGICAL .......................................79 Traditional Technologies (Indigenous and Local Knowledge) ...........79 Technological changes in primary sectors (with direct uses of nature) . . . . 80 Significant Transitions in Agriculture ............................................. 80 Limited Transitions in Biomass Energy ...........................................81 Technological changes, and trade-offs, within urbanization and industry . . . 81
2.1.6 INDIRECT DRIVERS: ECONOMIC .............................................83 Structural Transition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Economic Composition (shifts across sectors) ....................................83 Factors Supporting Sectoral Shifts .............................................84 Implications for nature of Sectoral Shifts (‘composition effects’) ........................85 Concentrated Production ......................................85 Trade ......................................................86 Goods & Materials Flows. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 Telecoupling and Spillovers: trade-offs embedded within the trading of goods ............ 87 Financial Flows ..............................................90 Remittances ..............................................................90 Financial Standards .........................................................90 Tax Havens ..............................................................91
2.1.9 INDIRECT DRIVERS: GOVERNANCE – STATES .................................95
53 Adjusting Development Policies .................................95 Property Rights & Resource-Use Rights ......................................... 95 Transportation Investments (by context) .........................................95 Subsidies to Fuels ......................................................... 96 Increasing Conservation Policies .................................97 Protected Areas and IPLC Lands/Participation ....................................97 Payments for Ecosystem Services and Other Incentives .............................98 Choosing Policy Instruments ..................................................99 Equity Considerations .........................................99 Wealth-based and Race-based Differences .......................................99 Policy Responses (rights, subsidies) ........................................... 101 Equity & Environmental/Energy Taxes (context dependence) ......................... 102
2.1.11 INDIRECT-TO-DIRECT DRIVERS: ACTIONS THAT DIRECTLY AFFECT NATURE ...106 Fisheries, Aquaculture and Mariculture ..........................106 Agriculture and grazing (crops, livestock, agroforestry) ..............109 Forestry (logging for wood & biofuels) ...........................110 Harvesting (wild plants and animals from seascapes and landscapes) . . 110 Mining (minerals, metals, oils, fossil fuels) ........................111 Infrastructure (dams, cities, roads) ..............................112 Tourism (intensive and nature-based) ...........................113 Relocations (of goods and people) ..............................114 Restoration ................................................114 Illegal activities with direct impacts on nature .....................115
2.1.13 DIRECT DRIVERS: LAND/SEA-USE CHANGES ................................119 Expansion of agriculture and cities ..............................119 Fragmentation ..............................................119 Landscape/seascape management intensification ..................119 Land degradation ............................................120
2.1.14 DIRECT DRIVERS: RESOURCE EXTRACTION .................................121 Rates of extraction of living and nonliving materials from nature .......121 Freshwater withdrawals .......................................121
2.1.15 DIRECT DRIVERS: POLLUTION .............................................122 Emissions into the atmosphere .................................122 Contaminants dissolved in/carried by water .......................123 Disposal or deposition of solids ................................125
2.1.16 DIRECT DRIVERS: INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES (IAS) ............................126
2.1.17 DIRECT DRIVERS: CLIMATE CHANGE .......................................126 Sea-Level Rise ..............................................127 Ocean Acidification ..........................................127
2.1.18 PAST PATHWAYS: INCREASING CONNECTIVITY & FEEDBACKS ...............128 Illustrating interconnections ....................................128 Evolving economic and environmental interactions .................128 Growing globalization ...................................................... 128 Spreading spillovers .......................................................130 Causing conflicts .........................................................132 Evolving economic and environmental trade-offs ...................134 Feedback loops and natural-social trajectories. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 Interactions, abrupt changes, and linked negative trends ...........................136 Citizen feedback to governance ..............................................137 Scaling up and extending positive responses ....................................138
REFERENCES ...................................................................142
Global transformation involved key trade-offs, and
inequalities, as growing interactions drove economic
growth but also degradation.
Accelerations in consumption and interconnection have had
i. Meeting basic material needs, and rising hopes
of growing populations has had trade-offs. Nature
has been degraded by the aggregated impacts of
myriad actions (well established). Today, humans
extract more from the earth than ever before (~60 billion
tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources) {2.1.2}
with population doubling over 50 years {2.1.4} and the per
person consumption of materials up 15% since 1980. Since
1970, global extraction of biomass, fossil fuels, minerals,
and metals increased sixfold {2.1.6, 2.1.11, 2.1.14}.
Urban area doubled since 1992 and half of agricultural
expansion (1980–2000) was into tropical forests {2.1.13}.
Fishing now covers over half the ocean {2.1.11}. Since
1980, greenhouse gas emissions doubled {2.1.11, 2.1.12},
raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degrees
{2.1.12} and plastic pollution increased tenfold {2.1.15}.
Over 80% of global wastewater is discharged into the
environment without treatment, while 300–400 million tons
of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes
are dumped into the world’s waters each year {2.1.15}.
Fertilizers enter coastal ecosystems, producing more than
400 hypoxic zones and affecting a total area of more than
245,000 km2 {2.1.15}. The number of recorded invasive
alien species doubled over 50 years {2.1.16}. Today, a
full 75% of the terrestrial environment, 40% of the marine
environment, and 50% of streams manifest severe impacts
of degradation {2.1.12}.
ii. Accomplishments and shortfalls in the past −
and the futures that we will shape − follow from
variations in values, demography, innovation, trade
and governance (well established). Over the last 50
years, utilitarian instrumental views framed nature chiefly
as a source of inputs, although narrow views have been
challenged by varied institutions {2.1.3}. Irrespective of
values, our increasing numbers drive degradation. Urban
concentration shifts the trade-offs that we face {2.1.4},
while education affects changes in populations and per-
person degradation − potentially at the cost of losses of
the knowledge held by IPLCs {2.1.4}. Scarcities in nature’s
contributions have driven innovations that shift trade-
offs, from the Green Revolution to massive hydroelectric
dams, with genetic engineering, fracking, wind power,
and other trends all to be fiercely debated {2.1.5}. The
diffusion of such innovations could lower total degradation,
while globalization has shifted degradation far away from
consumption {2.1.5, 2.1.6}. Local community governance
has organized more sustainable production {2.1.8} while
nations, as ‘global community citizens’, have initiated a
range of governance agreements, which had a range of
fates. Nations also have adopted domestic conservation
policies and even adjusted economic policies for nature
{2.1.9, 2.1.10}. Supply chains are challenging national
governance yet also signaling citizens’ environmental
preferences {2.1.7}.
iii. Within and across countries, outcomes
trajectories have been unequal – for nature, for
basic individual human needs, and for aggregate
economic growth rates (well established). Forest
cover stabilized in high income countries but since 1990
fell 30% in low income countries {2.1.11} as agricultural
area fell in the former but rose in the latter {2.1.11,
2.1.13}. Natural assets values fell 1% in low income
countries, since 1995, yet rose 5% in middle and upper-
middle income countries {2.1.2, 2.1.13}. While 860 million
people face food insecurity in Africa and Asia, obesity is
rising in high and middle income countries {2.1.2}. Per
capita demand for materials from nature is four times
higher in high and low income countries {2.1.2}. Per
capita consumption of animal protein rose by 50% during
1960–2010, to ~55 g/capita/day within the US and the
EU, and ~30 g/capita/day in Latin America, but only
~15 g/capita/day in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa {2.1.2}.
Contrasts are clear in the satisfaction of basic needs and
the maintenance of nature and the two are linked, e.g.,
40% of the globe’s population lacks access to clean and
safe drinking water and the highest gaps drive up child
mortality in Africa {2.1.2}. Environments-based health
burdens (e.g., air or water pollution) are born by people
with lower-income {2.1.2, 2.1.15}, while GDP per capita is
34 times larger in developed than in developing countries
and still it is rising faster within the former {2.1.2}.
I. Indirect Drivers: The root
causes of transformations – both
pros and cons
Values, demography, innovation, trade and
governance drive outcomes
1The ways in which nature is conceived of and
valued have had enormous implications for different
consumption and production choices that influence
degradation (well established). Values differ across
people, and evolve over time, informed by cultures and
experiences {}. Values toward nature may be
grounded in ethical principles, and relationships, or
predominantly utilitarian, focused on immediate preferences
or leaning toward consideration of the future {}.
Globalization, migration, urbanization, and climate change
are disruptors that can catalyse shifts in values towards
nature {2.1.3}. Relational worldviews and values with strong
ties to the land are central in many cultures around the
world, associated to self-imposed restriction based on
norms {2.1.3}. Narrower utilitarian, instrumental views of
nature as a source of economic inputs, though, underpinned
a variety of actions that promote resource extraction,
industrialization, urbanization, and global trade, which
continue to intensify {2.1.3}. Such views have been
challenged in the last fifty years by calls for other ethics to
mediate the interactions among and between humans and
nature {2.1.3}. Examples of such narratives are the “living in
harmony with nature” principle of the Rio 1992 Summit of
The Earth conference, the Mother Earth emphasis within
“the future we want” vision from Rio+20, and Pope Francis’
recent encyclical {2.1.3}. Such visions of well-being and
links to nature clearly have evolved over time {2.1.3}. For
instance, if nature is degraded over time, while economies
grow, core values may shift from a narrower orientation
toward economic development to an integration of other
dimensions such as varied capacities, justice, security and
equity − all linking with nature in different ways {2.1.3}. Yet,
stepping back, while all these views contributed to
conservation and restoration in some locations, at the global
level degradation of nature has continued despite increasing
high-level awareness of degradation and scarcity {2.1.3}.
2For any values, population size is a big factor in
scales of degradation (well established). Human
population has been growing, globally, doubling since 1970
overall, and despite regional variations this growth is
expected to continue − with implications for degradation
{2.1.4, 2.1.13}. The largest current increases are in least
developed countries and in Africa, where the total
population doubled, yet countries are starting to experience
decreases, as developed countries have experienced in the
past {2.1.4}. That said, those decreases in fertility rates
result not from an automatic ‘demographic transition’,
based upon economic development alone, but instead from
conditions including women’s empowerment and their
access to family planning methods {2.1.3}.
3Education causes and is caused by economic
growth – which in turn degrades, lowering human
capital – yet education also can influence the rates of
degradation (well established). Education has increased
globally, in particular for women, with implications for human
capital accumulation and, thereby, use of nature {2.1.4}.
Together, those capital assets form a large share of national
wealth, in particular for lower-income countries, and support
an ongoing investment in education {2.1.4}. Environmental
education can support lower degradation per unit of
economic growth, through shifts in both production and
individual habits {2.1.4}. This has benefits for human capital,
as for example pollution lowers human productivity
{2.1.4, 2.1.13}.
4Appreciation of indigenous and local knowledge
(ILK) for managing nature is rising yet, at the same
time, these local knowledge systems continue to be
degraded (well established). Indigenous and local
knowledge (ILK) generated within IPLCs increasingly is seen
as relevant for sustainable production. It offers broadly
applicable alternatives to centralized and technically oriented
solutions, which often have not substantially improved
prospects for smaller producers {2.1.4, 2.1.5, 2.1.11,
2.1.13}. Yet, at the very same time, values and knowledge
change with exposures including formal education, which
can erode local worldviews that prioritized nature
{2.1.3, 2.1.4}.
5Migration is both a cause and an effect of
nature’s degradation. Links in both directions are
connected to patterns of vulnerability, in rural as well
as urban areas (well established). Migration has
increased greatly, with 264 million international migrants
entering other countries since 1970: more to developed
countries {2.1.4}. Environmental and economic factors
contribute to this migration. Today, environmental migrants
number several million {2.1.2, 2.1.4} given inequity across
regions in conditions for well-being and in provisioning and
regulating contributions from nature that are among the
most important determinants {2.1.2, 2.1.4}. Immigrants are
often among the most vulnerable groups in society, with low
access to nature’s contributions to basic needs (water,
sanitation and nutrition), yet they can have impacts on how
nature is managed, including due to differences in values
{2.1.2, 2.1.4}.
6Urbanization has been rapid, with enormous
consequences including spatial patterns of land use
that affect nature and NCP provision in urban and rural
areas (well established). Today, close to 60% of the
world’s population lives in cities, with the fastest increases in
Asia and the Pacific (25% rise in urban share in 1980–2010)
and Africa (37%). There are 2.8 billion people now in
megacities, with the fastest growth in low- (45% since 1980)
and lower-middle income (39%) countries {2.1.4}. In the
developing world, many of those people live in slums, with a
low quality of environment and life {2.1.4}. Cities are sources
of innovations in transport, industry and medicine, however,
their high densities affect spatial patterns of land use and,
thereby, nature {2.1.4}. Urban consumers have huge impacts
and thus the potential to drive global changes {2.1.4}.
7By region, IPLC practices are expanding in their
use or disappearing (well established). Much of the
globe’s population appropriates natural resources via rural or
primary management of terrestrial, marine and freshwater
ecosystems {2.1.2, 2.1.4, 2.1.5}. Related IPLCs practices
based on long-standing knowledge of complex local
ecological systems are seen to be resilient in IPLCs and
among small-holders who together are ~2 billion people with
25% of land {2.1.5}. For instance, the agroforestry systems
in many tropical countries have common characteristics:
highly diversified, productive, complex, and using rotations in
agriculture – as well as grazing, hunting, and fishing {2.1.5}.
Yet a combination of lifestyle change, adaptation to climate
change, seasonal migration, enclosures, privatization, and
degradation of resources is strongly affecting both the
settlement patterns and the lifestyles of the peoples who
manage directly these diverse systems {2.1.5}.
8Technological advances in agriculture brought
new benefits and costs (well established). The Green
Revolution brought opportunities and risks − exemplifying
the need to consider both social and environmental
trade-offs of innovations that benefit aggregate economic
output {2.1.5}. Yields of rice, maize and wheat all increased,
steadily, through greater application of irrigation, fertilizers,
machinery, and seed varieties with higher yields and
resistance to disease {2.1.5}. Yet despite aggregate gains,
there were losses for some groups and for the environment
(all raising possible trade-offs in agricultural genetic
engineering) {2.1.5}. Food security may have fallen, for
some, as production shifted from subsistence approaches
which had fed Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
to monocultures that offered lower nutrition and access to
markets {2.1.2, 2.1.5}. Further, despite greater food
availability famine continued given institutional failures
{2.1.2, 2.1.5}.
