Help and assistance given by one group to another. Often aid refers to financial and technical help given by developed world governments and NGOs to the developing world.
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Alternative Technology
Technology designed to be environmentally sustainable and to minimise resource consumption.
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Appropriate Technology
Technology that is adapted to suit local conditions: it can be high-tech or low-tech.
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The range of genetic, species or ecosystem diversity in a given area.
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The progressive concentration of pollutants up the food web, towards top predators.
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A global-scale ecosystem, such as a tropical forest or tundra.
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Management and problem-solving which comes from within a community, often using local skills and resources.
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Carrying Capacity
The population size that an area's resources can support without long-term degradation. It is related to technology as well as resource quantity.
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CCS (carbon capture and storage)
Extracting carbon dioxide from exhaust gases before it is released into the environment, and storing it, usually underground.
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The active management of areas, ecosystems and landscape. It seeks to balance the need to protect and conserve with the demands of human activity.
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Contested Space
A location which is the subject of conflict over how it should be used.
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The removal of salt from seawater to make it fit for humans to drink.
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Land turning to desert, often involving increased aridity and vegetation loss, usually as a result of human mismanagement.
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The process of improving the human condition. Often it describes economic growth and industrialisation, but it should also include improvement of human health and wellbeing.
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Development Gap
The widening income and prosperity gap between the global 'haves' of the developed world and the 'have-nots' of the developing world, especially the least developed countries.
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Digital Divide
The gap between those in the developed world who have access to digital communications and those in the developing world who do not.
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Ecosystem Services
The benefits ecosystems provide to humans in the form of provisioning services and regulating services such as flood control.
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Tourism which attempts to minimise environmental impacts and promote cultural and ecological understanding.
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Being unique in ecological terms, e.g. species which are found nowhere else.
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Environmental Degradation
The steady decline in the quality and health of the natural environment as a result of human activities such as air and water pollution, soil erosion and ecosystem destruction.
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The pollution of the ecosystems with excessive nitrate and phosphate from human activity.
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Fragile (fragility)
Describes ecosystems and landforms which are easily damaged or destroyed and vulnerable to change.
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Gene Pool
A measure of biodiversity based on the number of unique genes in an ecosystem.
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Global-scale political systems, allegiances and negotiations, including global governance and agreements.
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The economic process of increased global connectedness and interdependence resulting from rapid increases in trade, financial flows, global communication and migration.
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The ecological and environmental area a species lives in.
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Initial Advantage
The benefit gained by developed countries through developing first; those which developed later are always in a race to catch up.
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In Situ/Ex Situ
The conservation of species in their natural habitat (in situ) or in another place (ex situ), e.g. in a zoo or game park by captive breeding.
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Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO)
A group or organisation made up of different member states, such as the UN or the EU.
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Intermediate Technology
Low-technology solutions which are often cheap, easy to build and maintain, adaptable to local conditions and labour-intensive. Many are environmentally friendly.
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The allocation of money or resources into an area by a company or government in order to make a profit. Often this is in the form of commercial property or factory development. When the investment is from one country to another it is called FDI.
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Knowledge Economy
Economic growth based on information and data rather than products and services. Knowledge becomes a saleable commodity.
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An expensive, large-scale civil engineering project, usually with major impacts.
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Control over a product or technology by one company or individual to the extent that there is no competition.
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Modern-day followers of the idea of Thomas Malthus. They believe population will eventually outstrip available natural resources.
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The 12 nations of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. They are all net oil exporters, accounting for two-thirds of world oil reserves.
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On the edge, not part of the core, especially in an economic and political sense.
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The study of the seasonal behaviour of plants and animals, which may indicate climate change.
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An ecosystem which has developed as a result of human activity.
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Primary Production
The conversion of energy from sunlight into chemical energy by plants through photosynthesis to produce new biomass.
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Small, isolated, vulnerable pockets of plant or animal species which are extinct across their broader ecological range.
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Returning a degraded ecosystem or natural system to its former state.
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A country with dominant global political and economic influence.
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Describes actions and processes which minimise negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems and promote human wellbeing.
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Sustainable Development
Development that meets the environmental, economic and social needs of today's population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
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Management solutions and other measures imposed from above, e.g. by national governments.
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The change of goods and services, usually involving money.
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Trophic Level
The position an organism occupies in the food chain.
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The health of either humans or ecosystems. It is increasingly recognised that human wellbeing depends on healthy ecosystems and a healthy environment.
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Alternative Technology


Technology designed to be environmentally sustainable and to minimise resource consumption.

Card 3


Appropriate Technology


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