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FEATURE STORY

Earth Day 2017 – Five Facts for Your Environmental and Climate Literacy

April 22, 2017

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G_e_o_r_g_e/Shutterstock

By improving environmental and climate literacy, Earth Day 2017 aims to accelerate action toward good environmental policies, green technologies and jobs. In this spirit, here are five facts about the environment and what it means to poverty reduction and economic development to know:

1. A healthy environment is fundamental to poverty reduction. Environmental income accounts for about 28 percent of income worldwide, with particular importance for low-income households. Three-quarters of this income comes from natural forests, and one in eleven people are lifted out of extreme poverty thanks to forests. Without policies and action to address the climate challenge, an estimated 100 million more people will move into poverty by 2030.

2Getting it right on climate change is also an opportunity to create jobs, economic growth and other benefits. Last year the number of U.S. jobs in solar energy overtook those in fossil fuel extraction for the first time – solar jobs grew 12 times faster than overall job creation. In China, there are 35 percent more people working in clean energy than in oil and gas.

3. Air pollution costs money and lives. Air pollution is the fourth largest risk factor for premature deaths, causing one in ten deaths globally. Premature deaths caused by air pollution are tragic and come at a high price tag of an estimated $225 billion in foregone labor each year. 


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4. Giving oceans a break could generate US$83 billion in additional benefits for fisheries. The Sunken Billions Revisited report shows that reducing the global fishing effort would allow fish stocks to recover from overexploitation and boost the profitability of the fisheries sector from an estimated $3 billion a year to $86 billion.  In addition, a healthy ocean delivers climate benefits through “blue carbon” sinks such as mangroves and other vegetated ocean habitats that sequester 25 percent of the extra CO2 from fossil fuels.

5. Restoring deforested and degraded lands promises huge benefits for the economy and climate. Some two billion hectares of deforested and degraded lands could be restored to functional, productive landscapes with broad benefits including climate mitigation, improved agriculture production, clean water, wildlife habitat, and forest products. Africa provides the largest landscape restoration opportunity, followed by Latin America. According to WRI, restoring 20 million hectares (that’s just 1% of the potential) of degraded lands in Latin America and the Caribbean would yield $23 billion in net benefits over 50 years. 


Interested in knowing more? Here’s a bonus fact:

Wildlife is an asset to developing countries. In Kenya, for example, wildlife tourism comprises 12% of GDP, in Tanzania it is 10% of GDP. Investing in long term protection of wildlife and wild landscapes ensures present and future generations gain social, ecological and economic returns. However, Wildlife crime is accelerating, corrupting and killing the wildlife and the institutions that are trying to protect it”, Prof Lee White, Executive Secretary of Gabon’s National Parks Agency. 


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