9Transitions from biomass to other energy
sources have large impacts (well established).
Innovations have also greatly shifted how energy is produced
and used around the world {2.1.5}. More than in other
regions, households in sub-Saharan Africa and East Africa in
particular still depend on biomass for domestic energy
supply (and some high income countries are promoting
renewable woody biomass). By setting, this can adversely
affect human health and provision of contributions such as
climate regulation and species habitats {2.1.5}. Information
constraints, costs of capital, cultural preferences, and slow
development of market institutions inhibit adoptions of
modern fuels (e.g., liquid petroleum gas or electricity) {2.1.5}.
The resulting deforestation not only lowers multiple
contributions from nature but also threatens local supplies of
energy {2.1.5, 2.1.12}. Demands for energy are also
increasingly met by hydroelectric dams, with projected
expansions in Latin America, Africa and Asia − again
changing the production-degradation trade-offs {2.1.5}.
10 Scarcity of nature’s contributions has motivated
various adjustments (well established). Scarcities due to
the degradation of nature have motivated shifts towards
methods of production with lower material or environmental
intensities {}. For instance, households invest in
cleaner stoves when rising incomes raise food consumption
and thus also fuels consumption for cooking, such that
indoor air quality falls {2.1.5}. Information on water quality
motivates purification efforts from village infrastructures to
household filters and bottled water {2.1.5}. In irrigation,
scarcity of water quantity drives societal innovation like
upstream-downstream allocation committees {2.1.5}. High
prices for fossil fuels inspire novelties from rural extensions
of electric grids to solar lamps and wind energy as well as
batteries to store the output {2.1.5}. Positive effects of such
innovations include those from their diffusion {2.1.5}.
Broader use allows low income countries to avoid more
environmentally destructive stages of economic growth by
‘leapfrogging ahead’ to more modern technologies of
production with less degradation per unit of output {}.
Policy innovations may seek to spur such private innovation
and adoption in light of critical degradations of nature
{2.1.5}. Concerns about climate change, for instance, have
led to proposals for carbon taxes, so that fuel and other
prices reflect degradation and spur innovation in both
mitigation and adaptation {2.1.5}.
11 Transitions across sectors greatly influence the
degradation of nature (well established). As economies
have grown, since 1950, many have shifted from agriculture
toward both industry and services {2.1.6}, resulting in far
higher shares in agriculture for value added, and employment,
for the low income countries {2.1.6}. This affects
management of nature, given that industrialized economies
are characterized by the lowest materials intensities {2.1.6}
– although we must keep in mind that this is due in part to
their imports of agriculture (see below). At 0.5 tons of
domestic material consumption per US$1000 GDP, Europe
and North America had the lowest 2013 intensities (down
from 0.8 and 1 in 1980, respectively) {2.1.6}, as influenced
by the methods noted above as well as sectors
characterized by lower material per unit of economic output
{2.1.6}. Yet even material efficiency can be swamped by
rising production {2.1.6} and, while Asia’s intensity remained
relatively constant at ~2.5 tons per $1000 US GDP between
1980 and 1992, since 2003 intensity rose again, reaching
3.1 tons in 2013 − with immense impact on average global
intensity {2.1.6}. African economies still have the highest
intensities but gains over 3 0 years have been significant,
e.g., from 4.2 tons per $1000 US GDP in 1980 to 3.3 tons
in 2013 {2.1.6}. Evidence is mixed for time paths as
economies grow, with the scale of consumption potentially
offset by the mix of what is consumed and the way in which
it is produced. Forests show reversals from degradation to
recovery, while different pollution types have mixed paths,
including due to trade {2.1.6, 2.1.13}.
12 Concentration of output and funds – sometimes
associated with industrial innovation − influences
what is produced and who benefits within and across
countries (well established). Today, a few corporations
and/or financiers often control large shares of the flows in
any market, as well as amounts of capital assets that rival
total revenues for a vast majority of countries {2.1.6}. These
concentrations and their locations can hamper nature
governance efforts (see below) {2.1.6}. Related, increasing
shares of relevant sectors (e.g., coffee, fruits & vegetables,
textiles & apparel, furniture) are supplied through value
chains featuring considerable power at the retail ends
{2.1.6}. This affects bargaining in exchanges of labor, and
goods made with natural resources, including in the
agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors {2.1.6}. The
location of power additionally affects regulatory oversight,
with respect to environmental and social issues {2.1.6} –
e.g., infrastructure development is known for its murky
oversight and for its impacts upon nature. Funding via tax
havens provided 68% of foreign capital for Amazonian soy
and beef production and supported 70% of the vessels that
are implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
{2.1.6, 2.1.11}.
13 Expanding trade means consumption affects
degradation elsewhere (well established). Domestic
material consumption per capita is highest for the developed
countries and rapidly increasing for developing countries
{2.1.2, 2.1.6}. Net goods flows vary, with some countries
exporting more and others importing more {6}. Generally,
developed countries reduced agricultural outputs over the
last 50 years {2.1.6, 2.1.12}, and domestic water footprints,
while importing crops from low income countries {2.1.6}.
Environmental degradation from the production of those
traded goods should be taken into account in assessing
importing countries’ net impacts, as total impacts can rise
as domestic degradation falls {2.1.6}. This all influences
equity too, e.g., whether in current market institutions
suppliers of resources get ‘equitable’ compensation {2.1.6}.
Different trade-offs arise when forest in low income countries
is conserved by importing from high income countries,
which can occur when efficient uses of capital lower the
total areas in production – a phenomenon that may lower
local incomes in that sector or spur other local sectors
{2.1.6, 2.1.13}.
14 Pro-environmental signaling from consumers has
grown, within multiple supply chains, yet the
documentation of significant impacts on nature has
been limited (well established). Consumers at the ends
of supply chains increasingly request information about the
practices and the degradation linked with production. It can
be facilitated by civil society, even across borders, as third
parties collaborate with all of the private actors engaged in
varied exchanges {2.1.6, 2.1.7}. Sustainable production
certifications, terrestrial or marine, have risen greatly – for
practices both environmental and social – yet despite some
positive anecdotes, large impacts remain rare {2.1.6}.
15 Community governance has reduced or reversed
degradation (well established). Local actors have often
conserved nature in common property systems − using local
information, social norms, and abilities to impose cost
{2.1.2, 2.1.8}. For centuries, IPLCs have contributed in this
way to regional economies. In recent decades, the share of
resources such as forests governed by Indigenous Peoples
and Local Communities has grown {2.1.8}. Governance of
shared resources can be facilitated by access to resources
and information sharing; for instance, the unassessed
smaller fisheries have fared worse {2.1.8}. Lacking
comprehensive global data, we have sufficient cases of both
successes and failures to have learned that community
governance can be effective, yet it is not always {2.1.8}, and
successes may rely in part on the roles of formal
governments − e.g., without the public defense of local
rights to manage resource and to exclude others,
community areas of terrestrial and aquatic resources can be
invaded and local efforts thus undermined {2.1.8}.
16 Public clarifications of rights influence
investments that affect nature (well established).
Allocating private rights may generate conflicts concerning
fairness or equity − yet clear rights can improve the
efficiency of both investment and management by, e.g.,
smallholders who are incentivized to monitor nature locally,
as for terrestrial multiple-use protected areas {2.1.8, 2.1.9}.
Clear examples of the importance of rights also exist for
large- and small-scale fisheries which used rights-based
governance to maintain fish stocks {2.1.8}. Successes in
management have been more frequent when such local
rights were established in ways that respected local
procedures. When government ignores local governance,
public interventions can be destructive {2.1.8, 2.1.9}.
17 Public facilitation of sustainable land-use
practices − such as agroforestry, agroecology −
shows promise and perhaps potential for upscaling
(well established). With appropriate support, both
financial and non-financial, sustainable agroecological
practices have restored nature and its contributions. At
varied scales, these have been observed in multiple
locations across the globe from farmer-managed
regeneration in dry parkland forests in Africa to a variety of
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities forests which
function under forestry certifications {2.1.8}. Yet there can
also be spillovers from such intervention – e.g., raising
forest cover within a country may be facilitated by
degradation elsewhere, as forest clearing simply shifts (see
Asian examples) {2.1.8}.
18 Leading economic policies (e.g., roads, credit,
private rights) can be adjusted to lower degradation of
nature and potentially at a low cost to affected
economies (well established). One way governments
stimulate economies is by investing in infrastructures for
transport {2.1.9}. An obvious option to reduce its
degradation is planning the routes for economic corridors
{9}. With good local information, and processes, this can
lower the costs of satisfying all stakeholder safeguards.
Another core policy is establishing and enforcing clear
tenure {2.1.8, 2.1.9}. Clarifying smallholder rights, including
around customary tenure, can lower natural degradation
{2.1.8, 2.1.9}. Further, it can spur greater investment in
productivity, including within sustainable approaches.
19 Popular economic subsidies to degrading
behaviours can be adjusted (well established).
Subsidies to various forms of energy (gasoline, electricity,
etc.) are common and popular {2.1.9}. Possible adjustments
include maintaining income transfers while removing price
distortions that have raised environmentally damaging
behaviours {2.1.9}. Alternatively, such credits, or transfers,
can be made conditional on environmental metrics (just as in
conservation policies below) {2.1.9}.
20 Public conservation policies like protected areas
(PAs) and payments for ecosystem services (PES)
reduce degradation if pressure was confronted and
local actors engaged (well established). A growing set
‘payments for ecosystem services’ (PES) compensate local
actors for restrictions on uses of nature {2.1.9}. States also
directly restrict production or extraction as in protected
areas, the most extensive conservation measures, and
undertaken costly actions to restore nature {2.1.9}. The
gains for nature from such interventions have ranged from
none to quite significant, based on whether and how
pressures were confronted and if that included engaging
with locals {2.1.9}. Impacts have been more common in
high income countries, although funding transfers support
interventions in low income countries that provide global
public goods (e.g., carbon storage and habitats) {2.1.9}.
Restrictions in low income countries can have positive local
outcomes if support is provided yet unless local actors are a
focus, economic costs can be higher than local benefits
{2.1.9}. Generally, equity considerations can shift the
choices and implementation of such policy. Policies’ benefits
and costs often are not equally distributed across either
income levels or other dimensions, including race, though
who bears the burden varies greatly with varied use
patterns. Rights allocations and subsidies affect disparities,
in either direction − again varying by context.
21 Governments have coordinated to reduce some
types of degradation (well established). National
borders limit governance of transboundary resources. While
various global ‘commons’ are judged to be worth
conserving, including outside of national jurisdictions,
accountability for failures of sustainable management there
has been, at the least, uneven {2.1.10}. Like individuals in
communities, nations can agree upon self-regulations that
aid global ‘commons’ by mutually limiting degradation, even
when facing high costs of organizing restrictions, as well as
threats to their stability based on nations’ political shifts over
time {2.1.10}. For global coordination such as about
biodiversity, the ozone layer, the climate system, the oceans,
and poles, the coordination of actors can be even more
difficult than for local communities {2.1.10}. Still, even if
some policies have not had short-run impact, efforts are
ongoing. For example, a relatively recent endorsement by
170 states of FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible
Fisheries (CCRF) in 1995, as well as a growing endorsement
of The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter
and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing,
which came into force in June 2016 (now with 54 countries),
have contributed to a lowering of illegal, unreported, and
unregulated fishing {2.1.10}.
II. Direct Drivers
Demands have led to varied actions with multiple
impacts upon nature
II-A. DIRECT DRIVERS – SECTORS (actions that link
indirect drivers to aggregated impacts)
22 Fisheries have the largest footprint − with all of
industrial extraction, aquaculture and mariculture,
and the small fisheries critical for the livelihoods of
millions (well established). Today, industrial fishing has a
footprint four times larger than agriculture, in which more
than the 70,000 reported industrial fishing vessels cover at
least 55% of the oceans − with hotspots for fishing in the
northeast Atlantic, northwest Pacific, and upwelling regions
off South America and West Africa {2.1.11}. Smaller
fisheries account for over 90% of the commercial fishers
(over 100 million people), as well as nearly half (46%) of the
total global fish catch, yet the rest of global fish production
is quite concentrated, within a few countries and a few
corporations. Knowledge of inland fisheries is limited,
despite their societal and ecological significance
(accounting for up to 12% of global fisheries production).
The contribution of aquaculture and mariculture to global
fish production is increasing (6–9% growth in 1990–2012),
with mixed effects upon coastal and marine ecosystems.
While nearly 75% of the major marine fish stocks are
currently depleted, or overexploited, since 1992 the global
fishery community has incrementally adopted sustainable
development principles created under the umbrella of
mainstreaming biodiversity in fisheries.
23 Agriculture, including grazing, has immense
impacts upon terrestrial ecosystems, with important
differences depending upon enterprise’s intensity and
size (well established). Agricultural systems remain quite
varied, with plant- and animal-based systems,
monocultures and mixed farming, plus newly emerging
systems including organic, precision, and peri-urban
approaches to production. Today, over a third of the world’s
land surface and ~3/4 of freshwater resources are devoted
to agropastoral production {2.1.11}. Grazing occurs on
~50% of agricultural lands and ~70% of drylands {2.1.11}.
About 25% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from
land clearing, crop production, and fertilization, with
animal-based food contributing 75% of it. Intensive
agriculture has led to increases in food production at a cost
of multiple regulating and non-tangible contributions from
nature and even overall decreases in well-being in cases
{2.1.11}. Small land holders (< 2 ha) contribute ~30% of
global crop production and ~30% of the global food supply
− using 24% of agricultural land and with the largest
agrobiodiversity levels {2.1.11}. Their diverse agricultural
systems, developed over centuries, have reduced negative
impacts on nature, providing a wide range of material and
regulating and non-material contributions, while generating
the basis for sustainable agriculture intensification, soil
management and integrated pest management {2.1.11}.
Organic agriculture has developed rapidly, with variable
outcomes: in general, it has contributed to higher
biodiversity, improved soil or water quality, and nutritional
values, although often at the expense of lowering yields
and/or raising consumer prices {2.1.11}.
