Glossary: Key terms



Apartheid was a system of government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. It literally means 'apartness'. The different racial groups in South Africa were very much separated from each other with each group having their own facilities, schools, buses, etc. The system was very unfair and discriminated towards non-white people.



Child labour

Refers to children doing any work that deprives the child of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend school, and that is mentally, physically, socially and morally dangerous or harmful.



The cutting down and removal of all or most of the trees in a forested area, without replanting them. Deforestation can erode soil, contribute to the creation of deserts and the pollution of water, and decrease biodiversity (animals and plant life) through the destruction of habitats.

Developed/developing country

The term 'developing country' is used to describe a country with a low level of material well-being or wealth. The levels of development vary greatly across developing countries, and within countries. Other words used for developing country: LEDC, Global South, Third World. A developed country is a country with a high level of material well-being or wealth. These countries are also called MEDC, Global North, or First World.




Finite means there is a limit to something, like our natural resources. One day they will run out.

Fish stock

A fish stock describes a group of fish that share characteristics and attributes, e.g. jack mackerel, tuna, cod.


Gender discrimination

A situation where someone is treated less well due to the fact that they are either a man or a woman.


Globalisation is the worldwide process of the integration of economic, trade and communication technologies. The world is becoming more and more connected due to people sharing their views, products and culture with other people around the world.


Human rights

The basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, etc. These rights are written down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



The process by which a society or country transforms itself from a mostly agricultural (farming) society into one based on the manufacturing of goods and services. The work originally done by people is often replaced by machines.





Migrant worker

A person who has moved away from his original home in search of a job somewhere else.


Natural resource

A material source of wealth, such as timber, fresh water, or a mineral deposit, that occurs in a natural state, and has an economic value.



Outsourcing means when a company contracts companies or people in a different country to take over work such as production or customer service to save on costs.


Catching so many fish that the species cannot replenish its numbers through reproduction. This would be called 'overhunting' with mammals, birds and reptiles.



The World Bank defines poverty as 'A person is considered poor if his or her income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs'. The minimum level is usually called the poverty line. Poverty varies across time and societies as what is needed to meet basic needs varies.

Poverty trap

An economic situation that makes it difficult for people to escape poverty because they are poor.



Resource depletion

A term used to describe natural resources being used up to the point when there is no more of that resource left. Resource depletion can refer to trees, oil, fish, fossil fuels, metals, minerals, animals, etc. These resources are used to such an excessive extent that they cannot be replaced in time to fulfil the needs of mankind. The resources become exhausted and may eventually disappear from our planet altogether.


Sustainable development

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.




The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

United Nations (UN)

An organisation formed of all the countries in world. The UN was set up in 1945 to promote peace, security and international cooperation.


An increase in the population in cities and towns, with people moving to urban areas in search of work and opportunities.

Urban slums

Settlements, neighbourhoods, or city regions that cannot provide basic living conditions necessary for their inhabitants to live safe and healthy lives.