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The balance of resources on land and water is unevenly distributed between the privileged and underprivileged.


A soybean field in Heilongjiang, China. Balancing feeding people with preserving biodiversity and natural resources is at the heart of sustainable development. Credit: Nan Jia, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability.

A Michigan State University study shows that in the race to make the world more livable for people and nature, progress on land has outpaced successes on the seas, raising red flags that the advantages of wealthier nations may tip the balance.

Indeed, progress on the oceans slowed down after United Nations member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. This action aims to facilitate global partnerships between developed and developing countries in sustainable development.

Yet, though, a new study in the journal Open Access iScience It reveals evidence that high-income countries were outperforming low-income countries, causing more global inequality.

“Maintaining a sustainability score is important,” said senior author Jianguo “Jack” Liu, MSU Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability. “Making progress to sustain and improve life on Earth is a delicate balance in the world of telecommuting.”

In the Decade Global Assessment of Life Underwater and on Land, researchers found that conservation efforts and the sustainable use of natural resources had positive outcomes on land, particularly in countries with biodiversity hotspots, such as Ethiopia, Madagascar and Indonesia.

“But surprisingly, the progress of ocean sustainability slowed after 2015,” said Yuqian Zhang, lead author and Ph.D. Student at MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). “A closer look shows that low-income countries lag behind, and that the gap between high-income and low-income countries has widened over time. Preventing and reducing marine pollution and sharing the economic benefits that come from sustainable use of marine resources with SIDS countries has hardly improved.”

Overall, improvements to life on land and under water have made progress, Zhang said. From 2010 to 2020, global biodiversity conservation and sustainable development made positive progress both on land and at sea. The sustainable use of natural resources and the benefits accruing from them and halting resource degradation and loss of biodiversity led to a doubling of the SDG estimate in that decade.

But it is the widening gap between countries’ haves and have-nots that is causing concern and requiring attention. Specifically, facilitating countries have had massive increases in their underwater life metrics, including Croatia, Gambia, and Lithuania, while countries like Pakistan, Fiji, and Tonga have seen their water metrics drop dramatically.

The study stresses the need for vigilance to understand global progress at the local and national levels and to understand why some countries succeed while others falter.

“We need to take a comprehensive look and discover the drivers of sustainability successes,” Zhang said. “This understanding can enable policymakers to design more informed institutions for global biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.”

more information:
Yuqian Zhang et al, Decade Global Assessment of Life Underwater and on Land, iScience (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106420

Provided by Michigan State University

the quote: Life on land and water oscillates between the haves and the have-nots (2023, May 1) Retrieved May 1, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-05-life-teeters-haves-have-nots.html

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