24 Industrial roundwood harvests have risen, while
bioenergy use rose dramatically in the rural areas of
poorer regions, with some sustainable forest
management (well established). Reductions in forest
cover during 1990 to 2015 totaled 290 million ha (~6%),
although the areas of planted forests rose by 110 million ha
(51%) {2.1.11}. Industrial roundwood made up half of the
global harvest (3.9 billion m3 in 2017), with fuelwood the
other half {2.1.11}. Industrial harvest is falling in high income
countries but rising in upper-middle and lower-middle
income countries {2.1.11}. Global bioenergy uses almost
tripled, largely in Africa, although bioenergy fell as a share −
from 15% to 10% − with 30% of global fuelwood deemed
unsustainable and over 200 million people facing rural
fuelwood scarcities, mostly in South Asia and East Africa
{2.1.11}. Sustainable forestry has been tried in many
countries, over some time, including for forest certification,
with some positive impacts upon forest cover and
biodiversity, although mixed social impacts {2.1.11}.
25 Harvesting wild plants and animals from land-
and seascapes supports the livelihoods of a large
share of the globe’s population, raising sustainability
concerns (well established). Over 350 million people −
mostly lower-income households in Africa, Asia, Latin
America − depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs)
for subsistence and income. Over six million tons of
medium-to-large-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles are
harvested in the tropics, annually, for bushmeat. Also,
~6 million wild ungulates are harvested in the Northern
Hemisphere every year, by game hunters {2.1.11}. Evidence
on sustainability is sparse, yet a well-managed harvesting of
resources with strong local involvement could benefit both
livelihoods and conservation {2.1.11}.
26 Mining has risen dramatically, with big impacts
on terrestrial biodiversity hotspots and global oceans,
mostly in developing areas with weaker regulation
(established but incomplete). Hundreds of mined
products serve quite diverse purposes, globally, contributing
more than 60% of 2014 GDP for 81 countries, with 17,000
large-scale sites in 171 countries. Most minerals are
produced by large international corporations {2.1.11}. Still,
small-scale mining is important in the livelihoods of many
rural poor in the developing world − where many
corporations have now located, given weaker environmental
and social regulations (Africa is estimated to have 40% of
global gold, 60% of cobalt, and 90% of platinum reserves)
{2.1.9, 2.1.11}. Such impacts of mining are a growing
concern, including per conflicts and illegality – although
systematic quantitative data are unavailable {2.1.9, 2.1.11,
2.1.13}. Mining utilizes under 1% of global land but its
negative impact on biodiversity, availability and quality of
water, and human health may be larger than from agriculture
{2.1.11}. Gold mining is of particular concern, given the
rising demands and big impacts on biodiversity hotspots
(despite protected areas) {2.1.11}. Ocean mining has been
increasing, with ~6,500 offshore oil and gas installations,
worldwide, in 53 countries (60% in the Gulf of Mexico) and
possible expansion in the Artic and Antarctic regions as ice
melts {2.1.11}.
27 Dams, roads, and cities have strong local
negative impacts on nature, yet they also can have
positive spillovers associated to increased efficiency
and innovation (well established). While new
infrastructure tends to have negative local consequences for
nature, it can also have significant positive and negative
spillovers {2.1.11}. The total number of dams has escalated
in 50 years, with ~50,000 large dams (> 15 m height), and
~17 million reservoirs (> 0.01 ha) holding ~8,070 km3 of
water {2.1.11}. Urban area, while accounting less than 3%
of the total land area, is rising faster than urban population
and is associated with large effects beyond cities, which
affect regional climates, hydrology and pollution {2.1.11}. Yet
urban areas can excel in stewardship, e.g., raising flood
resilience, reducing emissions, and constructing biodiversity
friendly spaces {2.1.11}. New transport infrastructure tends
to raise forest losses on frontiers, with direct negative
impacts on biodiversity, plus exacerbate the environmental
impacts of other developments, such as large mining
operations {2.1.11}. Yet within more developed settings,
shifts in transport costs can help forests {2.1.11}. Increasing
human encroachment, land reclamation, and coastal
development have strong impacts on coastal environments
{2.1.11}. More and better planned infrastructure is found in
higher income countries while fast, ill-planned expansion of
infrastructure is found in rapidly growing urban and
peri-urban settlements, especially in Africa and South and
East Asia {2.1.11}.
28 Tourism has risen dramatically with huge
impacts on nature overall, higher impacts for the
higher-end options, and mixed outcomes from
nature-based options (well established). Tourism grew
dramatically in the last 20 years both domestically and
internationally, especially from high and upper-middle
income countries, with international travel levels tripling
{2.1.11}. During 2009–2013, tourism’s carbon footprint rose
40% to 4.5 Gt of carbon dioxide (8% of the total greenhouse
gas emissions involved in transport and food consumption
related to tourism) {2.1.11}. Most of those emissions are in,
or from, high income countries. The impacts of a trip vary
1000-fold in terms of energy use, being higher for luxury
accommodations and selected transportation types for the
globally growing class of wealthy travelers {2.1.11}. The
demand for nature-based or eco-tourism also has risen,
with mixed effects on nature and societies {2.1.11}.
29 Both airborne and seaborne transportation of
goods and people has risen dramatically, causing
both increased pollution and a significant rise in
invasive alien species (well established). Transport of
goods and people has risen drastically over the last few
decades, with the number of air flights doubling globally
(1980–2010) and tripling for high income countries {2.1.11}.
Seaborne carriage has doubled for oil, quadrupled for
general cargo, and quintupled for grain and minerals over
this period, while the voyage lengths have also increased
{2.1.11}. The transport of goods and people have direct,
indirect, and cumulative impacts upon nature including
pollution (of air, water and soil), greenhouse gas emissions
(contributing 15% of the global CO2 emissions) and varied
durable consequences along trade routes including
introductions of invasive alien species {2.1.11}.
30 Restoration can offset current degradation levels,
with varied intensities and outcomes, although global
initiatives have focused mostly on our forests
(established but incomplete). Restoration increasingly is
required, given the ongoing degradation of various
ecosystem types. It offers direct and indirect benefits through
material, regulating and non-material NCP {2.1.11}.
Approaches range from passive to active − with distinct
costs, limitations, extents, and outcomes − though no global
data are available on its current extent and outcomes
{2.1.11}. One large-scale initiative is the Bonn Challenge
aiming to restore 350 M ha of degraded forestland worldwide
by 2030, yet no similar global challenges have been
proposed for any non-forest ecosystems {2.1.11}.
31 Illegal extraction – including fishing, forestry and
poaching – adds to unsustainability, yet is fostered by
markets (local, global) and poor governance
(established but incomplete). Illegal, unreported or
unregulated (IUU) fishing made up 33% of the world’s total
catch in 2011, being highest off the coast of West Africa and
in the Southwest Atlantic {2.1.11}. Illegal forestry supplies
10–15% of global timber, going up to 50% in some areas,
worsening both revenues (for private or state owners) and
livelihoods for poor rural inhabitants. Illegal pressures also
increase the costs of trying sustainable forest management
{2.1.11}. Illegal production of biofuels is large, especially for
small, poor, informal actors in Africa {2.1.11}. Poaching is
rising, pushing species (e.g., rhinos, tigers) toward extinction
despite considerable international efforts {2.1.11}. Illegality is
incentivized by high prices of species in demand and, for the
low prices often received by the poor, driven by weak
regulation and enforcement, with corruption and poor
management {2.1.11}.
32 The largest transformations in the last 30 years
have been from increases in urban area, expansions
of the areas fished, and the transformations of
tropical forests (well established). Today, 75 per cent of
the total land surface and 40 per cent of the ocean area are
severely altered {2.1.12}. The total area of cities has doubled
from 1992 to 2015, with the most severe impacts in tropical
and subtropical savannas and grasslands {2.1.13}.
Agriculture area in the tropics expanded mostly at the
expense of tropical forests, with large expansions (~35
million ha) associated with cattle ranching in Latin America,
linked to diets, and plantations, including for oil palm
{2.1.13}. Land-cover changes have led to increasing
fragmentation of the remaining forest as well {2.1.13}.
Technological advance in agriculture, fisheries and
aquaculture, and forestry has yielded at times irreversible
shifts in ecosystems and in nature’s contributions. These are
exacerbated by greater livestock densities, changes in fire
regimes, and intensifications leading to accelerated pollution
of soils and water {2.1.13}. Soil degradation − including
erosion, acidification, and salinity − has increased globally,
although further systematic and reliable information will be
required {2.1.13}.
33 Demands for materials for nature have escalated,
especially in developing countries and the Asia and
the Pacific region, accounting for unprecedented
global impacts (well established). The total demands for
living and nonliving materials increased sixfold from 1970 to
2010, while the demand for materials used in construction
and industry quadrupled during that time. The most drastic
increases in demands for construction materials – on the
order of ten times − occurred within developing countries
and the Asia and the Pacific region. The extraction of living
biomass from agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and other
activities has nearly tripled, globally − with the rapidly
growing developing countries having the highest current
levels for the rates of extraction for all living and nonliving
materials {2.1.12, 2.1.14}.
34 Pollution has been increasing at least as fast as
total population, with key differences by region and by
type of pollution − with more monitoring needed
(established but incomplete). While quantitative
assessment of pollution is limited in terms of the amount
and quality of data in many countries, current data show
pollution rising at least as fast as is the human population.
Untreated urban sewage, industrial and agriculture run-offs,
as well as oil spills, and dumping of toxic compounds, have
had strong negative effects on freshwater and marine water
quality {2.1.15}. Non-greenhouse gas atmospheric pollution,
such particulate matter, is highest in countries with low or no
regulation standards and poor enforcement, often at lower
income. Fertilizer use rose fourfold in only 13 years, in Asia
and the Pacific, and doubled in developing countries
{2.1.11, 2.1.15}.
35 Alien species increasingly are recorded across
continents, although less in Africa, given variable
rates of species ‘invasibility’ and monitoring capacity
(established but incomplete). Current cumulative records
of alien species are ~40 times larger in developed than in
least developed countries. Though comparable across
Europe and Central Asia, the Americas and Asia and the
Pacific, they are ~4 times lower in Africa {2.1.12, 2.1.16}.
This has resulted from increased trade and population
densities but also large differences in detection capacities
and ‘invasibility’ across alien species.
36 Climate has changed since pre-industrial times
due to anthropogenic activities and has influenced
impacts, on nature and society, of many other critical
drivers (well established). Anthropogenic activities − in
particular those raising greenhouse gas emissions − are
estimated to have caused approximately a 1.0°C warming
by 2017, versus pre-industrial times, with ~0.2°C (±0.1°C)
rises per decade. The fastest changes are observed in flat
landscapes at higher latitudes {2.1.17}. The frequency and
the magnitude of extreme weather events both have
increased across the last five decades, while the global
average sea level rose at a rate of over 3 mm yr-1 over the
last decades {2.1.12, 2.1.17}. Greenhouse gas emissions
per capita are highest for developed countries, though are
decreasing there; they are followed by those in developing
countries where they have increased by 10% since 1970.
Decreases are associated to changes in behaviour, due to
perceived threats, plus responses in governance and
innovation – as well as some shifts in emissions to other
countries {2.1.17}.
III. Development Pathways
Dominant development dynamics involved complex
interactions across countries and regions, leading to
inequalities in nature and trade-offs
37 Rising interactions via global trade shifted
consumption’s footprints (well established). The
consumption footprint per capita of each country, measured
as the amount of land needed to support consumption,
rises with per capita income or per capita GDP. Thus, it is far
from equal. It rises even more rapidly for elements beyond
the consuming country’s borders that can reflect stronger
governance of nature within the consuming countries. That
affects nature more in low income countries with weaker
governance {2.1.18}. Alternatively, production might shift to
more efficient locations and reduce total degradation as
efficient production lowers market incentives for supply.
Strategies in international governance also affect nature
beyond countries’ borders. For instance, protected areas
can block inefficient production in forest habitats in low
income tropical countries that are highly prized, shifting
production to less prized locations elsewhere. On net,
though, trade-based degradation has flowed toward those
countries with lower income.
38 The trade-offs between economic growth and
degradation have shifted (well established). Even for
higher-income countries, earlier economic development
during the last 50 years mostly occurred at the expense of
local nature. When trade and governance increased imports
of nature from low income countries, economic aid (perhaps
compensating global public goods as above) could provide
those countries with local net benefits {2.1.2, 2.1.18}. In
contrast, concentrating power in global supply chains
lowers economic returns in lower-income countries from
appropriations of nature – sometimes with net local
environmental and economic costs. These interactions
helped high income countries to protect their nature while
continuing to have economic growth {2.1.2, 2.1.18},
although the relative rates of growth, based on such
exchanges, depend on the bargaining power.
39 Economic and environmental inequality evolved,
across income levels (well established). Globally, GDP
per capita has increased relatively steadily over time {2.1.2}.
Increases have been unequal over space, however. Globally,
economic inequalities have steadily increased (note that
within countries, the evolutions of inequalities have been
uneven, averaging out to little change). That in turn can shift
bargaining power, yielding unequal divisions of the gains
from interactions, though dynamics can include
convergence, with more rapid GDP growth in emerging
economies (more generally, developing countries are
intermediate between the developed and least developed
countries’ pathways). Inequalities within and among
countries can make collective actions (coordination,
cooperation) that are needed for conserving and restoring
nature’s contributions even harder to achieve {2.1.2, 2.1.18}.
40 Social instabilities linked to scarcities in nature
are part of current and future threats to nature based
upon economic, social, and geopolitical conflicts
(established but incomplete). Conflicts result from
interactions concerning availability and control over nature’s
contributions {2.1.18}. More than 2,500 conflicts over fossil
fuels, water, food and land are currently occurring. Lower-
income countries that tend to be rich in natural resources
have experienced more conflict − exacerbating
environmental degradation, lowering GDP growth, and
raising migration {2.1.18}. Communities expelled from lands
or threatened by degradation (e.g., deforestation, mining or
the expansion of industrial logging) have been associated
with related violence (e.g., ~1,000 activists and journalists
killed during 2002 to 2013) {2.1.11, 2.1.18}. Armed conflicts
have direct physical impacts on ecosystems, beyond their
destabilizing effects on resource uses and productivity
{2.1.18}. The ecosystems relatively untouched by human
activities can be particularly vulnerable to intrusions of this
type, because remote ecosystems with few humans have
harbored illegal activities {2.1.11, 2.1.18}.
