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EditPhoto Title:Livelihoods
EditPhoto Description:People everywhere rely on nature — for their jobs, their income and their livelihoods.
EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_35597459.jpg
EditImage Description:Fisherman cast a net to catch fish
EditPhoto Credit:© Keith A. Ellenbogen
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Whether you work on a farm, in a factory or in an office, your livelihood depends on nature.

But nature’s ability to provide for us is being stretched to its limit. It’s more than an environmental problem.

It’s an economic problem, too.

Why are our livelihoods important?

Jobs and Prosperity

Nature is the foundation of every economy on Earth. In the developing world, forest resources often account for 20–40% of a family’s annual income, and forests are the source of livelihoods for more than 1.6 billion people worldwide. More than 60% of the world’s working poor are employed in the agricultural sector.

Resources to Build

Nature provides construction materials for the buildings where people live, work, play and worship — and for tens of millions of construction jobs worldwide. What’s more, forest products account for about 1% of the world’s gross domestic product, and the total global market for commercial wood products — including logs, lumber, panels, pulp and paper — is more than US$ 200 billion per year.

Food We Eat

Nature provides the food we eat, and getting this food to our tables is a major source of jobs around the world. One out of every three global workers is employed in an agricultural job, with millions more employed in fishing. Many local indigenous communities also harvest natural products, like coffee, honey, mushrooms, tagua nuts and açai berries, as their primary sources of income.


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EditSection TitleWhat are the issues?
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EditSection ID (Anchor Tag):issues[Optional]

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EditCircle color:fact--green    
EditCircle icon:icon-grain
EditResult value:50%
EditResult field:land used for agriculture
EditText:Unsustainable food and agriculture production
Almost 50% of the world’s land area is used for agriculture, yet by 2050 global demand for food will double. Converting vital forests and other landscapes to farms to meet this demand, rather than using the existing farmland more efficiently, threatens the natural resources that we all depend on for our livelihoods and incomes.


EditCircle color:fact--orange    
    EditCircle icon:icon-money
    EditResult value:> $10 billion
    EditResult field:market for illegal fishing
    EditText:Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
    More than 11 million tons of fish caught each year come from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. That’s a market value of more than US$ 10 billion annually. In addition to harming fish populations, such fishing creates unfair market competition for fishermen who follow sustainable practices.


    EditCircle color:fact--blue    
    EditCircle icon:icon-water
    EditResult value:
    EditResult field:of population may face water shortages
    EditText:Water scarcity
    By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. The agriculture industry alone uses nearly 70% of the fresh water available to humanity and accounts for one-third of the world’s jobs. Disruptions to the water supply could bring about disruptions to people’s livelihoods.
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    CI’s solutions

    At CI, we know that healthy ecosystems are an essential foundation for thriving economies. We’re providing innovative tools and knowledge to help governments, companies and communities make decisions that will benefit humanity now and for generations to come. From promoting forest-friendly activities like producing shade-grown coffee or participating in ecotourism to helping local communities adopt more sustainable fishing practices, CI is helping protect natural resources and boost income for local communities.

