Edward B. Barbier "Land degradation and the rural poor: economic and social impacts"

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UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference

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  • . As the figure indicates, for a sample of 92 low and middle income economies, the incidence of rural poverty rises with the share of the total population concentrated on marginal lands. Although the average poverty rate across all economies is 45.3%, the rate falls to 36.4% for those countries with less than 20% of their population in fragile environments. For those with more than 50% of their populations in marginal areas, however, the incidence of rural poverty rises to 50% or more.
  • Edward B. Barbier "Land degradation and the rural poor: economic and social impacts"

    1. 1. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013Edward B. BarbierDepartment of Economics & Finance, University of WyomingLAND DEGRADATION AND THE RURALPOOR: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL IMPACTS 1
    2. 2. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013GLOBAL LAND DEGRADATION de Jong et al. 2011. “Quantitative mapping of global land degradation using Earth observations.” International Journal of Remote Sensing 32:6823-6853. 2
    3. 3. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013LAND DEGRADATION BY REGION Source: UNEP 3
    4. 4. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013FRAGILE LANDS AND POOR ECONOMIES Since 1950, the estimated population in developing economies on “fragile lands” prone to land degradation has doubled. Upland areas, forest systems and drylands that suffer from low agricultural productivity, and areas that present significant constraints for intensive agriculture. Nearly 1.3 billion people – ca. one quarter of the world’s population – live in such areas in developing regions. 4
    5. 5. UNCCD 2nd Scientific ConferenceWorld Bank. 2003. World Development Report 2003. Washington DC: World Bank. 10 April 2013 FRAGILE LAND POPULATIONS Population in fragile lands Region Population in Number Share of total 2000 (millions) (%) (millions) Latin America and the Caribbean 515.3 68 13.1 Middle East and North Africa 293.0 110 37.6 Sub-Saharan Africa 658.4 258 39.3 South Asia 1,354.5 330 24.4 East Asia and Pacific 1,856.5 469 25.3 Eastern Europe and Central Asia 474.7 58 12.1 OECD Group 850.4 94 11.1 Other 27.3 2 6.9 Total 6,030.1 1,389 23.0 Total Developing Economiesb 5,179.7 1,295 25.0 Total Latin America, Africa and 4,677.7 1,235 26.4 Asian Developing Economiesc Source: World Bank. 2003. World Development Report 2003. Washington DC: World Bank. 5
    6. 6. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013POOR PEOPLE AND LAND DEGRADATION The rural poor in developing countries are predominantly found in areas with the greatest potential for land and water degradation; i.e., land with highly weathered soils, steep slopes, inadequate or excess rainfall, and high temperatures. About 630 million of the rural poor live on these unfavorable lands in the developing world, whereas just under 320 million of the poor have access to favored lands. 6
    7. 7. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013RURAL POOR IN DEVELOPING REGIONS Rural poor on less favored lands Region Rural poor on Number Share of favored lands (millions) total (millions) (percent) Central and South 24 47 66 America West Asia and North 11 35 76 Africa Sub-Saharan Africa 65 175 73 Asia 219 374 63 Total 319 631 66 Source: Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. 2007. Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. London: Earthscan and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 7
    8. 8. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013RURAL POOR AND POPULATION ON FRAGILE LANDS 60% 51.4% 49.6% 50% 47.0% % of Rural Population in Poverty 44.6% 40% 36.4% 30% 20% 10% 0% <20 20-30 30-50 50-70 >70 Fragile Land Population Share (%)Developing economies are all low and middle income economies with 2009 per capita income of $12,195 or less, following World Bank (2012).Percentage of rural population in poverty is from World Bank (2012).Percentage of population on fragile land is from World Bank (2003).Number of observations = 92 countries, of which 13 (<20% of population on fragile land), 32 (20-30%), 33 (30-50%), 9 (50-70%) and 5 (> 70%).The average rural poverty rate across all countries is 45.3%, and the median is 46.6%. 8
