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Developing sustainable livelihoods

Jul 30, 2009

IUCN’s Systematic approaches to livelihoods enhancement and diversification: A review of global experiences advocates effective integration of resource-dependent livelihoods with environmental objectives. Calling for a multi-disciplinary approach, it says that cooperation among different agencies and active engagement of communities is critical in achieving sustainable development.

Systematic approaches to livelihoods enhancement and diversification: A review of global experiences

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), March 2008

IUCN report

The coastal inhabitants dependent on the world’s marine resources for their livelihoods are often made to bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility for the consequences of often external forces that have kept them in poverty, degraded their environment, introduced inappropriate technology, introduced market pressures, excluded them from policy making, changed access rights and invested, often inappropriately, in coastal development.

This Global Overview by Coral Reefs and Livelihoods Initiative (CORALI) brings together global experience and provide guidance on how Sustainable Livelihood Enhancement and Diversification (SLED) can be developed.

Amongst development agencies working in coastal communities, there is a growing recognition of the need to integrate livelihood change processes and resource management measures. They now appreciate that such integration must be more than simply appending social development to resource management initiatives.

Some of the highlighted examples in the brief:

India: Following the 1999 super cyclone in Orissa, support was provided to many individuals and groups to rebuild their lives. In one community inhabited by bamboo weavers the cyclone completely destroyed the bamboo crop. The individual producers were brought together into a cooperative, enabling them to purchase bamboo in large amounts, share transport costs and negotiate better purchasing prices.

Thailand: Under the One Village One Product movement which originally started in Japan, the Thai government has been promoting local industry through the manufacture of specialty products based on local culture, tradition and natural raw materials.

Afghanistan: DFID’s Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF) adopted the approach of working with communities to understand the social, economic, and political context for current agricultural livelihoods, and to assess attitudes towards opium production. It also worked with local institutions to build up capacity to understand, facilitate analysis and respond to livelihood change options. In addition a detailed market analysis was implemented.

The report says that decision-making must recognise the diversity of stakeholders and allow for their meaningful participation. Planning for the future should include the potential, needs and aspirations of different groups. It must recognise the complexity of people’s livelihoods, seeking to understand and incorporate their relationships with marine resources into management strategies.

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