Skip to main content

Integrating Human Development and Poverty Alleviation with Conservation


In the Coral Triangle, coastal ecosystems are critically important, providing food and resources to more than 350 million people – 130 million of those are vulnerable coastal communities directly dependent on coastal and marine resources for their food and livelihoods. These ecosystems provide many services including fisheries productivity, building materials, maintenance of coastal water quality, coastal protection against storm surges, cultural and spiritual benefits, and tourism opportunities. These functions can’t be replaced if these ecosystems are lost.

Key Messages

  • Many poor households in coastal communities rely on healthy ecosystems for survival and to defend against climate change, but poverty, food insecurity and vulnerability to social, environmental and economic shocks mean they’re often driven to exploit these ecosystems unsustainably
  • Protected or locally-managed areas can be used to create new income streams for local communities, compensating for restricted access to marine resources
  • Understanding how social, cultural and economic factors interact with conservation goals is key to using development approaches to advance conservation goals
  • Broad-based development plans encompassing a ‘population-health-environment’ approach are more likely to succeed than narrow initiatives
  • Listening to the community to understand their needs and engaging them through participatory development approaches from conception to delivery and ongoing management is essential
  • Approaches must be inclusive, with particular attention paid to addressing obstacles to the participation of women and other marginalised groups in any program.