    9. 9. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013FRAGILE LAND POPULATION AND GDP PER CAPITA $4,500 $3,961 $4,000 $3,500 GDP per capita ($2000) $3,000 $2,500 $2,083 $2,000 $1,570 $1,500 $1,000 $817 $822 $500 $0 <20 20-30 30-50 50-70 >70 Fragile Land Population Share (%)Developing economies are all low and middle income economies with 2009 per capita income of $12,195 or less, following World Bank (2012).GDP per capita ($ 2000), latest year, is from World Bank (2012).Percentage of population on fragile land is from World Bank (2003).Number of observations = 104 countries, of which 15 (<20% of population on fragile land), 31 (20-30%), 42 (30-50%), 11 (50-70%) and 5 (> 70%).The average GDP per capita ($ 2000) across all countries is $1,952 and the median is $1,144. 9
    10. 10. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013WORSENING PROBLEM? Around three-quarters of the developing world’s poor still live in rural areas, and twice as many poor people live in rural than in urban areas. By 2025, the rural population of the developing world will have increased to almost 3.2 billion, placing increasing pressure on a declining resource base. More marginal lands (forest and wetlands) will be converted to croplands. 10
    11. 11. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013THE “ASSETLESS” RURAL POOR Poorest rural households have very few productive assets, except land and unskilled labor. Almost all households engage in some form of agriculture, but the size of landholdings tends to be very small. Poor rural households tend to rely on selling their only other asset, unskilled labor. Permanent migration for work is rare for most poor rural households. Given the lack of ownership of assets by the rural poor, and their tendency to stay where they are located, the livelihoods of the "assetless" poor are often dependent on their 2007. The economic lives of the poor. Journal of Banerjee, A.V. and E. Duflo. surrounding natural environments. Economic Perspectives 21(1):141-168. 11
    12. 12. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013HOW THE “ASSETLESS” POOR SURVIVE The range of choices and tradeoffs available to the poor is affected by:  their access to key markets (e.g., for land, labor, credit as well as goods and services)  the quality and state of the surrounding environment on which their livelihoods depend. In the absence of well-functioning local labor, capital, land and credit markets, the rural poor depend critically on the use of common-property and open access resources for their income and nutritional needs. It may be the “assetless” poor who end up most dependent on exploiting the surrounding environment and its ecological services for survival. Barbier, E.B. 2010. "Poverty, development, and environment." Environment and Development Economics 15:635-660. 12
    13. 13. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013POVERTY-ENVIRONMENT TRAP Agriculture on marginal lands is prone to land degradation, and many resource commons are subject to overexploitation or threatened by development activities. Labor productivity of poor households in resource activities and agriculture will fall. More labor will be allocated to outside employment. But if there are many workers looking for paid work, the wage for hired labor will decline. Many households will switch back to resource activities and agriculture, but only enough to cover subsistence needs. Underemployed labor and resource degradationBarbier, E.B. 2010. "Poverty, development, and environment." Environment and Development Economics 15:635-660. deepens the poverty-environment trap. 13
    14. 14. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013VICIOUS CYCLE Land Degradatio n More Land Declining and Natural Agricultural Resource Productivity Use Search for Falling Outside Wages Work 14
    15. 15. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013 TOWARDS A NEW POLICY STRATEGY Involve the poor in payment for ecosystem services and other measures that enhance the environment. Target investments directly to the rural poor, thus reducing their dependence on exploiting environmental resources. Improve access of the poor in less favored areas to markets for credit, insurance and land. Reduce the high transportation and transaction costs that prohibit the poorest households in remote areas to engage in off-farm employment. Provide effective institutions and governance in support of poor communities use of common pool resources. 15
    16. 16. UNCCD 2nd Scientific Conference 10 April 2013FINAL REMARKS Land degradation in developing economies is also about rural poverty. Countries with high incidence of populations on fragile lands are poorer, have higher rural poverty and are more resource dependent. Land degradation is at the core of the poverty-environment trap of the assetless poor. A new policy strategy is urgently needed. 16

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