What would it take to solve Earth’s grand environmental and sustainability challenges? For our first-ever special issue, Momentum magazine invited more than two dozen experts from around the world to give us their take on how we might craft solutions to some of our planet’s biggest problems. Check out M. Sanjayan’s suggestions for stemming the loss of biodiversity, Peggy Liu’s perspectives on supplying global energy needs with renewables, Alex Steffen's vision for sustainable cities and lots more.
GEOFFREY D. DABELKO is director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. projects. To rigorously test this approach, more projects must be funded, implemented and analyzed, over longer periods of time and at bigger scales. To date, some promis- ing projects and research in diverse locations—Ethio- pia, Nepal, Madagascar, Rwanda, the Philippines and Uganda—suggest that the HELP approach offers greater benefits than traditional programs. In the Philippines, for example, the PATH Foundation Philippines’ Integrated Population and Coastal Resource Man- agement (IPOPCORM) program addresses pressing needs for both fam- ily planning services and sustainable environmental stewardship in densely populated coastal commu- nities, where local fisheries have been depleted because of increased demand for food. IPOPCORM helps create marine protected areas and promotes alternative economic livelihoods such as seaweed harvesting, thus allowing critical local fish stocks to recover. Concurrently, the initiative mitigates human-induced pressures on the environment and lowers the vulnerability of this underserved popula- tion by providing voluntary family planning services. Since its launch in 2001, the IPOPCORM program’s approach has yielded measurable benefits, simultaneously reducing program costs and improving health and environmental outcomes—and outperforming compartmentalized, side-by-side sector interventions. How can we bring HELP to biodiversity-rich communities? First, we can encourage scholars, practitioners and policy-makers to step outside their stovepipes by producing and distributing manuals, for example, based on lessons learned from existing cross-disciplinary projects. Second, we must bridge the gap between analysis and field- based programs by developing new metrics that better assess the impact of integrated programs. Third, we must open up bureaucratic funding structures by demonstrating not only the short-term savings but also the synergies that bolster long-term sustainability. The challenges are significant, but I see promising new opportuni- ties for overcoming them. For example, the new Pathfinder Interna- tional–led projects around Lake Victoria in Uganda and Kenya mark the entry of a respected health organization into the environmental arena and the return of a leading private funder—the MacArthur Foun- dation—to HELP programs. With some of Africa’s highest population densities, poverty, ethnic diversity and biodiversity, the Great Lakes region is one of the most volatile intersections of human development and environmental change. Through these and other community-based, integrated projects, we can truly help people and the planet at the same time. WINTER 2012 35 8 10 96 4 2 3 1 5 7 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 TOP 25 BIODIVERSITY HOT SPOTS: Rich in biodiversity and under threat from human impacts 1) The Tropical Andes • 2) Mesoamerica • 3) The Caribbean Islands • 4) The Atlantic Forest • 5) Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena • 6) The Cerrado • 7) Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests • 8) The California Floristic Province • 9) Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands • 10) The Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa • 11) The Guinean Forests of West Africa • 12) The Cape Floristic Region • 13) The Succulent Karoo • 14) The Mediterranean Basin • 15) The Caucasus • 16) Sundaland • 17) Wallacea • 18) The Philippines • 19) Indo-Burma • 20) The Mountains of Southwest China • 21) Western Ghats and Sri Lanka • 22) Southwest Australia • 23) New Caledonia • 24) New Zealand • 25) Polynesia-Micronesia SOURCE: RUSSELL A. MITTERMEIER, NORMAN MYERS AND CRISTINA GOETTSCH MITTERMEIER, HOTSPOTS: EARTH'S BIOLOGICALLY RICHEST AND MOST ENDANGERED TERRESTRIAL ECOREGIONS, 2000