Developing countries and economies in transition offer a wide spectrum of habitats and ecosystems, of which forests, grasslands and marine/coastal ecosystems are generally the most significant. Various kinds of human activities in developing countries are harming biodiversity in terms of habitat loss and degradation. The underlying causes are numerous, and centrally poverty. Many developing countries suffer from vulnerability to natural disasters and the resultant habitat destruction.
In all developed and some developing countries, 20 to 45 per cent of GDP is transferred to the central government as taxes and other revenue, representing a significant effort to meet the collective needs of society for security and welfare. In comparison, global contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations are minimal, even though the need for global political, social and environmental security is growing. As a greater proportion of wealth creation by the private sector is globalized and escapes national taxation, the base of economic activity supporting national environmental and social action, as a proportion of total activity, will shrink. The lack of international sources of funds for environmental protection is one reason why global environmental stewardship is falling so far behind development.
The Initiative for Social Action and Renewal's (ISAR) Cooperative Agreement with USAID supports the growth of the NGO movement in the Newly Independent States (NIS) and facilitates joint environmental activities between environmentalists there and in the U.S. ISAR has been working directly with NIS environmentalists since 1991. Since 1993, ISAR's program has included seed grants and technical assistance to indigenous NGOs, as well as partnership grants to support joint US-NIS NGO activities. The principal objectives of ISAR's program are to promote environmental protection, increase public awareness and discussion of environmental issues and promote citizen participation and democratic values in the region. Understanding that environmental protection cannot take place in isolation from economic development, the program supports initiatives that promote alternative energy approaches, sound natural resource management, and other issues that demonstrate the importance of sustainable economic development.