Natural resources need to be used sustainably
© Millennium Assessment
Natural resource management
6.1 Natural resources, especially those of soil,
water, plant and animal diversity, vegetation cover, renewable
energy sources, climate, and
ecosystem services are
fundamental for the structure and function of agricultural
systems and for social and environmental
support of life on earth. Historically the path of global
agricultural development has been narrowly focused on increased
productivity rather than on a more holistic integration of NRM
[Natural Resource Management] with food and nutritional
security. A holistic, or systems-oriented approach, is
preferable because it can address the difficult issues
associated with the complexity of food and other production
systems in different ecologies, locations and cultures.
AKST [Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology] to
resolve NRM exploitation issues, such as the mitigation of soil
fertility through synthetic inputs and natural processes, is
often available and well understood. Nevertheless, the
resolution of natural resource challenges will demand new and
creative approaches by stakeholders with diverse backgrounds,
skills and priorities. Capabilities for working together at
multiple scales and across different social and physical
environments are not well developed. For example, there have
been few opportunities for two-way learning between farmers and
researchers or policy makers. Consequently farmers and civil
society members have seldom been involved in shaping natural
resource management policy. Community-based partnerships with
the private sector, now in their early stages of development,
represent a new and promising way forward.
The following high priority NRM options for action are
- 6.2 Use existing AKST to identify and address
some of the underlying causes of declining productivity
embedded in natural resource mismanagement, and develop new
AKST based on multidisciplinary approaches for a better
understanding of the complexity in NRM. Part of this process
will involve the cost-effective monitoring of trends in the
utilization of natural resource capital.
- 6.3 Strengthen human resources in the support
of natural capital through increased investment (research,
training and education, partnerships, policy) in promoting
the awareness of the societal costs of degradation and value
of ecosystems services.
- 6.4 Promote research “centers of AKST-NRM
excellence” to facilitate less exploitative NRM and better
strategies for resource resilience, protection and renewal
through innovative two-way learning processes in research
and development, monitoring and policy formulation.
- 6.5 Create an enabling environment for
building NRM capacity and increasing understanding of NRM
among stakeholders and their organizations in order to shape
NRM policy in partnership with public and private sectors.
- 6.6 Develop networks of AKST practitioners
(farmer organizations, NGOs, government, private sector) to
facilitate long-term natural resource management to enhance
benefits from natural resources for the collective good.
- 6.7 Connect globalization and localization
pathways that link locally generated NRM knowledge and
innovations to public and private AKST.
6.8 When AKST is developed and used creatively with
active participation among various stakeholders across multiple
scales, the misuse of natural capital can be reversed and the
judicious use and renewal of water bodies, soils,
services, fossil fuels and
atmospheric quality ensured for future generations.