The UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative has been working in the Asia Pacific region since 2008. Supporting country-led efforts to integrate poverty and environmental sustainability issues into national and subnational policies, planning, budgeting and monitoring, Poverty Environment Initiative’s experience in mainstreaming contributes. to strengthening institutions, enhancing environmental sustainability and increasing the resilience of vulnerable communities. The Initiative’s work involves building institutional capacity to improve the quality of domestic and foreign investments in natural resource sectors and strengthen planning and budgeting processes to finance climate change priorities.
Currently, Poverty Environment Initiative works closely with the Governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines with programmes previously in Viet Nam and Thailand.
Asia Pacific is the world’s most densely populated region and home to 66 percent of the world’s poor. Asia Pacific’s annual per capita GDP growth was 7.5 percent in 2010 and its resource consumption and carbon emissions now outstrip the rest of the world. Yet Asia Pacific has the lowest ecological carrying capacity, and its the region most prone to climate related disasters with the largest number of people vulnerable to climate change. This in combination with the region’s weak institutional capacity to address sustainable development exacerbates the issues and accelerates unsustainable resource use. The overall effect is that the achievement of Asia’s development objectives – including poverty reduction and food security – are made more difficult.
Poverty Environment Initiative supports countries to achieve sustainable development by integrating ecological, climate and fairness concerns into national, subnational and sectoral economic decision making and planning processes. The programme supports Ministries of Finance, Planning and Local Government to direct public and private investments to achieve greener, more inclusive economies. While each country programme has been initiated to meet country-level demand and is tailored to specific national policy processes, the regional Poverty Environment Initiative Asia-Pacific Strategy for 2013-2017 reflects the global Iniative’s Scale-up outputs aiming to promote :
- Poverty-environment approaches and tools for integrated development policies, plans and coordination mechanisms are applied
- Cross-sectoral budget, expenditure frameworks, coordination mechanisms, and environment-economic accounting systems are institutionalised
- Poverty-environment approaches and experiences are documented and shared to inform country, regional and global development programming by the UN and Member States
Since 2008 the Poverty Environment Initiative in Asia-Pacific has significantly contributed to the improvement of national plans, subnational and sectoral plans, budgeting and intergovernmental systems and the overall management of private sector investments in natural resources. By strengthening institutions and policies, PEI Asia-Pacific continues to focus on the following issues that are driving the poverty-environment nexus that is country-specific in each programme country:
- Integrated planning and budgeting for climate change (in Bangladesh, Indonesia)
- Transparency, benefit-sharing and use of revenues from natural resources (in Mongolia, Philippines)
- Empowering local actors for pro-poor environment and climate actions through the decentralization process (in Nepal, Bhutan)
- Environmental and social sustainability of private investments in natural resources (in Lao PDR and Myanmar)
A snapshot of our progress is given below. For more details, please see here.
(i) Key national planning documents such as Bangladesh’s Sixth and Seventh Five Year Plans, Lao PDR’s 7th and 8th National Socioeconomic Development Plans, Bhutan’s 10th and 11th Five Year Plans all carry greater emphasis of the specific environmental priorities of the poorest and most vulnerable communities. Other national policies and plans in the regions that have improved provisions for these poverty-environment issues include Bangladesh’s long-term Perspective Plan, Mongolia’s National Green Development Policy and Nepal’s Thirteenth Plan.
(ii) Nepal (2011) and Bangladesh (2013) were the first countries in the region to undertake a climate public expenditure and institutional review to track climate linked expenditures to better inform policy making, with the support of PEI and other partners. Building on this, Nepal created a Climate Budget Code to sustain the tracking and help plan climate investment in key sectors. In Indonesia, Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Reviews have been undertaken at the provincial level. At the national level, the Indonesian Government has adopted a national budget tagging system for climate change mitigation activities. The Royal Government of Bhutan, with PEI support, undertook a Public Environmental Expenditure Review covering its 10th and 11th Five Year Plans. In 2016, PEI is supporting the Government of Bhutan with other partners such as UNDP and BIOFIN to undertake an integrated review of climate, biodiversity and poverty expenditures and institutions. The aim is to provide Bhutan with a stronger investment case for advancing pro-poor biodiversity and climate agenda and support the formulation and financing of the upcoming 12th Five Year Plan.
(iii) The Department of Finance of the Philippines is promoting transparency and efficient allocation of natural resource revenues through the Environment and Natural Resource Data Management Tool. This tool serves as a platform that will enable the national government agencies, local governments and other stakeholders to monitor financial information relative to the shares from national wealth of local governments as well as the direct payments made by extractive industries and information on mandatory and other expenditures coming from the local government receipts/collections from extractive industries. The tool has been institutonalized at the local government level and has been rolled out to treasures from 200 local governments that have received shares from national wealth.
(iv) In Nepal, PEI was instrumental in the development of the Environmentally Friendly Local Governance (EFLG) Framework led by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development and implemented by all local bodies across the country. The EFLG framework sets out to mainstream environment, climate change, disaster and waste management into the local governance system. The Government of Nepal has institutionalized this framework which is expected to benefit poorest and most marginalized groups, particularly women.