41 Social-ecological dynamics yield balances and
regime shifts (established but incomplete). Interactions
among drivers can generate iterative dynamics that raise
outcomes variability {2.1.18}. Some systems equilibrate,
e.g., if scarcities are perceived then prices and governance
initiatives may rise as responses, then recede {2.1.18}.
Other systemic interactions have led to rapid changes and
extreme outcomes including ‘regime shifts’ for ecosystem
functions: marine hypoxic zones; species invasions; or
desertification {2.1.18}. Some collapses have arisen in high
income settings, as challenges for rulemaking and
enforcement confounded local regulations, despite
capacities. Some dysfunctions have resulted in conflicts, in
and across societies, which extend dysfunction: e.g., food
shortages due to climate shifts, and unequal access, have
generated ‘food riots’ {2.1.18}. Serious conflicts and societal
shifts have arisen within mining, water, biodiversity, and land
− sometimes financed by resource extraction and
exacerbating environmental degradation {2.1.18}.
42 Dynamics include (nonlinear) recoveries to good
balances (established but incomplete). Systemic
interactions have led some settings towards a positive
‘equilibrium’, with a reduction of degradation or a restoration
of nature {2.1.18}. For example: policies that affect a fishery
stock by shifting some behaviours may ‘tip’ the setting into
sustainable harvesting, in which individual actors shift into
making choices consistent with stock preservation; or,
conservation sometimes spreads if one group observes
benefits to earlier adopters and, so, chooses to mimic their
actions. Further, individual nations’ participation in some
global collective agreements has spread when payoffs from
joining rise with the participation of other countries – so
leadership matters {2.1.18}.
The globe’s diverse citizens strive to achieve a good quality of
life, with diverse perspectives on what is needed to achieve
that, as a result of varied relationships with each other and
with nature. Nature supports all these individual and collective
pursuits, through contributions detailed in this volume (see
chapter 2.3): provisioning or material contributions, such as
food and timber; regulating contributions, such as climate
regulation and protection of soils; and cultural and non-
material contributions, such as learning and inspiration.
Meeting the individual and societal demands for nature
has posed severe and heterogeneous challenges. Some
groups still do not have their basic needs met from nature’s
contributions yet increasing demands upon nature are
exceeding rates at which contributions can be sustained
(IPBES, 2018b, 2018e, 2018c, 2018d). At current trends, we
risk drastic degradation, with drops in contributions critical for
societies and uneven distributions of losses.
Basic needs and luxuries depend on nature, i.e., on land,
plants and animals, minerals, and water whose supplies
depend upon myriad functions of ecosystems, such as
nutrient cycling and water purification. How nature is
manipulated, including within markets, depends upon
socioeconomic factors: values, incomes, technologies and
power (i.e., who determines which development ideas are
implemented and how). Scarcities drive human responses,
including governance institutions, from norms to national
policies. Yet markets’ prices often fail to reflect scarcities in
nature, thus degradation remains invisible in local and global
economic systems, for rural and urban settings. Likewise,
individuals and society often fail to fully recognize and to
incorporate the value from nature’s contributions, despite their
immense importance for multiple dimensions of well-being.
For this global assessment of nature, and its contributions
to people, we are concerned with all of these pursuits.
Every one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),
for instance, is critical. Yet we focus on the consequences
for nature from economic and social development
trajectories, over the past 50 years, that centrally involve
interactions across local, national and global scales. Those
consequences, in turn, enable or constrain potential for
future development, sustainable or otherwise. Our focus
in this chapter is on understanding the indirect and direct
drivers affecting past and present, and influencing possible
trajectories for nature, and people, at different scales.
To broadly describe the interactions between society and
nature that underpin trajectories within development, we
analyze the evolution of different categories of drivers that
affect nature and its contributions to people. First, we
cover indirect drivers, i.e., factors behind human choices
that affect nature. This starts with values, as goals affect
choices. We next consider ‘demographic’ (population,
migration, education) and then ‘technological’ (innovation)
factors. Next come the ‘economic’ factors: structural
transition, i.e., shifts across economic sectors such as
agriculture, manufacturing, and services; concentrated
production, i.e., shifts in output shares for big actors; and
trade as well as financial flows that continue to increase
within and across national borders.
Finally, we consider ‘governance’, an overarching sub-category
of indirect drivers that includes all types of governance.
They respond to scarcities in nature’s capacity to generate
contributions: scarcities increase the likelihoods of responses
although many other factors also determine them.
Within governance, we distinguish different forms, while
emphasizing their many interactions. We start with efforts
by private actors within supply chains, e.g., the certification
of production processes for environmentally beneficial
features for which at least some consumers would pay.
Moving outside markets, we consider coordination at local
levels within community governance. We then consider the
governance by formal states, i.e. policies from local scale
to national scale, and their interaction with community
governance which can either enhance or worsen outcomes.
Finally, we consider coordination across governments –
i.e., ‘global community governance’ – that must address
challenges similar to those which face smaller-scale
community governance.
We then move to the direct drivers, i.e., direct human
influences upon nature – in seven sections. The first section
(2.1.11) covers human actions, e.g., farming, fishing,
logging, and mining, that respond to indirect drivers and
directly affect nature. Interventions often aim to shift such
actions, based on theory and evidence about dominant
dynamics. Section 2.1.12 gives an overview of all the
influences on nature from those actions for aggregate
influences upon nature, which are detailed in the following
sections These include land/seascape change (2.1.13),
resource extraction (2.1.14), pollution (2.1.15), invasive alien
species (2.1.16) and climate change (2.1.17). Both sections
consider efforts to reduce degradation and recover nature,
i.e., restoration efforts and outcomes.
Following chapter 1, our final section (2.1.18) “closes
the loop”. Direct drivers feed processes in nature that, in
turn, feed into the process of co-production of all nature’s
contributions to people (NCP). In turn, NCP abundance
and scarcities affect the quality of life of everyone within
a society and, thereby, spur shifts in indirect drivers such
as values, market prices and other institutions. Thus,
we can work through cases of drivers’ consequences
coming around to shape drivers’ evolutions. We consider
the implications of such iterations for future (perhaps
sustainable) development pathways.
Understanding development trajectories with
global interconnections.
Intensified global interconnections have been a defining
feature of the last 50 years. Any global perspective includes
how regional, national, and subnational trajectories – for
nature, economic development and governance − have
interacted at a global level. Figures below articulate how
as a consequence, the trajectories observed across the
last 50 years, while related to each other, have differed
considerably across space and time, e.g., as experienced
by different groups of countries in terms of nature (Figure
2.1.1), economic growth, and environmental governance
(Figures 2.1.2-2.1.3). The figures aim to illustrate how least
developed, developing, and developed countries followed
distinct but interconnected trajectories, given differing and
interacting bundles of indirect and direct drivers in and
across regions with cumulative and/or cascading effects
over time. In many cases, varied trajectories are present
in single countries. An example for forests, in Box 2.1.1,
illustrates how various interconnections of multiple drivers
across and within regions shaped forest landscapes.
Observed historical trajectories for important elements of
nature can be summarized using a few possible steps:
degradation to start, almost surely; then possibly also
stabilization, and recovery (Figure 2.1.1). The trajectories
for different societies are not necessarily independent,
however, and we explore how they could be the result of
interacting trajectories of indirect and direct drivers – due to
individuals’ and societal choices. For instance, if one society
recovered certain capacities of nature after degrading them
(as is observed in various regions especially in the ‘Global
North’), how could that transition have occurred within
a world in which other societies did not choose or were
not able to reverse related negative trends within nature?
Looking across 50 years, were the observed transitions
simply independent choices by heterogeneous societies to
regulate more, or invest more in sustainability, or consume
less? Or did recoveries rely upon degradation in other
countries? And, going forward, what are the implications of
those interactions for trajectories?
Next, we wish to consider whether multiple dynamics could
generate each trajectory in Figure 2.1.1 because exactly
how a country or region managed to stabilize or to improve
elements of nature affects not only the sustainability of those
changes but also the implied consequences for others. For
instance, some societies enjoyed greater initial endowments
of particular natural resources − such as minerals, land,
climate, and ecosystem productivity on many dimensions
(Scheffer et al., 2017) − which in general could improve
those trajectories.
However, natural wealth alone has proven not to be
sufficient for ongoing positive trajectories, independent of
society’s institutions and choices. In fact, many distinct
evolutions of different bundles of indirect drivers could
affect nature similarly − i.e., generate the same trajectories
in Figure 2.1.1 − yet differ greatly in trade, governance,
Figure 2 1 1
Illustrative trajectories along differing development pathways for ‘nature’, i.e.,
its productive stocks or its capacity to generate valued contributions, at the
time scale of decades.
The fi rst trajectory is ongoing degradation, the second is stabilization after degradation, and the third is not only stabilization
but also a reversal or recovery. The vertical line is a point of transition, whose timing depends upon many factors, including
scarcities in nature.
3-Stabilization and recovery
1-Ongoing degradation
economic outputs, and various inequalities. Further, within
many of those dynamics, outcomes differ as a function of
countries’ development level (those additional dimensions
plus broad differences across development levels motivate
Figure 2.1.2).
Box 2.1.1 lists varied interconnections that shaped forest
landscapes, both illustrating Figure 2.1.1s trajectories, and
their interconnections at the global level, and illustrating that
there is a suite of different implications of the achievement
of Figure 2.1.1s trajectories. In and beyond forest cover,
these differing and interrelated possible trajectories for
nature involve some countries being able to ‘transition’
from the degradation of nature to a stabilization or a
recovery within their borders, while others incur the costs
of degradation. In other settings, the stabilization or the
recovery of nature in one country is not dependent on
degradation elsewhere, so reversal is possible for all.
Again, then, for forest cover, and beyond, the trajectories
of countries can be highly contrasting (motivating Figure
2.1.2). In general, provisioning contributions from nature
raised gross domestic product (GDP), even in per capita
terms despite rising populations, during initial degradation
of nature via transformations of ecosystems for agriculture
(i.e., to the left of Figure 2.1.2s transition). Further,
between-country economic inequality rose – while falling
or rising in different countries – since scales of economic
activity differed. Output per unit of natural degradation also
differed, as countries with higher income could combine
more physical, financial, educational and social capital with
their natural capital in production. They also could have had
different past histories, e.g., longer periods of depending
on nature beyond their borders, through colonization or
trade. Thus, many countries’ periods of early economic
development had similar impacts on nature but differed in
economic trajectories, including in trade and in (relatively
rare) governance of nature.
Nonetheless, each trajectory involves particular trade-
offs in meeting the society’s diverse needs, through
both production and conservation. Yet, since countries’
trajectories are not independent, given rising global
interconnections, which mechanisms or settings facilitate or
drive transitions has significant implications for who reaps
gains or bears the costs of degradation and recoveries.
Some possible inequalities in trade-offs between gains
and losses in nature and economic output, looking both
within and across countries, are illustrated by contrasting
trajectories in Figure 2.1.3.
Box 2 1 1 Multiple dynamics driving forest cover can underlie stabilization or recovery.
Forests provide examples for such dynamics (IPBES, 2018a).
Global forest cover has been close to stable in recent years,
yet forest cover decreased in some regions while stabilizing or
even recovering in others. Existing theories about processes
underlying such trajectories (Meyfroidt et al., 2018) propose
dynamics that have similar forest trajectories but differ on other
dimensions in Figure 2.1.2. Forest degradation often results
from agricultural expansion, for which there are many examples,
including within the tropics, where that remains a significant
phenomenon (Barlow et al., 2018; Curtis et al., 2018; Hansen
et al., 2013). This is common enough that it could explain initial
and continuing downward slopes within a version of Figure
2.1.1 for forest.
‘Forest transitions’ (Figure 2.1.1, Trajectory #2/#3) were
observed in Western Europe and North America (Mather &
Needle, 1998; Rudel, 1998), then East and South Asia (Foster
& Rosenzweig, 2003; Kauppi et al., 2006), and parts of Latin
America. Different dynamics underlying transitions have been
highlighted in varied literatures (Caldas et al., 2007; Geist et al.,
2006; Gutman et al., 2004; Rindfuss et al., 2004). We consider
some below.
Intensification. For a fixed area, outputs can rise via changing
knowledge and practices, inputs and tools to promote
‘intensification’ − such as double cropping or higher-yield crop
varieties (Thaler, 2017). Incorporating trees is an agropastoral
option which also aids biodiversity (Pagiola et al., 2016; Perfecto
& Vandermeer, 2010). If adoption of any of the above alternatives
were to be universal, then forests might stabilize or even recover
in all countries, while across-country inequality would depend
upon biophysical and societal constraints on yield.
Transition to manufacturing/services. A distinct dynamic
is sectoral transition from agriculture to manufacturing and
services, within processes of both urban and industrial growth
– often along with rural depopulation and a spatial contraction
of increasingly intensive agricultural production. This may raise
affluence and the demand for improving ecosystem health
and ensuing regulating and cultural contributions (e.g., Mather
& Needle, 1998; Rudel, 1998) that affect both governance
and trade (see, e.g., Mather, 2007; Rudel et al., 2005; Viña et
al., 2016).
Substitution by imports. Countries also have stabilized forest
cover by importing wood or food, grown at the expense of
forests elsewhere (Meyfroidt et al., 2010). In this dynamic,
recoveries rely on others’ degradation. Some countries follow
Trajectory #1, as still occurs in the tropics. With increasing
global trade, sources of inequalities between countries include
differences in who gained from these trades, given differences
in power across firms and countries, including in abilities to
increase value in forest and agricultural products through
transformation processes.
Consider, for instance, the degradation of nature as well
as the other outcomes from expansion and intensification
dynamics of economic activities. Regulations can limit the
areas affected by those activities (e.g., agriculture), and a
country also can invest to raise its outputs per unit area and,
further, even to lower total ‘environmental footprint’ (e.g.,
abandon activities and reforest); which can produce the
Self-Governing trajectory: recovery for nature, slower GDP
growth (Figure 2.1.3). Whether all this occurs depends on
whether the society places a sufficiently high value on forest.
Figure 2 1 2
Stylized sketches of average trajectories in developed countries outcomes A
and least developed countries outcomes B.
