Poverty-Environment Mainstreaming

A Country-led Programmatic Approach to Poverty-Environment Mainstreaming

The Poverty-Environment Initiative delivers financial and technical support for sustained capacity building to governments and other actors who take on the challenge of mainstreaming poverty-environment linkages into national development policy, planning and budgeting processes. For example, the Initiative assists planning agencies to consider poverty-environment linkages, including climate change, in formulating economic and development policies, and helps environment agencies to engage with these policy processes more effectively. Poverty-Environment Initiative also supports civil society to engage in planning processes, making sure the voice of the poor is heard.


The  UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative Supports Governments

The figure illustrates how Poverty-Environment Initiative supports governments to mainstream poverty-environment issues into national planning processes. Based on experience to date, successful poverty-environment mainstreaming requires a programmatic approach — adapted to national circumstances. This framework has three components and there are typically a cluster of tasks needed for each component— for which a range of analytic tools can be used. The components are the following:

  • Finding the entry points and making the case
  • Mainstreaming poverty-environment linkages into policy processes
  • Meeting the implementation challenge

The components should be considered a flexible model to help guide the choice of activities, tactics, methodologies and tools in a particular country situation. Stakeholder engagement occurs throughout, from inception through policy development, implementation and monitoring. Each successive component builds on previous work, but the chronology is not fixed. Rather, mainstreaming poverty-environment linkages is an iterative process in which activities may take place in parallel or in an order different from that presented here, according to a country’s particular priorities and needs. Mainstreaming Environment and Climate for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development Handbook.


Finding the Entry Points and Making the Case

This component sets the stage for mainstreaming, focusing on activities designed to help countries identify entry points into the development planning process and to make a strong case for the importance of P-E mainstreaming. Activities include conducting country level political economy and institutional capacity assessments to assess contexts and drivers of change. It can also include preliminary integrated economic, social and ecological assessments that increase understanding of the nature of P-E links. Raising awareness, building partnerships, assessing the institutional and capacity needs and setting up working mechanisms are also essential activities of this component. Making the Economic Case Primer. 


Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Linkages into Policy Processes

This component is concerned with integrating poverty-environment linkages into policy processes and the resulting policy measures. This step targets a specific policy process—such as a national development plan or sector strategy — identified as an entry point as part of the preparatory phase described above. The elements of this component include developing new and targeted analytical studies to provide country-specific evidence about the nature of poverty-environment linkages in the country. Armed with such evidence, practitioners are better able to identify priorities and craft the arguments necessary to have an impact on the targeted policy process (such as a five year economic development plan (i.e. poverty reduction strategy paper), Sustainalbe Development Goal (SDG) strategy, or sector plan) and its associated documents. Once poverty-environment links have been integrated in the policy document, mainstreaming efforts continue with the development and initial costing and budgeting of policy measures. These measures might be systemic interventions (such as public sector budget systems or fiscal measures) or they might be more narrowly focused, such as sector interventions (focusing for example on agricultural legislation and budgeting, promotion of renewable energy, or the conservation of protected areas). Activities to strengthen institutions and capacities are  also a central part of this component.


Meeting the Implementation Challenge

This component focuses on making poverty-environment mainstreaming operational through engagement in budgeting, implementation, and monitoring processes. These activities are aimed at ensuring that poverty-environment mainstreaming becomes established as normal procedure within the country. Meeting the implementation challenge calls for the integration of poverty-environment links in the national monitoring system.  This component also requires engaging in budgeting processes to ensure that these processes incorporate the economic value of environment’s contribution to the national economy. Collaborating with sector and sub-national bodies to build their capacities to mainstream poverty-environment links within their work and effectively implement policy measures at various levels is also essential. In order to strengthen institutions and capacities in the long term, it is critical to establish poverty-environment mainstreaming as normal practice in government and administrative procedures, systems, and tools at all levels.



To access knowledge materials, please click on the relevant subject or section of the diagramme below.

Environmental mainstreaming is targeted at government processes for planning, 
budgeting, sector implementation, and local level implementation
Finding the entry points 
and making the case
Integrating environment 
into national development processes

Meeting the 

implementation challenge
Preliminary assessments
Understanding the 
governmental, political and 
institutional context
Developing country-specific 

Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) 
Economic analysis
Integrating poverty-environment in the monitoring system 
Indicators and data collection
Preliminary assessments
Understanding the poverty-environment 
Influencing policy processes
National (Policy Reduction Strategy Paper/SDG),
sector and sub-natonal levels
Budgeting and Financing forpoverty-environment
Budget processes and finance options
Raising awareness and building partnerships 
National consensus and commitment
Developing and costing policy 
Supporting policy measures 
National, sectoral and sub-national levels
Strengthening institutions and capacities
Needs assessment
Working mechanisms
Strengthening institutions and capacities 
Learning by doing
Strengthening institutions and capacities 
Mainstreaming as usual practice
Engaging stakeholders and coordinating within the development community
Governmental, non-governmental and development actors
Addressing thematic poverty-environment issues 
Climate change adaptation, resource efficiency, sound management of chemicals, sustainable land management, marine and coastal issues