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    Carousel Images


    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_47283891.JPG
    EditImage Alt Text:People working in a tree nursery in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. © Thomas Muller
    EditCaption Title:Developing a Sustainable Economy in San Martín, Peru
    EditCaption Description:In the Peruvian Amazon, CI is working with USAID, Disney, regional government agencies and local partners in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest to help improve farmers’ livelihoods.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/developing-a-sustainable-economy-in-san-martin-peru.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_26635787.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Santa Cruz highland forest. © Will Turner
    EditCaption Title:Economic Incentives to Protect Ecuador’s Forests
    EditCaption Description:In Ecuador, CI is working with the government to improve livelihoods and mitigate climate change by providing incentives to landowners for conserving native forest.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/Economic-Incentives-to-Protect-Ecuadors-Forests-socio-bosque.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_31983532.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Crab fisherman in Barra, Brazil. © Cristina Mittermeier
    EditCaption Title:Supporting Smallholder Fishing in Brazil
    EditCaption Description:CI worked with nearly 45 partners to show how creating marine protected areas could improve the health of fisheries. In 2000, this work resulted in the creation of the Corumbau Extractive Reserve, a protected area that bans industrial and destructive fishing.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/supporting-smallholder-fishing-in-brazil.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_98327021.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Picking coffee berries. © Ingmar Zahorsky
    EditCaption Title:Helping Farmers Adapt to a Changing Climate
    EditCaption Description:Small-scale farmers in Central America are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. CI and our partners are working on the ground to identify and test strategies that can help these farmers adapt so their farms can continue to generate income.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/Pages/Ecosystem-based-Adaptation-for-smallholder-farmers-in-Central-America-CASCADE.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_65401724.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Women in Sumatra. © Conservation International/photo by Ade Budi Kurniawan
    EditCaption Title:Sustainable Landscapes Partnership
    EditCaption Description:In areas of northern Sumatra facing the pressures of deforestation, CI is working with USAID, the Indonesian government and the Walton Family Foundation to help local communities find economic alternatives to cutting down forests.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/sustainable-landscapes-partnership-northern-sumatra-indonesia.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_30526013.JPG
    EditImage Alt Text:A colorful coral reef with snorkelers swimming above in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. © Jeff Yonover
    EditCaption Title:The Ocean Health Index
    EditCaption Description:CI and our partners have created the first global, comprehensive measure of the health of the ocean — including how well it provides livelihoods and income for people around the world.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/pages/ocean-health-index.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_45219781.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Kayapo mother with children. © Cristina Mittermeier
    EditCaption Title:Funding Conservation
    EditCaption Description:CI works to find innovative, successful and lasting ways to fund conservation — benefiting communities financially while protecting the planet.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/how/pages/funding-conservation.aspx[Optional]
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    EditImage URL:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_65657554.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Wayag Lagoon, Bird's Head Seascape, Indonesia. © Will Turner
    EditCaption Title:Bird’s Head Seascape
    EditCaption Description:CI has worked with local communities to eliminate illegal fishing — and improve local people’s incomes — in several marine protected areas.
    EditRead More Text:Read more
    EditRead More Link:/projects/Pages/Birds-Head-Seascape-coral-triangle-papua-indonesia.aspx[Optional]
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    EditCall to Action Title:What can you do?
    EditCall to Action Description:Your support could fund projects like an ecotourism lodge in Bolivia, efficient cookstoves on Tonle Sap Lake or guard dogs to protect ranchers’ sheep from leopards in South Africa.
    EditCall to Action Button Description:Donate now
    EditCall to Action Button Link:/donate
    EditAnchor tag for sticky nav:actions[Optional]
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    You can also help if you...

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    EditBackground Image RenditionID:37
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    Video Section

    EditSection Title:Watch
    EditSection subtitle:Albino Neves, a Brazilian fisherman, relies on local fisheries to make a living — and now he’s helping to sustainably manage those resources.
    EditVideo ID:LjdsFJcWndw
    EditVideo Thumbnail (must be 16x9 pixel ratio):[Optional]
    EditVideo Page URL:/pages/video.aspx
    EditVideo image alt text:Video: Albino Neves and sustainable fishing in Brazil
    EditBackground image:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_30097488.jpg
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    Button Section

    EditSection Title:Shop smart
    EditSection subtitle:Look for the logos of the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council when shopping for wood and seafood products.
    EditButton link:/pages/what-you-can-do-tips.aspx#shop-smart
    EditButton text:Learn more
    EditBackground image:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_74945376.jpg
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    ​Email Signup Centered

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    More of Our Work Links

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    EditAnchor tag for sticky nav:[Optional]
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    First Image

    EditTitle:Partnering with Communities
    EditImage Alt Text:Women sell traditional crafts, Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area in the Konashen Indigenous District, Southern Guyana. © Piotr Naskrecki

    Second Image

    EditTitle:Global Stability
    EditImage Alt Text:Udzungwa National Park's Sanje Waterfall overlooks farmland that depends on its water. © Benjamin Drummond

    Third Image

    EditTitle:Wildlife Trade and Trafficking
    EditImage Alt Text:A leopard cat kitten at the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre. © Conservation International/photo by Molly Bergen