Country Profile: 

Population (thousand) (2015):  3,431.55
Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, Country Rank (2014): 45
Gross Domestic Product per capita, at Purchasing Price Parity (2015) (US$): 21,200.6

Project Period: February 2010- December 2013

Main counterparts: Ministry of Housing, Land Use Planning and Environment (MVOTMA), Ministry of Social Development (MIDES), Municipality of Montevideo (MM), Planning and Budget Office (OPP) and UNDP Uruguay.

Main view: contribute to poverty and vulnerability reduction by mainstreaming the environmental dimension into the planning processes in the national solid waste management system and in the national investment public allocation system (SNIP).

Budget: USD 1,821,186 (USD 876,136 PEI; USD 945,050 cofinancing).         


Uruguay was the first full Poverty-Environment Initiative country programme in Latin America, initiated in 2009 and concluded in 2013.

Uruguay is primarily an urban society: More than 90% of the population live in urban areas, and 40% live in the capital, Montevideo. In 2010, nearly one in five Uruguayans were poor (18.5% of the popular); by 2014, poverty rates had dropped to less than one out of every 10 Uruguayans (9.7% of the population).

During the last decades the prevailing model of economic growth in the country showed that important segments of the population were vulnerable to poverty: after the crisis of 2002, a third of the country’s population was under the poverty line (it increased 14.1% between 1998 and 2003, NIS, 2004).  In the case of children under the age of five, 1 in every 2 was poor.  Although levels of poverty and inequality in Uruguay are low compared to other countries in the region, they have undergone significant increases, particularly from the late 1990s until 2004. From that point forward, this process was reversed as a result of the country’s economic recovery and the social policies implemented since 2005: the Social Emergency Plan (2005-2007) and subsequently the Equity Plan, comprising reforms to the tax regime and health care system and a new Family Benefits regime, among other policies that made up the Social Assistance and Integration Network (Reporte Social 2009).

This new context – economic growth combined with political will – created the opportunity for financing government efforts and investments in public policies aimed at lessening the existing inequalities, and these contributed to improving the living conditions of broad sectors of the population.  However, the challenge of achieving growth favourable to the poor and the vulnerable remains the same and is critical for Uruguay.  The context of economic expansion and international markets gives the country a new opportunity for inclusive development; one which should not be wasted.

For these reasons, it is particularly important to design a process for planning public interventions with long-term objectives, which can effectively make use of the development potential that exists in the linkages between poverty and the environment, eventually impacting on some of the causes of poverty and extreme poverty that persist. For example, it is likely that responses to the development needs of the inhabitants of certain areas do not move with the necessary speed to take advantage of existing opportunities; or that without public intervention, certain needs cannot be anticipated, because the markets that could signal these needs in order to anticipate them in the medium or long term do not even exist.

In Uruguay there are clear linkages between the deterioration of the environment and its effect on the poorest sectors. The increasing pressure on the natural resources, the related development model, and climate change will increase the uncertainties and the risks to the population and this will take place asymmetrically; the populations with the least resources being the most affected – women, the elderly, and children – and the most vulnerable productive sectors, for example, family agriculture, among others both in rural areas (greater demand for agricultural land, water, more intense use of the soil, loss of biodiversity, etc.) as well as in the cities (expansion of the cities, peripheral growth).  Consequently, there will be an increase in the frequency of problems due to the unwanted impacts derived from human activity as well as an increase in the conflicts due to the management and use of environmental goods and services.

The sectoral predominance of MVOTMA and MIDES in social policy leads to planning and the subsequent budget allocations being closely linked to the management aspects of each cabinet – human resources and the cabinet’s operational expenses – and thus focusing on matters in the short term.

The problem is that the level of environmental mainstreaming in the national, sectorial and decentralized processes to formulate development policies is insufficient to improve the living conditions of a significant portion of the population in Uruguay, especially informal collectors living from solid waste. The country has another level of State action for centralized planning: the Budget and Planning Office (OPP), an ad-hoc cabinet with constitutional authority to influence policy formulation, coordination and planning.  The project aims to have an incidence in the OPP trough environmental mainstreaming into the SNIP.

