Aerial view of clear cut portion of forest.

Direct Connection

There is a direct connection between international conservation, resource scarcity and U.S. economic and national security interests.

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The loss of forests, fresh water, fertile soils and pollinators — and the resulting competition for scarce resources — can lead to instability, conflict and even failed states.

The unprecedented drawdown of natural resources poses enormous challenges — not only for the United States, but for ​the world. As the world’s population grows from 7.3 billion today​ to over 9 billion by 2050, nature’s ability to​ provide for people will be further tested. Global demand for food, water, and energy is projected to grow by 35%, 40% and 50%, respectively, by 2030.

 [Resource] scarcities are likely to hit hardest on poorer states, leading in the worst case to internal or interstate conflict and spillover to regional destabilization.

U.S. National Intelligence Council

Our plan

Raise awareness

Through the Direct Connection initiative, Conservation International works to inspire government and private sector actions that contribute to the sustainable management of the world’s natural resources. The initiative’s education and communication efforts highlight examples of natural resource impacts and security risks resulting from illegal logging, wildlife trafficking, fresh water scarcity, soil degradation, illegal fishing and other threats to the world’s ecosystems.

Combat wildlife trafficking

Wildlife trafficking has become a US$ 10 billion illicit global enterprise. An estimated 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012 to feed the global black market for ivory. Money from poaching is directly linked to the funding of rebel organizations and terrorist networks such as the Janjaweed militia in Darfur and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Conservation International has joined forces with United for Wildlife, the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, the Elephant Protection Initiative, the Governments of the United States and Botswana and other key partners to help stop wildlife trafficking.


 Protecting nature’s assets is of strategic importance to our economy, our national security, our well-being.

Harrison Ford, Direct Connection film Conservation International Board Members Rob Walton, Wes Bush and Harrison Ford explain the direct connection between U.S. national security, economic security and international conservation. LEARN MORE: