Articulating Social and Environmental Policy for Sustainable Development: Practical options in Latin America and the Caribbean

Elaborated in the framework of the UNDP-UN Environment “Poverty Environment Initiative” (PEI), this publication identifies entry points to integrate environmental sustainability and social protection goals. It aims to contribute to the improvement of policy tools by providing practical examples of an integrated approach to the implementation of Agenda 2030 in Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the poverty-environment nexus.

The potential policy tools that could serve this purpose include conditional cash transfers systems; multidimensional poverty measurement; payments for ecosystem services; and food security and nutrition programmes. The paper presents four specific examples from the region: the “Bolsa Verde” Programme in Brazil, Hands for Water Alliance in Colombia, Dominican Republic´s Single Beneficiary System, and the Strategic Project for Food Security in Mexico.

The analysis shows that advancing towards sustainable development will depend on the efforts governments make to integrate eradicating poverty and reducing inequality with environmental management objectives in development planning and policies. The paper highlights concrete examples of existing tools and models in Latin America and the Caribbean that generate combined positive impacts on poverty reduction, social protection and environmental sustainability. The paper concludes that:

  • Multidimensional poverty measures that include environmental vulnerability variables improve the identification of factors affecting household deprivations, thus providing the basis for a more integrated analysis for poverty alleviation.
  • Social protection should be articulated with other public policies, including environmental policies, in order to be truly effective and sustainable. Likewise, environmental programmes and initiatives should include a pro-poor component to ensure marginalized and vulnerable populations play a role and to promote equal access to natural resources.
  • Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes can build in environmental actions in their design, to foster poverty reduction efforts that simultaneously are environmentally sustainable.
  • Environmental policy instruments, such as payment for ecosystem services, can improve the quality of life of rural populations and involve them in the protection of key environmental services. Social inclusion and poverty reduction should be included as goals from their inception.
  • The links between social protection systems and food security and sustainable agriculture are fundamental to create opportunities to transition out of poverty in rural areas.
  • Integrated social protection policies can promote resilience to climate change and disasters. 
Published Date: 
Wednesday, July 12, 2017


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