Institution: Ford Foundation
Beginning September 1, 1999 Dr. Coward became Visiting Professor at Cornell University where he is engaged in a study of environment and development in the worlds mountain regions.
Prior to that he spent nearly a decade with the Ford Foundation serving first as Director of the program in Rural Poverty and Resources and later as the Senior Director for the Asset Building and Community Development program. The Assets program is a worldwide program concerned with a spectrum of activities including reproductive health, economic development and community and resource development.
Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Coward was professor of Rural Sociology and Asian Studies at Cornell University. While on the faculty he also served at various times as Chair of the Department of Rural Sociology and director of the International Agriculture Program. His academic interests are in the field of human ecology and his research and writing has focused on the important interactions between the natural and social worlds.
Title: "Building assets to reduce poverty: Organizing international agricultural research to help." Co-authors: Melvin Oliver and Mike Conroy.
Most discussions of poverty are concerned with economic poverty the lack of sufficient cash incomes to meet household needs. But many of the worlds rural poor confront a more fundamental form of poverty --- what our colleagues Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain (Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi) have called environmental poverty. They define environmental poverty as "the lack of natural resources, both in quanity and quality, that are needed to sustain a productive and sustainable biomass-based economy". A degrading natural environment has cascading impacts on rural household wellbeing. Assisting the rural poor in natural asset building to control, acquire, manage and improve land, water, forests and other environmental resources -- is a promising paradigm to reduce environmental poverty by creating natural wealth and, in turn, economic wealth. Evidence for this approach is found both in long-standing indigenous communities and in contemporary development experiments.
The CGIAR-supported centers, with their twin concerns for better natural resource management and improved plant and animal resources can, in collaboration with others, play an important role in finding solutions to environmental poverty. Greater attention to this approach also would require stepped-up efforts by the centers and the overall system regarding policy research and unconventional institutional topics such as property rights and collective action.
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