In previous posts, I introduced a paper by Agrawal and Redford (see full citation below) that called for more rigorous definitions and analyses of poverty and biodiversity. Their paper also questioned our ability to ameliorate both concurrently. Here, I’ll continue to discuss what they say about how poverty is studied and what needs to be done to address it more appropriately. In future posts, I’ll move on to their analysis of how biodiversity is studied.
Agrawal and Redford note that policy literature on poverty has made the concept more complex. Specifically, new dimensions are now considered necessary to define and gain an understanding of poverty. Technical literature, on the other hand, focuses on almost purely material dimensions of poverty, such as caloric requirements and income. They note that while a focus on the material dimensions of poverty accurately represents its incidence (i.e. how many people are poor), it does not help represent other salient aspects, such as the intensity of poverty, the nature of the inequality between the poor and the rich, the volatility of poverty (i.e. how easy it is for the poor to escape poverty), and the spatial distribution of poverty. Groups of poor people that are scattered in an arid environment can be helped in ways that are very different from those live in clusters in urban environments.
In my next post on this topic, I will give a quick run-down of various ways biodiversity is conceptualized.
Agrawal, A. and Redford, K. H. (2006). Poverty, development, and biodiversity conservation: Shooting in the Dark? Wildlife Conservation Society Working Paper, 26, 1-48.