Executive Summary

World Resources Report 2008 continues the focus of the World Resources report series on poverty and the environment.

The reality of global poverty is that it is rural and it is persistent: three-quarters of the 2.6 billion people living on less than $2 per day — almost 2 billion — live in rural areas; that number is virtually unchanged in 20 years.

World Resources 2008 argues that successfully scaling up environmental income for the poor requires three elements:

  • Ownership--a foundation of good governance that both transfers to the poor real authority over local resources and elicits local demand for better management of these resources.
  • Capacity--making good on this demand requires building local capacity for development-in this case, the capacity of local communities to manage ecosystems competently, carry out ecosystem-based enterprises, and distribute the income from these enterprises fairly.
  • Networks--the third element is establishing adaptive networks that connect and nurture nature-based enterprises, giving them the ability to adapt, learn, connect to markets, and mature into businesses that can sustain themselves and enter the economic mainstream.

The result is communities with increased resilience: economic, social and environmental.

Such outcomes take on added import as it becomes increasingly clear that the impacts of climate change are likely to have their biggest effect on those areas where most of the world’s poor live: drylands, low-latitude geographies and high-stress watersheds.