(v) Bhutan pioneered a Mainstreaming Reference Group (MRG) institutionalized by the Prime Minister’s Office through executive order in 2013. The MRG is a cross sectoral task group including officials from local government, environment, planning and finance and commission for women and welfare to integrate gender, environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction and poverty (GECDP) into policies, plans and programmes. Since its inception, the MRG has improved the capacity of sectoral and local officials to address environment climate and poverty gaps in policymaking. At the national level, Bhutan’s National Environment Strategy for Sustainable Development (2015-2025) is one key policy that the Mainstreaming Reference Group has been instrumental in formulating and reviewing. Between 2014 and 2016, local level MRGs have been set up in all districts.
(vi) In Lao PDR, the Government has strengthened its capacity to promote and manage quality investments with PEI’s support through the development and use of tools like the model investment contract that ensures job creation, environmental and social safeguards, a financial model for mining investments, revised investment progress reporting template, corporate social responsibility reporting templates and One Stop Service – guidebook, and EIA/IEE Technical guidelines. The project has significantly contributed to advancing monitoring and compliance of projects at the national and subnational levels. A vital achievement has been the passing of Ministerial Instruction No. 8056/ MONRE that makes IEEs, EIAs and the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Certificate mandatory before investment projects can begin. The Initiative has also been supporting the Ministry of Planning and Investment to develop and manage an investment compliance database that seeks to improve the monitoring of compliance of investors and ensure that environmental and social safeguards are adhered to. The concession compliance investment databasecaptures essential data pertaining to licensing, taxes, duties, MoUs, concession agreement information, data on environmental and social obligations and other related information crucial to management and monitoring the quality of investments.
(vii) In Myanmar, A ‘Negotiation Reference Document’ was developed with PEI support to use as a reference tool for the analysis of international investment treaties, governing foreign investment between countries. Additionally, a financial modeling tool that can assess the feasibility of mining proposals, including revenues for environmental management and social development, was created for the Department of Mines.
Through its interventions, PEI is steadily changing the perception of environmental sustainability as an obstacle towards development and demonstrated that investments in sustainability and climate adaptation can lead to reduced poverty and improved livelihoods. By engaging Ministries of Finance, Planning, Investment, Local Development, the project is making strides in demonstrating that environmental sustainability is a cross-cutting concern.
Poverty Environment Initiative Asia Pacific is implemented in collaboration with the respective government counterparts and UNDP Country Offices and contributes to the One-UN process in Lao PDR and Nepal. Further, Poverty Environment Initiative Asia Pacific is collaborating with a number of UN agencies and other regional bodies and expanding the Initiative’s partnership within the UN system at the regional level will be a feature of the next Poverty Environment Initiative phase starting in 2013. UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is already a partner in Bhutan from the first Phase with possibilities of collaboration being explored in Nepal and Bangladesh. The Iniative’s work in Climate Financing is being carried out in close cooperation with UNDP’s Regional Climate Governance Programme. Areas of collaboration in mainstreaming are being explored with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects in the region. Poverty Environment Initiative is collaborating with UN HABITAT on ecosystem based adaptation in urban areas in Asia. Within UN Environment, Poverty Environment Initiative is linking with the Green Economy Initiative to promote green economy mainstreaming and working with assessment and is building on both environmental outlook work and sub-global ecosystem assessments. Additionally connections and collaborations exists with the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), Economy and Environment Programme for South East Asia (EEPSA), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP).
Press Release: Managing poverty through an environment lens in Lao PDR, April 2016
Press Release: PEI Lao-Thai lessons learned exchange programme, May 2011
Regional poverty-environment mainstreaming resources & expertise
South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE)
SANDEE is a regional network based in Nepal that uses economic tools and analyses to address South Asia’s environmental challenges and brings together South Asian researchers and institutes interested in the inter-connections among development, poverty and the environment. Its goal is to build the professional skills required to enable address local and global environmental concerns. SANDEE works in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Economy and Environment Programme for South East Asia (EEPSEA)
The Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia supports training and research in environmental and resource economics. Its goal is to strengthen local capacity for the economic analysis of environmental problems so that researchers can provide sound advice to policymakers. The program uses a networking approach to provide not only financial support but meetings, resource persons, access to literature, publication outlets, and opportunities for comparative research across its nine member countries (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, China and Papua New Guinea).
Asian Development Bank – Poverty and Environment Programme
The Poverty and Environment Program is a regional technical assistance project financed by the Poverty and Environment Fund (PEF), a multi-donor trust fund administered by ADB. The program aims to accelerate learning about poverty-environment linkages and effective approaches for poverty reduction. PEP maintains a knowledge base that features lessons from replicable and self-sustaining interventions.
Asian Development Bank – Core Environment Programme
Facilitated by the Asian Development Bank as an integral part of the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program, the Core Environment Programme seeks to create a region where economic growth and environmental protection are approached in parallel, and in a way that benefits all who live there. http://www.gms-eoc.org/
Asian Centre for Biodiversity
ACB champions biodiversity conservation in the region and facilitates cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
http://www.aseanbiodiversity.org/index.php?option= com_content&view= frontpage&Itemid=170
Asian Institute of Technology – School of Environment, Resources and Development