Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2012

Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Joyce Nielsen

Second Advisor

Michael Zimmerman

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


The global community is currently immersed in variety of environmental problems. One obstacle to promoting and furthering environmentalism in both developed and developing countries is poverty. Poverty poses a problem to the environmental and sustainability agenda because it is illogical to ask states constantly tied up in civil and local conflicts, whose governments struggle with corruption, and whose citizens are without very basic necessities and rights to be concerned about the environment and offsetting climate change. In order to further the sustainable development movement and increase the prospect of the movement being successful, it is necessary to establish and address the relationship between poverty and the environment. Through the examination of relevant background information and previously published literature on the relationship, a general understanding is formed. Four case studies all designed to determine the presence of poverty and environmental linkages in different countries and two current bottom-up approaches working on the linkages are reviewed and analyzed. Based on these analyses, it is concluded that issues arising from environment and poverty connections are varied area-to-area and must be addressed on a local basis. Factors such as governance, policies, and institutions can influence the connections as well. Local management of natural resources and local population involvement are key to solving issues stemming from the connections. It is recommended that due to the limited amount of empirical data there be increased encouragement of further case studies analyzing poverty and the environment among the sustainable development community as well as priority given to establishing more local-level programs to address the relationship.