Main activities 

  • For the urban sector, determine the environment-poverty synergy mechanisms and quantify them with initial emphasis on the interface between health, environmental quality, income levels, and waste management.
  • For the rural sector, identify the main areas of environment-poverty synergies with initial emphasis on the marginalized population who depend largely on natural resources.
  • For the areas mentioned above, estimate to what degree the environmental variables have been mainstreamed into development plans and poverty reduction.
  • Estimate the cost-benefit of mainstreaming environment into development and poverty reduction policies, with initial emphasis on the sectors of urban and rural poverty.
  • Design and implement a dissemination campaign of synergies between poverty and environment in key urban and rural sectors through (i) reports for decision makers; (ii) communication materials; (iii) field visits, and; (iv) exchange programmes. 
  • Estimate the specific needs in terms of capacities and institutional requirements for the different actors in poverty-environment key sectors and areas.
  • Build the technical/institutional capacities in the IMM, OPP, MVOTMA and MIDES to mainstream environmental into development plans and poverty reduction.  This capacity building will respond to the mandates established for key partners (for example, those delineated for the OPP planning and development area).
  • Provide financial/technical support to strengthen the capacities of the non-government counterparts participating in the project for mainstreaming the environment into development and poverty reduction plans.
  • Foster local-national institutional dialogues on the benefits, opportunities, and challenges derived from mainstreaming environment into public development policies.
  • Support a process for building agreements between key institutions with mandates on environmental management and social and development issues at the national and local level.
  • Facilitate the mainstreaming of environment into key sectoral plans, with initial emphasis on those of MIDES, MVOTMA and IMM.
  • Facilitate and support submission of mainstreamed poverty-environment plans into the five year national budget and its annual reviews by the respective government partners.
  • Define and propose a work model/protocol in the OPP that includes the systematic analysis of possible synergies between poverty and environment in sectoral plans and in the cases where the cost-benefit results so indicate, support mainstreaming the environmental dimension into those development plans and poverty reduction actions (for example, plan 2015, plan 2030, five year budget and annual reviews, resources for municipalities from OPP, etc.).
  • Promote sustainability of a systematic mainstreaming of poverty and environment through supporting OPP to include in its annual budget the technical capacities facilitated by the project.
  • Management, technical support, supervision and administration.
  • Evaluation and monitoring.



  • Increased collaboration between key poverty, environmental and planning actors and provided strategic capacity-building support.
  • IMM, MVOTMA, OPP and MIDES staff training on P-E links and comprehension.
  • Support to eh packaging law through innovative survey of 1200 households to determine poverty–environment linkages, review of social programmes and relevant national legislation on solid waste and social inclusion.
  • Technical assistance provided to recycling cooperatives to review installed capacities and the current limitations of such groups to scale ongoing experiences.
  • Collection of specific data on the main P-E linkages relevant to the long-term development of the poorest households affected by exposure to toxic waste.
  • Six-fold budget increase over five years (from US$350,000 in 2010 to US$ 2.15 million in 2014) in the Ministry of Social Development to support the integration of P-E linkages into development policies for poverty, environment and waste management initiatives.
  • Scaling up MIDIS experience providing key technically support to the planning and budgeting process of "Montevideo Management Plan for the recovery of non-returnable packaging waste". This plan, with an annual budget of USD 5 million, aims to develop in the Montevideo Department –residence of almost half national population- a proposal for environmental and social non-returnable packaging recovery through clean circuits. The plan involves the ministries of Environment and Social Development, the Municipality of Montevideo and the private sector. In 2014, the central goal of the plan is to recover 20% of packaging waste and cover 60% of the population, generating 128 new jobs for informal waste sorters.
  • Redesigning of the Office of Planning and Budget (OPP) mission and structure, and its Development Strategies and Investment Policies Area to ensure the wider integration of environmental sustainability in poverty reduction programmes and institutional mandates. This Office also created 10 new staff positions to increase P-E mainstreaming outcomes within the National Public Investment System (SNIP). These positions are covered by the public national budget for the first time.
  • Support to the creation of a South-South cooperation agreement signed between OPP and SENPLADES (Ecuador) in order to exchange experiences about P-E links integration into national public investments systems. . 
  • Mainstreaming of environment into sectorial planning with the planning, environment and budget agencies working together.


Key Documents
Mainstreaming Resources: 
Progama Uruguay Clasifica del Ministerio de Desarrollo Social
Área de Coordinación Estratégica de la Oficina de Planeamiento y Presupuesto- Estrategia de Desarrollo Uruguay III Siglo