Natural resources play a fundamental role in fostering sustainable livelihoods around the world. From forests to fisheries to soils, ecosystems support a wealth of livelihood activities. These resources provide the basis for agriculture, livestock herding, and small business development, in addition to providing a source of fuel. In order to ensure the ability of impoverished and rural communities to provide for themselves and their families, sustainable management of these resources is critical. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has recognized the central role of sustainable environmental management to protecting and enhancing rural livelihoods, and the harmful impacts of environmental degradation on such livelihoods.
Through its sustainable livelihoods work, ELI assists countries and communities to develop laws and policies, strengthen national and local institutions, and build capacity to protect and manage the natural resources upon which so many people depend for their survival. The Institute’s activities in these areas include assistance in drafting legal frameworks governing forests in Uganda and Liberia; workshops to build the capacity of pastoral communities to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage land and natural resources in Kenya; training community advocates on community forest designation and management in Cameroon; partnering with the Kenyan Department of Fisheries and the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance to develop a legal and operational framework for the co-management of Lake Victoria’s fisheries; and similar efforts to promote co-management of fisheries in Lake Itaipu, between Brazil and Paraguay. ELI is building upon this livelihoods work in other geographical regions and ecosystems, focusing on such issues as adaptation to climate change, community-based natural resource management, and protected areas, among others.