Climate change is having a huge impact on ecosystems (forests, wetlands, glacial, marine, etc.) and natural resources. Human practices are leading to massive deforestation, forest degradation, biodiversity loss and widespread natural resource depletion, destroying the natural buffer that once protected us from climate extremes. Paradoxically, the destruction of carbon sinks, such as forests and wetlands, is driving emissions even higher. These two trends of climate change and environmental degradation are amplifying natural hazards, making the poorest even more vulnerable, and worsening inequalities.

In ecology, sustainability is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. CARE’s development programs, be they in wetlands, drylands, forests, marine or mountain ecosystems, or agricultural landscapes, consider environmental sustainability as a key, non-negotiable principle. Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary for the survival of humans and other organisms, and for the prosperity and safety of the world we live in. But human activity is having a significant and escalating impact on the biodiversity of our ecosystems, reducing both their resilience and bio-capacity and, in this regard, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 13 (combating climate change) and 15 (protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests and halting land degradation and biodiversity loss) are inextricably linked.

In its food and nutrition security work, particularly in agriculture, CARE’s approach to environmental sustainability implies the promotion of a set of farming practices. Many of these practices fall under the broader headings of “agro-forestry” and “conservation agriculture” and have been promoted successfully in many developing countries. Community managed natural regeneration is an example of a specific practice that has been used successfully to restore degraded land in challenging contexts, such as Niger and Ethiopia.