Around the world, families and communities struggling to make a living are often blamed and criminalized for their living practices and impact on the environment. In some instances, people in poverty are forced to rely on unsustainable practices such as logging, poaching, burning coal or trash, overusing limited natural materials etc. Instead of considering these practices as consequences of precarity, exploitation, displacement, imperialism and various other harmful socio-political dynamics that maintain people in poverty, marginalized communities are blamed while the root causes of these problems remain ignored. When not designed with the participation of local communities, conservation efforts can also harm and displace local communities, pushing them further into poverty and then criminalizing them for encroaching into conservation areas.
Centered mainly around SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 13 (climate action), this side event to the High-Level Political Forum 2021 will explore the challenges and solutions at the intersection of poverty eradication and environmental preservation programs. The event will bring together speakers with lived experience of poverty and policy-makers in the realm of environmental conservation, with the goal of showcasing first, that poor communities and environmental protection need not be seen and treated as if in competition with each other, and second, that environmental conservation should not be used against the human rights of people and communities living in poverty. Lastly, the conversation will highlight examples of communities living in poverty acting to protect their environment and promote climate resiliency.