From bottom to top: quality of environment and natural resources (‘renewable’ like fi sh or trees, which regrow, or ‘non-
renewable’ like oil or ores); institutional features of economies (i.e., trade) and societies (i.e., governance); gross domestic
product (GDP) per capita; and inequality in GDP per capita. This fi gure builds upon Figure 2.1.1, with vertical lines indicating
times for transitions that, in reality, happen at different times in different countries.
(years differ by country)
(years differ by country)
GPD per Capita Self-Governance
for Nature/NCP
Imports of Nature
(embedded in
(averaging across
all the countries)
Some of both
in forest
(years differ by country)
GPD per Capita
Governed by Others
for Nature/NCP
Exports of Nature
(embedded in
(averaging across
all the countries)
Some of both
in forest
(years differ by country)
Instead, developed countries may conserve nature (e.g.,
forest cover) by importing forest and agricultural goods
from least developed countries, albeit at the expense of
nature for the exporters. For importers, an ‘Import Nature’
trajectory may be better than meeting needs by self-
governing, though whether this occurs depends on whether
exporters put a sufficiently low value on forests. The trade-
offs depend on export prices, as illustrated in two Export
Nature trajectories (Figure 2.1.3).
Alternatively, developed countries may advocate – and
cover the costs of – nature governance in least developed
countries such as strict protected areas that make some
local uses of forest illegal. That may provide global public
goods − yet sometimes by imposing net costs on the local
actors. A rise in nature could raise welfare for developed
countries, yet lower GDP for least developed countries,
if the latter cannot shift into other activities that support
economies (Globally Governed trajectory). This motivates a
quest for actions to help nature and local economies. For
instance, forests might also increase if enforced protected
areas flanked new railway links that facilitated urban growth.
INEQUALITIES Maintain nature or meet
society’s many and diverse short-
run goals?
Compared with pre-1980 realities, the world has changed
rapidly (Figure 2.1.4). Population, urban areas and
international migration have risen greatly. Overall, quality of
life has improved, in the senses of, e.g., lower child mortality,
or higher caloric intake, and varied summaries such as
the Human Development Index. Economic development
generally has advanced, in terms of per capita GDP and
per capita consumption, while the value of merchandise
being exported has also increased. Yet, these improvements
have come at a real cost: increasing impact upon nature.
Since 1980, food production systems have intensified and,
although the overall areas covered by cities and agriculture
have not drastically increased, more fertilizer and pesticides
are being used while total pollution (including greenhouse
gas emissions), the number of invasive alien species, and
temperature anomalies are increasing, and biodiversity
intactness is decreasing (see chapter 2.2 for more on
this variable) – despite increasing efforts to protect key
Figure 2 1 3
Stylized sketches of cross-country interactions in trajectories for material
contributions of nature.
y-axis = GDP per capita and capacity for future material, regulating and non-material contributions, x-axis = nature.
Imports and exports of nature are embodied in goods, e.g., water in food or trees in timber decrease for exporters and
increase for importers. As in Figures 2.1.1 and 2.1.2, a vertical line indicates a point of possible societal transitions.
Import Nature
Globally Governed
Export Nature
(higher prices)
Export Nature
(lower prices)
GDP starts higher and rises faster
Nature Governance on own terms
GDP starts lower and rises slower
Nature Governance from outside
Figure 2 1 4
Trends in indirect drivers for countries with different development levels.
The data shown are trends, per country, averaged ( A, B, C, D, E, F, H, I, and K) or totaled ( G, J) for each of the
three UN development categories: developed, developing, and least developed. Panels shown are: A Child mortality rate:
Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births); B Human Development Index: a summary measure of average achievement in
key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living;
C Calorie intake: Kilocalories consumed per person per day; D GDP per capita (gross domestic product divided by
midyear population) in constant 2010 U.S. dollars; E Globalization index: The KOF Globalization Index measures the
biodiversity areas (KBAs). These global patterns will be
described in detail in each of the sections of this chapter.
The trends differ widely, though, across countries, global
regions, and regions within countries. To highlight some
differences, we use a typology that divides all countries into
three development level categories (Figure 2.1.4): developed,
developing, and least developed, based on Gross Domestic
Product (GDP)1. We also use the four World Bank categories
of income: lower, lower-middle, upper-middle and high
income (World Bank, 2018r), that can be aggregated (lower-
middle and upper-middle into middle) or disaggregated (high
income OECD and high income oil and high income other)
as needed (Figure S2). Additionally, we refer to the IPBES
regions (Figure S2): Africa, Americas, Europe and Central
Asia, Asia and the Pacific (see Supplementary Materials: Table
2 for a comparison of typologies). Inequalities Poverty and inequalities with
respect to basic needs
There have been some marked advances in terms of
poverty reduction over the past few decades (Figure S5),
though many people around the world still remain in poverty.
Per the “international poverty line” established by the World
Bank in 2008, equivalent to a daily income below $1.90 US
dollars/person (in 2015 prices) (Ravallion et al., 2008),
~1.2 billion people still live in poverty (UN, 2016a). According
to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), introduced
in 2010 in the Human Development Report (UNDP) using
metrics for health, education, and standard of living, still
~1.5 billion people are living in extreme poverty.
Further, even while overall income has risen on average to
above the international poverty line, clearly many other basic
needs have not been met, despite significant global stresses
on nature. Globally, food security (i.e., security in food supply,
with elimination of caloric and nutritional deficiencies) has been
increasing but remains low within least developed countries.
Currently, despite average gains over time at the global level,
close to 860 million people still suffer severe food insecurity
across the globe, of which 48% are in Africa (particularly in sub-
Saharan Africa) and 45% in Latin America (Figure S3) (WFP,
2017). Conflicts, refugee crises, droughts, floods, pandemics,
and inadequate social institutions all have contributed to
shortfalls both in aggregate food production, or food availability,
and in the effective food supply, with 37 countries (28 in Africa)
having received emergency food aid in 2016 (WFP, 2017).
In addition, while the child mortality rate – largely associated
with a lack of water sanitation and food deficiencies – has
decreased overall, this threat remains prevalent in low
income countries, in which as many as 10% of the children
born alive die before age 5 (World Bank, 2018l). Regionally,
Africa and the Americas show highest mortality (Figure S3).
While access to improved water resources has increased, on
average, 40% of the world’s population still is lacking access
to safe drinking water, most of them in least developed
countries, especially within sub-Saharan Africa (WHO &
UNICEF, 2017). Furthermore, almost all maternal deaths
during childbirth (99%) occur in developing countries, over
half in sub-Saharan Africa (Wang et al., 2011), as a result of
water scarcity, poor management, and governance failures.
In terms of broader measures of well-being, the Human
Development Index (HDI) that includes income, health
(life expectancy at birth), and education (average number
of years of schooling) (UN, 2016a) also illustrates great
contrasts across the planet. Least developed and
developing countries have much lower HDI values than do
the developed countries (Figure 2.1.4; UNDP, 2016a). Africa
has the lowest HDI values among IPBES regions, followed
by Asia (Figure S3). Across regions, Indigenous Peoples and
Local Communities (IPLCs) are among the poorest groups,
by income but also in access to basic needs, services, and
opportunities (Hall & Patrinos, 2012).
Countries differ in many other well-being metrics too
(Figure 2.1.4, Figure S4), such as material conditions for
life – frequently assessed from an economic perspective
with economic indicators (see section 2.1.3). Higher-income
countries rank higher for indicators associated with societal
economic, social and political dimensions of globalization; F Domestic material consumption per capita: all materials
used by the economy, either extracted from the domestic territory or imported from other countries; G Merchandise
exports: value of goods provided to the rest of the world per country valued in current U.S. dollars; H Total population;
I Proportion of urban population: Proportion of the total population that is urban, which refers to people living in urban
areas; J International Migrant Stock: the number of people born in a country other than that in which they live (includes
refugees); K Absence of confl ict as an indicator of political stability: Index that measures perceptions of the likelihood
that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically-motivated
violence as well as terrorism; LProtection of key biodiversity areas (KBA): measures progress towards protecting the
most important sites for biodiversity in % of such sites per country (including Alliance for Zero Extinction sites ).
Sources: BirdLife International (2018); FAO (2016a); KOF Swiss Economic Institute (2018); UNDP (2016b); UNEP-WCMC &
IUCN (2018); World Bank (2018l, 2018i, 2018q, 2018k, 2018n); WU & Dittrich (2014).
development and for sustainability (Figure S4) (Eira et al.,
2013; Inuit Circumpolar Council, 2015; Raymond-Yakoubian
& Angnaboogok, 2017), including for various indicators of
the options citizens have, also called ‘freedoms’, that are
included in the World Happiness Index (WHI, 2017) (Figure
S4). These countries also have better conditions than
low income countries for access, equality, tolerance, and
inclusion of minorities, as shown by the Social Progress
Index (SPI, 2017) (Figure S4). With respect to metrics for
the management of ecosystem services and environmental
policies such as Environmental Performance Index (EPI,
2018), low income countries rank lower. Yet they rank
higher in terms of indicators for diversity, environmental
degradation, and ecological footprint, including consumption
of renewable water resources. Low income countries exhibit
higher rankings in the Environmental Component of the
Social Sustainability Index (SSI.EV; Figure S4) which includes
linguistic diversity (Maffi, 2005), cultural identity, and the
retention over time of indigenous ecological knowledge as
well as practices (Sterling et al., 2017). Inequalities in Income
Economic inequality across all countries has been rising
since 1820 (Bourguignon & Morrisson, 2002; World Bank,
2018r), and also has escalated since 1980 (Figure 2.1.4;
Figure S2; Figure S3; Figure S5; World Bank, 2018o), with
the highest-income countries increasing their incomes faster
(OECD, 2015). In 2017, the GDP per capita was nearly four
times higher in developed than in developing countries and
nearly 34 times higher than in least developed countries
(Figure 2.1.4; World Bank, 2018i). In terms of growth, GDP
per capita is rising fastest for developed and developing
countries, but slower in least developed countries, making
the gap among these particular groups larger every year.
Within-country inequality also shifted over time in many
countries. However, the changes went in both positive
and negative directions, and so on average, within-
country inequality remained fairly constant (Bourguignon
& Morrisson, 2002; World Bank, 2018o). Still, quite a
few countries experienced rising within-country income
inequality, as expressed by metrics such as the Gini
coefficient (Figure S5) or the Palma ratio (Palma, 2006), with
cases in which lower incomes fell while higher incomes rose
− particularly in the Americas and Africa. Lifestyles and Inequalities in
Consumption too has been escalating, across the last
few decades, albeit with differences among countries and
global regions. Energy consumption has been rising since
the industrial revolution. Wood and oil from whales were
replaced in the early 1900s by coal, petroleum and natural
gas (Smil, 2004). By the middle of the 20th Century, the
“Green Revolution” boosted agricultural yields through
the application of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and
herbicides, together with irrigation, all of which increased
energy demands (Dzioubinski & Chipman, 1999). Total
energy use has doubled in the last 40 years (World
Bank, 2018g) (Figure S6), while substantial transitions to
modern gridded clean fuels occurred between 1990 and
2010 (Pachauri et al., 2012), allowing ~1.7 billion people
access to electricity and about ~1.6 billion people access
to non-solid fuels for household cooking. The greatest
increases have occurred in middle income countries, while
low income countries exhibited lower increases (Figure
S6; World Bank, 2018a) with real variations in rates of
technological development and in the initial endowments of
energy resources (Burke, 2010; Toman & Jemelkova, 2017).
For instance, high income non-oil-producing countries
have been gradually reducing their use of fossil fuels and
increasing the use of nuclear and other non-fossil-fuel
sources (Figure S7). Among the highest energy consumers,
in total as well as per capita, are high income countries
where intensive agriculture is more prevalent (Figure S9).
Global patterns of food consumption have also changed
over the past fifty years, with important differences by
country (Figure S6). As nations urbanize, urban dwellers
get wealthier, food supplies increase, and eating habits
change. Diets are rising in refined carbohydrates, added
sugars, fats, and animal-based foods (e.g., meats, dairy) but
falling in pulses, vegetables, coarse grains, fruits, complex
carbohydrates and fiber, in tandem with the diversity of
food sources (Keats & Wiggins, 2014; Khoury et al., 2014;
Popkin et al., 2012; Tilman & Clark, 2014). Again, the
variations across regions are significant. From 1970 to
2015, global average caloric intake per capita rose by 15%
− yet developed countries have the highest levels (Figure
2.1.4), particularly in Europe (Figure S3), while the lowest
levels are found in least developed countries (Figure 2.1.4),
particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (Figure S3). Likewise, by
2009 while the average per capita consumption of protein
exceeded the average estimated daily requirements in all
the regions of the globe, it is the highest in high income
countries (FAO, 2011b, 2016a; Paul, 1989; Walpole et
al., 2012).
With those changes in diet, the number of obese and
overweight people has grown (Figure S6), to 2.1 billion in
2013 (Ng et al., 2014). This too differs by region, with six
times more obese people in high income than low income
countries today (Figure S6). Furthermore, there are large
variations across regions in the amount of fats (e.g., fats
in foods and oils) for human consumption. The lowest
quantities consumed are in Africa, while the highest are in
parts of North America and Europe. Both the quantities
and qualities (animal-based versus vegetable oils) of fats
are key features of the nutritional transitions in national diets
(Ranganathan et al., 2016). Fast-food options are rising in
low income countries, as exemplified by the higher numbers
of chain restaurants (e.g., McDonald’s restaurants2).
New ‘needs’ have also emerged with economic
development. For instance, after mobile phones first
became accessible, their number quickly “exploded” to one
for every five people in the world (Figure S6). In addition
to providing useful services, phones cause important
environmental impacts associated with mining of precious
metals for components and with both the manufacture of
electronics and their careless disposal (Babu et al., 2007;
Fehske et al., 2011; Wanger, 2011; Widmer et al., 2005). Inequalities in Environmental
With changes in lifestyle, per capita demand for natural
resources has increased – unevenly (Figure 2.1.4, Figure
S1). For instance, domestic material consumption (DMC)
− the total amount of material directly used in an economy,
including domestic extraction and imports (Wiedmann et al.,
2015; WU, 2017) varies greatly. DMC per capita is ~5 times
larger in high income countries than low income. As DMC
per capita rose by 15% globally since 1980 (18% since
1970), the largest increases are in developing countries
(73% since 1970), followed by least developed (18% since
1970; Figure 2.1.4). By IPBES region, since 1980, DMC
rose most in Asia and the Pacific (20%), followed by Africa
(18%), and rose least in Europe and Central Asia (7%)
(Figure S3).
