Building peace in the minds of men and women

Earth's living resources: a world strategy for action now

The preservation of genetic diversity is both a matter of insurance and investment - necessary to sustain and improve agricultural, forestry and fisheries production, to keep open future options, as a buffer against harmful environmental change, and as the raw material for much scientific and industrial innovation - and a matter of moral principle.

The issue of moral principle relates particularly to species extinction, and may be stated as follows. Human beings have become a major evolutionary force. While lacking the knowledge to control the biosphere, we have the power to change it radically. We are morally obliged - to our descendants and to other creatures - to act prudently.

The World Conservation Strategy, a compelling new study published in March this year, provides an assessment of the present state of the global environment and proposals for world-wide action for rational development and conservation of the resources of our planet. The Conservation Strategy was prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) with the advice, co-operation and financial assistance of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund, and in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Unesco. In this issue of the Unesco Courier, devoted entirely to environmental problems, we publish large extracts from this important document.

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May 1980