Such demands upon nature scale with both the total
population and demand per person. As such, since 1970,
global material consumption has risen over 1.4 times faster
than has total population (Figure 2.1.4, Figure S1). With
every 10% increase in GDP, the average material footprint of
nations – raw material extraction in the final demand of an
economy – has risen by 6% (Wiedmann et al., 2015; WU,
2017). Once again, growth rates for absolute and for per
capita material consumption are unequal. For example, from
1980 to 2008 they increased in all regions except Central Asia
(due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union) and most
rapidly in Northeast Asia (Wiedmann et al., 2015; WU, 2017).
The global amount of material extraction was approximately
70 billion tons in 2008 (Wiedmann et al., 2015; WU, 2017).
Asia has the highest material extraction of all the regions,
while 2008’s per capita consumption in North America was
ten times higher, at 30 to 35 tons of raw materials, than in
Central Africa (Figure S18). Total material extraction (living and
nonliving) in developing countries is rising the fastest, due to
rapid increases in total population and GDP and DMC per
capita (Figure 2.1.12, Figure S17, Figure S18, Figure S25).
All of this has impacts upon ecosystems. Estimates of
ecological footprints, based on demands for both material
and regulating contributions to people from nature, suggest
sustained increases of footprints that are beyond the
biological capacity to supply them (Borucke et al., 2013;
Galli et al., 2016, 2014; Lazarus et al., 2015; Lin et al.,
2015; Wackernagel et al., 2014). This is especially true for
the developing countries that are growing fastest in people,
per capita demand, and globalization (Figure 2.1.4).
Critically, environmental footprints of country consumption
increasingly stretch beyond borders (as discussed in the
introduction, see Figures 2.1.2 and 2.1.3). The world
is ever more global, in economic, social, and political
terms (Figure S1). Globalization metrics are highest for
developed countries and lowest for least developed
countries (Figure 2.1.4). Such indices of increased
resource flows include a 12-fold rise in the value of exports
from 1970 to 2017, with fastest increases in developing
countries (20-fold), followed by least developed ones (15-
fold) (Figure 2.1.4). Footprints associated with exports can
be larger than is indicated by these trade values, though,
because the usage of resources is, on average, larger than
physical quantities of traded goods (Wiedmann et al., 2015). Inequalities in Social,
Environmental, and Historical Constraints
Differences in current conditions and trends among
countries are associated partly with different natural
endowments. High income OECD countries and upper-
middle income countries have the largest fractions of
renewable freshwater resources and agricultural lands, for
instance, while oil-producing high income countries have
the smallest such fractions (Figure S7), although the largest
for nonrenewable resources (e.g., petroleum, natural gas).
Forest cover is similar for countries with rather different
income levels, except for oil-producing countries that have
little (S7). Globally, natural assets represent about one
tenth of total wealth, with produced capital three times and
human capital six times as large. Yet for some countries with
lower income levels, the natural capital constitutes most of
their wealth (World Bank, 2018o). The contribution of natural
capital to total wealth for high income countries is relatively
small, roughly half the magnitude of the shares for low
income countries (Lange et al., 2018a). Thus, degradation of
nature should have the strongest detrimental impacts on low
income countries’ future economic development.
Beyond the roles natural conditions play in divergent
development pathways among countries – which are
debated (Diamond, 1997; Gallup et al., 1999) − countries
also differ in institutions, e.g., in governance, culture,
religion, philosophies, and past development. The colonial
period was characterized by natural resource flows
from the South to the North that often were linked with
ecological damage and social oppression (Goeminne
& Paredis, 2010; Nagendra, 2018). As a result, tropical
civilizations whose total wealth was closer to their European
counterparts in the precolonial era are now far poorer
(Acemoglu et al., 2005). Patterns of poverty in the tropics
have been linked to a variety of institutions, such as some
arrangements that enable inclusive economic growth that
lowers poverty (Acemoglu et al., 2001; Easterly & Levine,
2003; Rodrik et al., 2004). The current patterns of poverty
and the environmental conditions in the Americas, Asia
and the Pacific, and Africa are still strongly influenced by
the pervasive experience of past colonialism (16th to 19th
centuries). Its continuing influences upon resource flows and
trade arrangements contribute to persistent social inequality
as well as weak governance institutions which perpetuate
inequalities (IPBES, 2018b).
For instance, most economic growth in the last 50 years
occurred in countries not experiencing civil conflict and
with strong state institutions. Additionally, 70% of today’s
poor live in “fragile states” with cycles of violence, weak
institutions, inequality, and low growth. All are obstacles
to overcoming poverty (Sachs, 2005; Smith, 2007; World
Bank, 2015a). Developed countries are more politically
stable (Figure 2.1.4), e.g., with European countries more
stable than African (Figure S3).
All these inequalities have important societal and
environmental consequences – for instance, differential
conservation practices, depending on governance contexts.
Inequality is associated with less protected land for relatively
democratic countries, yet the reverse is true for relatively
undemocratic countries (Kashwan, 2017). Some suggest
nonlinear linkages between inequality and both economic
and environmental outcomes (Dorling, 2010, 2012; Holland
et al., 2009; Mikkelson et al., 2007). Equality has generally
facilitated collective efforts to protect natural resources
under common and public ownership or control (Baland &
Platteau, 1999, 2007; Bromley & Feeny, 1992; Colchester,
1994; Dayton-Johnson & Bardhan, 2002; Itaya et al., 1997;
Ostrom, 2015; Ostrom et al., 1999; Scruggs, 1998; Templet,
1995). Inequality may yield social and environmental
vulnerabilities, including through the distribution of risk (Bolin
& Kurtz, 2018). Inequality may also lead to conflict and, if
both become self-sustaining by limiting opportunities and
mobility − yielding hopelessness and a lack of a vision –
that can fundamentally undermine the motivation to invest
in nature for sustainability (Stiglitz, 2013; Wilkinson &
Pickett, 2010).
VALUES Different social groups
hold different values
The different values people hold concerning nature, nature’s
contributions to people, and their relationship to the quality
of life affect people’s attitudes toward nature and, thus, the
policies, norms, and technologies which modulate people’s
interactions with nature. Values encompass principles or
moral judgments that can lead to responsibility concerning,
and stewardship towards, nature. They also encompass
varied views about the importance or significance of
something or a particular course of action. For instance,
as highlighted within ‘the water-diamond paradox’, even
though water is necessary for life, while diamonds clearly
are not at all, the market prices for diamonds usually are
far higher due to (at times intentional) market scarcities
(Chan et al., 2016; IPBES, 2015; Pascual et al., 2017a; see
chapter 1).
Values concerning nature can be relational, instrumental
or intrinsic (chapter 1). Individuals and social groups who
hold in high regard their relationships with nature often
hold moral principles for living in harmony with nature.
Such relational values are central for Indigenous cultures
in many parts of the world. This is the case, for instance,
of the Eeyouch of the Eastern Subarctic in Canada, who
traditionally view humans, other animals, plants, some
aspects of the natural world, and spiritual beings as all
having conscious agency in a world that is dependent on
relationships and on an ethic of mutual respect (Berkes,
2012; Descola, 2013; Motte-Florac et al., 2012; Pascual et
al., 2017a). Also, some groups in the Tibetan plateau hold
that intangible and mythical creatures or deities inhabit
soils, water, air, rocks and mountains, and have different
qualities and identities with whom humans need to find a
balanced mode of interaction (Dorje, 2011). Aymara and
Quechua communities in the Andes, as groups elsewhere
using this or other terms, conceptualize Mother Earth
as a self-regulatory organism representing the totality of
time and space and integrating the many relationships
among all the living beings. Such conceptualization is
used by many Indigenous organizations to re-establish
cultural links to ancestral practices and to contest forms
of environmental degradation that are imposed on them
(Medina, 2006, 2010; Ogutu, 1992; Posey, 1999; Rist,
2002). Relational views such as these examples support
approaches to governance that reaffirm important points
of interconnection and virtues (e.g., respect, humility,
gratitude) and often lead to self-imposed restrictions on
use of nature (Mosha, 1999; Spiller et al., 2011; Verbos &
Humphries, 2014).
Instrumental values, in contrast, reflect the importance of
an entity in terms of its contribution to an end, or its utility.
Entities can provide instrumental value for consumptive (e.g.,
use of water, energy, biomass, food) and nonconsumptive
(e.g., nutrient cycling) uses. Utilitarian paradigms viewing
nature as a resource for economic development have
intensified over the last centuries, especially in industrialized
regions. In this anthropocentric, materialist worldview nature
is seen as a pool of material goods and energies to be
mastered and employed (Merchant, 1980; Nash, 1989;
Pepper, 1996; Plumwood, 1991), supporting the extraction
of biodiversity and resources (Dietz & Engels, 2017)
and both substitutability and discounting perspectives.
Substitutability implies that ecosystems or their functions
could be lost as long as their contributions to quality of life
are provided in other ways (Traeger, 2011). Discounting
gives less importance in decisions to future benefits or costs
(Dobson, 1999; Padilla, 2002) – following the assumption
that future generations will be better off (much as current
generations are better off than the past (above)).
In practice, values can be simultaneously instrumental and
relational. Many Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
in varied rural settings, for instance – indeed across the
IPBES regions – relate to nature with deep respect not only
due to their conceptualizations of key relational values but
also because their livelihoods depend upon the food and
other materials that nature provides.
Intrinsic values are an inherent property of the entity (e.g.,
an organism), not ascribed by external valuing agents
(such as human beings). Because of this independence
from humans’ experiences, intrinsic values are beyond the
scope of anthropocentric valuation approaches (Díaz et al.,
2015). Intrinsic values can be particularly relevant in nature
for non-human and even nonliving entities (Krebs, 1999).
In the face of environmental degradation, environmental
movements in the 1970s advocated for the intrinsic
value of natural entities (Hay, 2002), regardless of their
usefulness to humans. These included sentient animals
(Singer, 1975), all living beings (Taylor, 1981) or ecosystems
with living and nonliving components (Devall & Sessions,
1985). Intrinsic values have been presented as a basis for
laws and regulations or other governance to implement
conservation agendas that minimize humans’ interactions
with nature (Purser & Park, 1995) while ensuring the well-
being of future human generations by maintaining nature’s
contributions to people (Mace, 2014). Some argue that the
intrinsic value of non-human entities and its implications for
biodiversity conservation could be considered as part of a
wide instrumental perspective (Justus et al., 2009; Maguire
& Justus, 2008).
Nature is also valued today for its contributions into
the future (Faith, 2016; UNEP, 2015), from a number
of perspectives. Bequest values consider present-day
satisfaction of protecting nature for future generations, for
instance, involving a principle of intergenerational equity.
Insurance values pertain to resilience, in the face of change,
while option values facing uncertainty focus on retaining
the potential to access nature’s benefits in future (Gómez-
Baggethun et al., 2014).
Access to food, water, shelter, health, education, good
social relationships, livelihoods, security, equality, identity,
prosperity, spirituality, as well as freedoms of choice,
action and participation, are valued in different ways by
people in a society and across different societies (Díaz
et al., 2015). Some of these values may be expressed
through the use of a standard of exchange used by a
community, such as money. Monetary value is considered
a proxy for how people may perceive the worth of an
entity. Multiple considerations influence the estimation of
an entity’s monetary value – or the amount that people
are willing to pay – which complicates the identification of
its full significance. Due to the diverse ways of conceiving
and experiencing the relationships between humans
and the rest of nature, people also often value nature
and nature’s contributions to people, including many
ecosystem services, in ways that are incompatible with the
reasoning in monetary exchanges (Pascual et al., 2017b;
UNEP, 2015). Values of nature are
rapidly changing
The values at the core of individual and social priorities
and behaviours also can evolve over time, informed by
awareness, experience, culture and society. Pressures
associated with globalization, climate change, and
population migration over the last century have been
catalysts for social and cultural changes – including changes
in the human perceptions of and relationships with nature.
While urbanization may separate people from nature, there
is a trend towards greater awareness of the importance of
nature to human well-being in the scientific community and
across society.
Long-standing values held by communities with strong
ties to the land are increasingly disrupted, however, by
economic globalization (Beng-Huat, 1998; Brosi et al., 2007;
Jameson & Miyoshi, 1998). Varied global influences can
challenge local practices, including in the implementation
of conservation. Local conceptualizations of conservation
may differ from external conservation paradigms (Miura,
2005), although perhaps even more from consumptive
views on exploiting remote ecosystems. Changes in values
and lifestyle include the abandonment of indigenous and
local knowledge, and traditional practices (Halmy, 2016),
the erosion of traditional knowledge (Youn, 2009), and
changes in institutions and community organizations (Mburu
& Kaguna, 2016; Ole Kaunga, 2017), as documented by
IPBES assessments (IPBES, 2018b).
Migration, domestic and international, can disrupt
relationships between communities and lands if arriving
attitudes are not adapted to local socioecological
conditions. Migration (resulting from conflict, lack of
livelihood, urbanization, industrialization of agriculture, and
changes in climate, among other reasons) can lead to local
and also global losses of local environmental knowledge,
governance and management practices that sustained local
livelihoods (Merino, 2012; Robson & Lichtenstein, 2013).
Significant numbers of people changing locations has
driven changes in the worldviews, values, and practices of
populations that migrate as well as those that receive them.
Climate change itself can also lead to changes in practices
and the values associated with them (beyond effects
through migration). For instance, both farmers and
fishermen have been forced to shift daily and seasonal
practices that affect not only their livelihood outcomes
but also their long-standing senses of place, community
structure, and cultural tradition (Breslow et al., 2014).
A new ethic regarding nature has been called ‘environmental
activism’ to explicitly challenge the dominance of the
instrumental values (Callicott, 1989; Dunlap & Van Liere,
1978; Guthrie, 1971; Leach et al., 1999; Leopold, 2014;
Levins et al., 1998; Meadows et al., 1972; Naess, 1973).
Recent examples include Pope Francis’ encyclical address
(2015), reassessing Christianity’s vision of humanity’s relation
with Earth (Buck, 2016; Marshall, 2009). Relational values
also enter into conservation dialogues (Chan et al., 2016;
Mace, 2014). More holistic approaches to sustainable
use of nature by humans inspired in part from indigenous
worldviews are stated in international agendas, e.g., living in
harmony with nature is a principle of the Rio 1992 “Summit
of the Earth” (Mebratu, 1998; UN, 1992) and Rio 2012
Conference on Sustainable Development (UN, 2012) and
the vision of the Convention on Biological Diversity up to
2050. An International Day of Mother Earth is recognized in
the Rio+20 “The future we want” document, linked to rights
of nature (UN, 2009, 2012). Recognition of Mother Earth
appears in recent climate change agreements (UNFCCC,
2015), in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2014)
and in the United Nations Environment Assembly of the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEA, 2014).
More generally, Indigenous groups are actively trying to
protect their rights while strengthening the recognition of
the legitimacy of their relational worldviews and related
governance practices in the face of economic, political,
social and environmental pressures (Baer, 2014; Blaser et
al., 2004). For instance, viewing nature as part of social
life, not property to exploit, is suggested by the inclusion
of intrinsic rights of the natural world in the constitutions of
Bolivia and Ecuador (Lalander, 2015). Yet placing the rights
of nature on par with those of Indigenous communities
may support or undermine indigenous control and raise
questions about how rights are linked with responsibilities.
In Bolivia, for instance, rights of nature have been given
equal standing to the rights of ethnic groups, while in New
Zealand, some native (Māori) communities have successfully
fought to gain political and legal power over land-use
planning (Menzies & Ruru, 2011) in ways that lead to new
laws that recognize the spiritual connection of an Iwi (tribe)
to their ancestral place and the legal personality of national
parks and rivers (Salmond, 2014).
Views of what constitutes a good quality of life are
also changing. A vision welfare based upon economic
development and material well-being prevailed in
academic literature until the 1980s (Agarwala et al., 2014),
yet concepts of well-being have integrated additional
dimensions and focused more on experiences of people
(Gasper, 2004; King et al., 2014; McGregor et al., 2015)
and include their capacities and connections with nature
(Sterling et al., 2017), together with education and health,
knowledge and skills, happiness and satisfaction. Equity,
justice, security and resilience lenses are also increasingly
being integrated in definitions of well-being, alongside
the recognition of different types of knowledge about life
and cultural identities (Sterling et al., 2017). Evolutions of
values can have important consequences for nature and
its contributions, modifying not only material consumption
patterns and but also governance.
DEMOGRAPHIC Population dynamics
The world’s population has doubled over the last 50 years
(Figure 2.1.4; Figure S1), and is still growing, although the
growth rate has peaked (Roser et al., 2017). There are over
7 billion humans today (PRB, 2014). Important reductions in
growth rates have been observed in developed countries,
while the fastest increases are in the least developed
countries (Figure 2.1.4), and in Asia and the Pacific (Figure
S3). These differences in growth rates are consistent
with a ‘demographic transition’: population growth rates
increase as child mortality decreases, leading to increased
life expectancy; then fertility and growth decrease, leading
to falling population growth rates, as has already been
observed within some regions (Fogel, 1986; Hirschman,
1994; Thompson, 2003). The demographic transition
occurred over centuries in Europe but more quickly in some
developing countries over the last few decades in a context
of poverty and overexploited natural resources.
Demographic patterns have been linked with urbanization
and with improvements in women’s education, rights,
and health that tend to reduce child mortality and to
improve family planning (Caldwell, 2006; Galor, 2012).
Developed countries have lower growth rates than
developing countries. While convergence is expected,
large differences may still remain for at least one century as
some countries, mainly in Africa, may maintain high growth
rates if current slow decreases in fertility continue (Clarke
& Low, 2001; UN, 2004). Further, different ‘demographic
transitions’ have been suggested, relating to shifts in
partnership formation (cohabiting instead of marriage),
values associated with childbearing decisions (ethics,
politics, sex relations, education), and the postponement of
parenthood. Their environmental impacts bear exploration
(Lesthaeghe, 2014).
The world’s population is aging, with consequences for
resource consumption and management. The number
of seniors – 60 years and above – is growing fast, while
those above 80 are increasing even faster (McNicoll,
2002). Seniors are growing faster in urban than rural areas
(McNicoll, 2002). Aging in rural areas has implications for
the composition of rural labor forces and thus agricultural
production patterns, land tenure, social organization in rural
communities, and rural socioeconomic development. Such
shifts over several decades in developed countries are now
taking place in developing and least developed countries,
challenging generational replacement that has been central
for governance, environmental protection and sustainable
use in rural areas. Shifts also highlight poor environmental
quality, plus limited access to employment and services
– especially for young people – within the rapidly growing
urban areas of the developing world. Migration
The amount of people who migrate to a new country has
more than tripled in the last five decades (Figure 2.1.4),
with about 240 million people living today within a country
where they were not born. The number of international
immigrants currently is largest for developed countries
(Figure 2.1.4), as well as for Europe and Central Asia
(Figure S3). The number is increasing fastest, however,
within developing countries (Figure 2.1.4), and also in
Europe and Central Asia (Figure S3), where the number of
migrants has increased fourfold between 1980 to 2010, in
both regions.
International and within-nation migration has multiple
drivers (Arango, 2017). Large contrasts in political stability,
satisfied basic needs, and larger incomes are among some
of these key drivers, particularly within the Middle East,
South America and Asia. Migration may also be triggered
by environmental conditions, with estimates of several
million ‘environmental migrants’ today and with orders of
magnitude increases in that group expected in the future
(Laczko & Aghazarm, 2009).
Scarcities of resources (Hunter, 2005; Hunter et al., 2005)
and unfavourable conditions (Hunter, 2005) can shift
populations (Lee, 1966; Todaro, 1969). Such degradation
can interact with extreme events, such as those which
caused the severe dust storms that occurred in American
and Canadian prairies during the 1930s (Cook et al.,
2009), leading to the suggestion that migration could be
one adaptive strategy for households facing environmental
pressure. Rising temperatures have increased internal
migration strategies in Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa
(Mastrorillo et al., 2016; Thiede et al., 2016). Periods of low
rainfall drove both internal and international migration in
rural Mexico, particularly from municipalities with rain-fed
agriculture (Leyk et al., 2017). Crop failures driven by low
rainfall also have fueled migration in Bangladesh (Gray &
Mueller, 2012b).
Complex social-ecological interactions also underpin
migration across different contexts (Black et al., 2011).
Villages and families with more resources (e.g., higher
agricultural production) are more likely to engage in costly
long-distance migration, as observed in rural Ecuador (Gray,
2009a, 2010), and northeastern South Africa (Hunter et al.,
2014). The role of gender is context-dependent (Gray &
Mueller, 2012b), with: women’s marriage-related migration
falling by half during a recent drought in Ethiopia (Gray &
Mueller, 2012a); while rural-urban migration increased due
to deforestation in Ghana’s central region particularly for
young men more likely to find urban employment (Carr,
2005). Household characteristics are also important. In
the Brazilian Amazon and in Southern Mexico, circular
or iterative rural-urban migration is more likely for young
adults, whose remittances often help to expand agricultural
production (VanWey et al., 2007). Community characteristics
also matter, in particular social networks. In the context
of Mexico-US migration, for instance, the impacts of
environmental and resource risks, such as droughts, on
migration are different for communities with expanded social
networks due to migration histories (Hunter et al., 2013).
While migration can be a strategy to reduce risks, much
environmental migration is involuntary (Hunter et al., 2015).
Acute events, such as disasters (Fussell et al., 2014; Lu
et al., 2016) and chronic events, such as regular droughts
(Bates, 2002; Hugo, 1996; Renaud et al., 2007), lead to
involuntary migration. For instance, the disappearance of
Lake Chad over the last few decades has been a crisis
unfolding over the long term that has both internally
displaced people (IPCC, 2007) and generated migrations
to other countries (Fah, 2007). In Egypt, water pollution
and desertification, with other resource scarcity, has driven
migration (UN, 2016b).
The degree to which migration aids household adaptation
depends upon specific vulnerabilities, such as the sensitivity
of one’s livelihood to climate (Warner & Afifi, 2014). Poorest
households may be trapped by environmental change,
lacking capital and increasingly unable to support even
the sending of a migrant to provide remittances (Black et
al., 2011). For Bangladesh in 1994–2010, for instance,
the poorest households were unable to use migration in
response to flooding (Gray & Mueller, 2012b). The poorer
also suffer higher exposures to environmental hazards
(including climate-related), with fewer alternatives for
settling in safer places. Thus, they endure more severe
and long-lasting consequences (Blaikie et al., 1994; Gray,
2009b; Gray & Mueller, 2012a; Gutmann & Field, 2010;
IPCC, 2007).
Migration can have positive or negative environmental
implications for receiving or for sending areas (Adamo &
Curran, 2012; Curran, 2002; Fussell et al., 2014; Unruh
et al., 2004). In areas sending migrants, depopulation
may improve environmental outcomes such as regrowth
of forests on abandoned land (Aide & Grau, 2004).
Remittances back to sending areas may have positive
environmental effects, if they reduce resource dependence
by substituting bought goods for local production. However,
this often can increase food vulnerability for those who
remained. Alternatively, funds could have deleterious
environmental effects, if used to expand investments in
environmentally damaging practices, such as transformation
of agricultural lands into urban and peri-urban parcels
for real estate development (de Sherbinin et al., 2008;
Meyerson et al., 2007). Migration may also hinder local
generational replacement, weakening local environmental
governance and resource management initiatives,
particularly within the contexts in which global climate
change poses strong local pressures upon natural resources
(e.g., greater exposure of forests to pests and wildfires) that
require local protection capacities (Merino, 2012).
In areas receiving migrants, mixed effects on nature are
observed. For instance, migration to destinations with
high-value amenities can raise resource and environmental
degradation. In frontier mining, agriculture and ranching
settlements, populations rise in ecologically sensitive
areas (Joppa et al., 2009; Wittemyer et al., 2008), e.g.,
relocation of farm workers to cassava fields in Thailand
(Curran & Cooke, 2008) or settlements of displaced
individuals in northern Darfur, Sudan that are associated
with lower vegetation due to the expansion of small
farming (Hagenlocher et al., 2012). Migration may also shift
behaviour in receiving areas if individuals adopt attitudes
from migrants. Recent immigrants to the U.S. exhibited
greater concern for environmental issues than longer-term
immigrants or native-born citizens (Hunter, 2000). Yet it has
also been found that immigrants’ perspectives about the
environment can be at odds with resource management
practices in receiving areas, as migrants are not very familiar
with local realities and practices (Merino, 2012; Robson &
Berkes, 2011). Urbanization
Urbanization has been a significant trend in human
settlement and development (Figure 2.1.4, Figure S1,
Figure S3), driven by many factors and with significant
environmental impacts. Globally, urban population rose from
~200 million in 1900 to ~4 billion in 2014 (UN, 2014), at
which point over half of the world’s population was urban.
That share is expected to reach two thirds by 2050, as
another 2.5 billion are expected to join urban areas, most
in developing countries (CBD, 2012; Elmqvist et al., 2004;
UN, 2014). While the percentage of urban population is the
highest in developed countries (~75%), it is growing the
fastest in least developed and developing countries that
rose 2.3 and 1.4 times respectively, respectively, between
1970 and 2017 (Figure 2.1.4). Europe and Central Asia,
and America have highest shares of urban population
(~ 65% in each) but shares are growing the fastest within
Africa (~40% between 1980 and 2010) and within Asia and
the Pacific (~25%) (Figure S3).
Megacities with populations over 10 million people continue
to arise and are projected to reach 41 by 2030. Small to
medium-sized cities are growing the fastest and will be the
home for the vast majority of future urban populations (UN,
2014). On the other hand, there are 300–400 shrinking
cities in the world, about two-thirds in developed countries,
in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and
Germany (Kabisch & Haase, 2011; UN, 2014). Comparing
IPBES regions, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific are
urbanizing fastest, with future expansions in Asia and the
Pacific expected to occur mostly in China and India (CBD,
2012; Seto et al., 2011; Sui & Zeng, 2001). By 2050, up
to 3 billion people will be living in slum areas within cities,
mostly in developing countries (Nagendra, 2018).
Currently, urban areas cover under 3% of lands (Grimm et
al., 2008; McGranahan et al., 2005; Potere & Schneider,
2007). Their extent is, however, expected to triple by 2030
(Seto et al., 2012), rising faster than urban population. Much
of the growth in urban extents has been observed in coastal
regions, with 11% of all urban land in low-elevation coastal
zones (i.e., less than 10m above sea level), where people and
property are particularly vulnerable to floods and sea-level rise
(Güneralp et al., 2015; McGranahan et al., 2007). In China,
over 44% of urban land use is within floodplains, contributing
to increasingly severe flood hazards (Du et al., 2018). Rapid
urban expansion is driven by positive feedbacks between
urbanization and economic growth (Bai et al., 2012), which
generate further socioeconomic disparities between the
coastal and inland regions (Bai et al., 2012).
Urbanization is influenced by both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors
(Hare, 1999), with job opportunities and services ‘pulling’
migrants while rural poverty, labor surplus, changing values
(induced at times by the media and education), and civil
conflicts acting ‘pushing’ people out of rural areas. ‘Push’
factors are often stronger, leading to many rural-urban
migrants with poor employment and public services,
including environmental. Poor neighborhoods in megacities
of developing countries typically have poor environmental
quality, with precarious access to safe drinking water
and sanitation (Nagendra et al 2018). Yet the drivers of
urbanization are quite variable (Bloom et al., 2008; Fay &
Opal, 2000), with important roles of national policies (Bai
et al., 2014). For instance, developed countries typically
have higher levels of urbanization, with a strong correlation
to productivity and income (Cohen & Simet, 2018). This
forms a basis for some countries to promote urbanization as
part of a strategy for economic growth, but there are large
regional disparities, as well as quite mixed results (Bai et al.,
2012; Bloom et al., 2008). Human Capital
Human capital − including education, knowledge, health,
capabilities and skills − is a significant component of
development, one judged by many to be the largest share
of the total wealth of all nations (World Bank, 2018o).
That share varies by income level: within the low income
countries, ‘produced and natural capital’ are the largest
share; while in the high income countries, human capital
dominates (World Bank, 2018o). Within that human capital,
the levels and types of education influence economic
development, including the scale of output, sectoral
mix, and techniques used. Yet the relation between
education, economic performance, environmental attitudes
and sustainability is multifactorial − with factors such
as economic and development policies, consumption
patterns, and integration within the global economy playing
major roles.
Human capital can be strongly affected, for instance, by
the roles of women within a labor force. This societal factor
can have a strong influence not only on the use of natural
capital but also on other forms of human capital (World
Bank, 2018o), beyond yielding more total human capital.
Between 1995 and 2014, the estimated female share of
human capital, globally, rose to ~40% − albeit with regional
variations (from 18 to 44%; Credit Suisse, 2018). Less Agricultural Extension
Meeting the world’s increasing demand for food while still
reducing agriculture’s environmental impacts is one of the
defining challenges of our times. Agricultural extension
services constitute an important approach, as they
may foster more productive uses of our limited natural
resources, as in precision agriculture (Bongiovanni &
Lowenberg-DeBoer, 2004). On the other hand, they can
catalyse degrading shifts in production systems that lead to
many losses of diverse traditional farming systems (IPBES,
2018b), or widespread harmful removal of tree cover
(IPBES, 2018a).
During the 1960s and up to mid-1970s, rural support via
agricultural extension was quite strong, particularly as
associated with the Green Revolution. During the 1970s,
extension was included explicitly within approaches to
integrated rural development. However, public-sector
extension became more limited after the 1980s, with its
emphasis upon participatory approaches alongside drastic
decreases in governmental expenditure on agricultural
credits. In Latin America, between 1991 and 2007 such
extension expenditures were reduced to below 10%
(Figure S8). In addition, private support for such agricultural
extension also started to decline around the 1980s, leading
to underfinancing, staffing shortages, and the contraction of
extension services (FAO, 2017b). Indigenous and Local Knowledge
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs)
constitute a significant fraction of the world’s population
and occupy a large fraction of the land area of the planet.
Between 1 and 1.5 billion people are considered as
members of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
(see chapter 1), whiles estimates about smallholders range
from 2 to 2.5 billion people (Zimmerer et al., 2015). IPLCs
manage or have tenure rights within ~38 million km2, in
87 countries (or politically distinct areas), on all inhabited
continents, covering over 25% of the land surface (Garnett
et al., 2018; Oxfam et al., 2016). Their territories intersect
with key areas for biodiversity conservation, including ~40%
of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact
landscapes (Bhagwat & Rutte, 2006; Foltz et al., 2003;
Sobrevila, 2008). Traditional occupations are a key source
of livelihoods and income for many IPLCs, thus recognizing
their rights to land, benefit sharing, and the corresponding
local institutions are crucial for supporting local to global
biodiversity conservation goals (Garnett et al., 2018).
Today, indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) is increasingly
seen as relevant for sustainable resource use, not only
for IPLCs but also more broadly. This reflects a shift from
centralized, technically oriented solutions, which have
not substantially improved the livelihood prospects for
many small farmers (even if helping others). While there
do exist multiple differences between indigenous and
modern/contemporary knowledge, they still have some
substantial overlaps, and ways to leverage the two sources
of knowledge − e.g., for optimizing agricultural systems
around agroforestry, multiple tree-cropping systems, and
soil management targeted at smallholders − are being
increasingly sought and further developed (Barrios & Trejo,
2003; Cash et al., 2003).
Yet, the traditional practices stemming from ILK clearly are
also declining at the very same time, and across multiple
communities (Forest Peoples Programme, 2016; chapters
2.3 and 3). For instance, changes in both values and
knowledge can be driven by contemporary education, in
which prestige and progress might be associated to the
replacement of traditional knowledge, which plays a key role
in either the maintenance or the erosion of local worldviews
and knowledge (Godoy et al., 2009; Reyes-García et al.,
2007). More generally, schooling can loosen people’s direct
personal interactions with nature and lower traditional
knowledge, while also potentially hindering the traditional
transmission of knowledge based on direct learning from
practice guided by local adults and elders. This occurs by
creating cross-generational language barriers and changing
cultural values (Godoy et al., 2009; Pearce et al., 2011;
Reyes-García et al., 2014, 2007). For instance, formal
education can remove children from the everyday lives of
families during the periods crucial for learning traditional
knowledge (Ohmagari & Berkes, 1997; Ruiz-Mallén et
al., 2013), effective transmission of which relies upon
observation, participation, and imitation in families and wider
local communities. As formal education focuses on abstract
and general knowledge, often alien to everyday life and local
contexts, it may serve to overwrite elements of traditional
knowledge. Thus, different ways of learning (i.e., traditional/
local vs. formal) may result in multiple cultural identities
(Pearce et al., 2011). Yet, nonetheless, there are cases in
which traditional knowledge and formal education have
been successfully integrated, e.g., using local language and
culture in implementing education and by also motivating
traditional knowledge transmission (Barnnhardt & Kawagley,
2005; McCarter & Gavin, 2011; Michie, 2002; Ruiz-Mallén
et al., 2013). Environmental Education
The patterns and relationships within human behaviours
which are related to actions that affect nature started
to be more closely assessed in the 1970s and 1980s
(Hungerford & Volk, 1990). Results from systematic meta-
analyses confirm that while environmental awareness is
important, knowledge alone is not enough to motivate pro-
environmental action (Bamberg & Möser, 2007; Klöckner,
2013). Also, pro-conservation and environmental attitudes
tend to be insufficient for inspiring significant behaviours
(Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980; Monroe, 2003; Schwartz, 1977;
Stern, 2000). Instead, meaningful childhood experiences
regarding nature, in particular in the context of family
members who model care for nature, have been linked
to adult conservation behaviours (Children and Nature
Network, 2018; Clayton et al., 2012; Tanner, 1980).
While a childhood’s time in nature is clearly instrumental in
developing a lifelong commitment to care for the Earth, a
positive and meaningful connection to nature can also be
facilitated and enhanced throughout our lives, though, and
may start at any time. Nature-based activities have been
shown to have instrumental influences on adult behaviour
(Chawla, 1998; Wells & Lekies, 2006). Opportunities to
cultivate that sense of connection can emerge within rural
as well as in urban environments − not only promoting
environment-supporting behaviours but also leading to
increased health and well-being (Richardson et al., 2016).
Several studies have demonstrated a positive relationship
between the level of involvement in nature-based activities
as diverse as fishing (Oh & Ditton, 2006, 2008), SCUBA
diving (Thapa et al., 2006) and bird watching (Cheung et
al., 2017; Hvenegaard, 2002; McFarlane & Boxall, 1996),
and individuals’ concerns for the resources upon which
their activities depend. People also grow attached to the
specific places where they interact with nature, where they
are more likely to engage in conservation actions (Halpenny,
2010; Ramkissoon et al., 2013; Stedman, 2002; Tonge
et al., 2014; Vaske & Kobrin, 2001). For those already
positive toward the environment, regular time in nature
may play an affirming role by keeping nature “top of mind”
and increasing the likelihood of taking action to benefit the
environment (Manfredo et al., 1992; Tarrant & Green, 1999;
Thapa, 2010), all highlighting the importance of regular or
even frequent experiences outdoors in nature (Kellert et
al., 2017).
TECHNOLOGICAL Traditional Technologies
(Indigenous and Local Knowledge)
Both archaeological and contemporary evidence suggest
that humans have used and continue to use a wide
variety of deliberate means to manage species within
habitats rich in biotic resources (Hoffmann et al., 2016).
Indigenous Peoples continue to interact with the planet’s
ecosystems in many and varied ways: forest managers
in the tropical lowlands or in the mountains; pastoralists
in savannas and other grasslands; and nomadic or
semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers in forests, prairies
and deserts (Toledo, 2013). Large groups of Indigenous
Peoples are also just small-scale producers, not always
easily distinguishable from the non-Indigenous Peoples
producing nearby. Within the Andean and Mesoamerican
countries of Latin America, the Indigenous Peoples
farm much like surrounding small-scale farmers (Bellon
et al., 2018), with technology and knowledge flowing
between the groups. Similarly, in India, distinctions
between scheduled tribes and non-tribal peoples cannot
be made solely upon the basis of productive activities.
In these and other many cases, non-indigenous and
indigenous producers plant crops using similar farming
methods (Toledo, 2013), while also broadly contributing
to dissemination of technologies and knowledge, such as
in cases of agroforestry and other tree-cropping systems
that are increasingly important within many regions
(Agrawal, 2014). Together, IPLCs and a wide range of
smallholder producers contribute a significant share of
our global food production.
ILK and related practices are increasingly seen as
relevant for sustainable use. This is part of a shift from
centralized, technically-oriented resource management
solutions that, in many cases, adapt poorly or are even
harmful to local quality of life and environment. Beyond
ecological knowledge and production technologies, there
is increasing appreciation for the importance of local
institutions that underlie the local access to, use of, and
management of natural resources.
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ practices
usually are based on a broad knowledge of the complex
ecological systems in their own localities (Gadgil et
al., 1993). A wide range of outcomes emerge from
these relationships, with cases illustrating sustainable
resource and others with heavy ecosystem impacts
via inappropriate management by local populations.
For example, water use within Indian communities has
proven to be highly efficient, for storage and distribution.
Communities located close to the mountains with
abundant precipitation have extensive knowledge about
canals, dams, pools in hard rocks, and systems known
as kul, naula, Khatri (Bansil, 2004). Indigenous Australians
have demonstrated detailed technical knowledge of fire
and have used it effectively to improve habitat for game
and assist with the hunt itself (Lewis, 1989). Indigenous
fire management has been documented across the world
for agricultural and pastoral use, hunting, gathering,
fishing, vegetation growth and abundance, clearing
vegetation, habitat protection, domestic use, medicine/
healing and spiritual use (Mistry et al., 2016; Sletto &
Rodriguez, 2013). In Brazil, the practice of Mayú, a
mutual cooperation in the elaboration of large-scale
tasks within traditional farming, e.g., cutting of trees and
burning the felled biomass, is one social institution which
has facilitated the formation and establishment of social
bonding as well as important intergenerational knowledge
transfer (Mistry et al., 2016).
In tropical countries, IPLC agroforestry systems
are based on ancestral practices with common
characteristics. These systems are highly diversified,
productive and complex. Producers manipulate species
but also vegetation and ecological processes (Toledo
& Barrera-Bassols, 2008). As within many regions of
the world, in these countries the rotation of harvesting
contributes to landscape heterogeneity − and while
such rotation in agriculture is well known, less well
known is rotation for grazing and hunting and fishing.
In semiarid regions such as the fringe of Sahel, for
instance, seasonal patterns of rainfall drive migration
by larger herbivores and by traditional herding peoples.
This can allow for the recovery of grazed lands − which
can be disrupted by settlement. Throughout arid and
semiarid Africa, traditional herders followed migratory
cycles, rotating grazing land seasonally and, in cases,
rotating adjacent grazing areas within a season (Gadgil et
al., 1993).
Yet, indigenous and local knowledge and practices are
being lost, even as they come to the fore. One indication
is reduced linguistic diversity. The Ethnologue (Lewis,
2009) identified 6,909 languages − of which half are at
risk of extinction. Linguistic diversity can be correlated
with biological diversity in regions including Taiwan and
the Philippines, the Amazon Basin and Papua New
Guinea and Eastern Indonesia, Northern and Central
Australia, Eastern Siberia, and Mesoamerica. Extinction
risks for these elements of linguistic diversity are high
in Australia, the Amazon and Eastern Siberia. In many
cases, these losses also correlate with the abandonment
or transformation of local production systems, with
implications for land cover change (involving reforestation
and/or deforestation), local food self-sufficiency, and the
loss of agrobiodiversity.
80 Technological changes in
primary sectors (with direct uses
of nature) Significant Transitions in
Agriculture has expanded significantly, in response to
increasing demands − a trend not likely to decline in the near
future, given the increases in livestock, human populations,
and incomes. Yet such expansions can be either extensive,
via increased area, or intensive, via increased yield (output
per unit area, often increased through increases in the
levels of inputs). At a global scale, intensification can imply
greater shares of agriculture in some regions yet reductions
elsewhere. Areas can fall while outputs hold steady, with
increases in yields, as in high income countries in Latin
America and the Caribbean (Figure S9). Illustrating regional
variation, agricultural yields and areas rose concurrently
in middle income countries, as well as in low- and middle
income sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, there was a rise
in both land area allocated to cereals and the cereals yield in
sub-Saharan Africa, while other areas focused on raising yield
without any significant increase in their farming areas. Most
of the agricultural producers in this region are smallholders
− including those farmers who practice slash-and-burn
agriculture, which in some areas has contributed significantly
to the losses of forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
Historically, the Green Revolution brought important
changes with both opportunities and risks. During the
1960s, 1970s and 1980s, yields of rice, maize and wheat all
increased steadily via the application of innovations in seed
development, irrigation and fertilizer use. With billions added
to the world population, since these practices began, many
believe that without gains in outputs, famine and malnutrition
would have been much greater. A nutrition expert who
led the FAO, Lord Boyd Orr, was awarded a Nobel Peace
Prize in 1949. The ‘father’ of the Green Revolution, Norman
Borlaug, was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, in 1970,
for ‘providing bread’. Borlaug promoted the aggressive
use of all advances in traditional methods − and then later
championed genetic engineering − to develop varieties with
greater yields, as well as resistance to diseases.
Yet, the Green Revolution highlights both the immense
potential and significant trade-offs from innovations
(Abramczyk et al., 2017). Chemicals uses caused
environment and health issues (Singh & Singh, 2000; WHO
& UNEP, 1989; WRI et al., 1992). Also, intensive fossil-
fuel agricultural practices have negatively affected the
water table in many regions. Food security fell for some,
as production shifted out of the subsistence approaches
which had been feeding many peasants in India. Also,
monocultures have yielded poorer diets than traditional
farming and agrobiodiversity. Looking globally, such
practices also can lower food security through greater
control of food systems by corporations upon whose inputs
small- and middle-scale producers become dependent
(Berlanga, 2017) and who may promote diets yielding poorer
nutrition. Some practices may be subsidized by national
governments, in the favour of large firms (FAO, 2009a).
Also, despite food availability, famine has continued to come
about, given societal failures (D