The Poverty-Environment Initiative of the United Nations Development Programme and the UN Environment is a global joint programme that supports country-led efforts to put pro-poor, pro-environment objectives into national and subnational development planning, in the phases of policy-making, budgeting, implementation and monitoring. The Poverty-Environment Initiative was launched in Latin America and the Caribbean in November 2008. Its portfolio covers five countries: Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru. The regional Team is based in Panama and it provides strategic direction to the country programmes and support to governments and UN Development Programme country offices to facilitate implementation of the Poverty-Environment Initiative, as well as to promote the sharing of knowledge and lessons learnt from the different countries in the programme.
Poor people in Latin America and the Caribbean are heavily dependent on natural resources for their well-being. Environmental degradation and climate change decreases their options for livelihoods and income generation. This is particularly the case for women, children and marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities. The environment is linked to three primary factors that affect quality of life of the poor, health, livelihoods and vulnerability. Furthermore, growing urbanization processes leads many people l to suffer from a lack of ecosystem services such as access to clean water, sanitation and sewage. The overall effect is that the achievement of the regions development objectives – including poverty reduction – is made more difficult.
Although middle income countries are predominant in Latin America and the Caribbean, economic growth has often come at the expense of environmental degradation, and the region still has inequality levels that rank among the highest in the world, with high vulnerability to environmental degradation, natural hazards and climate change. There are millions of people in the region whose basic needs are still not being met. The role of the State is key to deliver inclusive and quality social services, and there are millions of people who still do not meet their basic needs.
Poverty-Environment Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean addresses the interlinkages and complexities between social protection and environmental conservation and helps governments identify the best ways for mainstreaming poverty-environment in the policy-making process.
The Initiative’s main areas of work in the region are integrated waste management, sustainable land planning, multidimensional poverty measures, social protection, sustainable production and consumption, and natural resources valuation. Within these areas of work, the Initiative also includes gender equality and Sustainable Development Goals implementation as cross-cutting themes.
Under the 2013-2017 Latin America and the Caribbean Strategy, the Poverty-Environment Initiative currently has three active projects: ‘Integrated Management of Solid Waste for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth’ project in Peru, ‘Ecosystem Services Assessment of Development Planning Processes’ in Guatemala, and ‘Green Economy for reducing the gap to sustainable development and poverty reduction’ project in Paraguay. While each project has been tailored to meet specific country demands, the overall aim of the programme is to scale-up the impacts to national policies and generate lessons learnt to be applied in other countries and regions.
Summaries of Programmes
The main objective of the Poverty-Environment Initiative is to contribute to the reduction of poverty and vulnerability through the mainstreaming of the environmental dimension into development planning processes. Since 2010, the Initiviate has worked in five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean achieving successful experiences and important results.
Between 2010 and 2013, a project titled “Integrating Environment into National Development Processes” was carried out in Uruguay, which aimed to increase the efficiency of public policies through the mainstreaming of environmental issues into development planning and poverty reduction programmes, strengthening institutional capacity to effectively integrate environmental issues into planning, budgeting, sectoral programming and poverty reduction activities in the solid waste management sector.
Such project had important success in the integration of the environmental dimension into the public investment formulation and selection processes within the Uruguay National System for Public Investment framework (SNIP), including a six-fold increase of the allocated budget, the operational design of the Relocation Plan, and the implementation of the Packaging Law (Ley de Envases). The incorporation of the social component in the Packaging Law and in the upcoming Waste Management Law, currently under elaboration at the National Department of Environment (DINAMA, Dirección Nacional del Medio Ambiente), constitutes important project achievements.
In Dominican Republic, the Poverty-Environment Initiative project has managed to reduce climate vulnerability of poor households through the mainstreaming of poverty-environment linkages into national and subnational planning processes, in combination with the REGATTA programme (UN Environment Regional Gateway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action in Latin America and the Caribbean).
The project made significant achievements both at national level and within the Lago Enriquillo region, the pilot area of intervention of the project. The efforts were primarily directed towards the mainstreaming of poverty, environment and vulnerability linkages into the National Strategy for Territorial Development, paving the way for such conceptualization at national level and highlighting the clear linkages between poverty and environmental vulnerability in Dominican Republic, which are associated with climate extremes. In this regard, the project contributed to the elaboration of the first nationwide Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) at the household level, the first of its kind at global level.
The Initiative’s project in Guatemala, working jointly with the Presidential General Planning Secretariat (SEGEPLAN), aims to improve national development planning capacities, including the need for assessing and planning according to ecosystem national capacities and the need for a pro-poor equitable development, both in national and subnational policies, and in development planning processes at sectoral level.
To date, the direct integration of environmental dimensions into the “K’atun National Development Plan: Our 2032 Guatemala”—road map for the long term development of the country elaborated through participation—was achieved by means of a specific chapter dedicated to environmental topics and through the establishment of the conceptual link between environment, climate change, sustainable use of natural resources, and poverty. The project has also contributed to the National Land Use Planning Policy draft, elaborated by the National Council for Urban and Rural Development (CONADUR). Such document could represent an important landmark for a country that lacks territorial regulation. At the same time the project has contributed to the design and approval of the Regional Development Plan of the Oriente Region (formerly called Corredor Seco), which bases the region’s development prospects on an orderly and coherent management of its natural resources and ecosystems.
In Paraguay, the PEI initiative actively collaborates with the Secretariat for Social Action (Secrearía de Acción Social, SAS), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAGA, Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería) and the Secretariat of Environment (SEAM), aiming to improve the level of coordination between social protection programmes and agricultural development public policies. By working with one of the country’s most vulnerable sectors (small-scale farmers in rural areas), the initiative seeks the integration of environmental dimensions into national programmes for conditional cash transfers (TENONDERA) and for income generation (TEKOPORA), while aiming to articulate such programmes with the MAGA’s national programme for food production (PPA) for more efficient and environmentally sustainable intervention.
At subregional level, the project is working to generate and test a management and coordination model that can be replicated in other areas of the country by supporting families in rural communities in the Caazapá National Park area, collaborating with the Caazapá Department and the Municipality of Tavaí for the integration of environmental aspects into productive sectors and for an improved coordination of all actors at the local level in order to have a positive impact through sustainable agricultural production and inclusive markets.
In Peru, Poverty-Environment Initiative supports the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) in the generation of a sustainable management model that includes a gender perspective, enabling the production of social, environmental and economic benefits in the solid waste management sector with the incorporation of informal collectors (one of the country’s most stigmatized and vulnerable occupations) into the formal system through source separation and recycling programmes (at household level, but also involving private companies and other public institutions). The project has supported the formulation of the new Solid Waste Management National Plan (PIGARS) and the elaboration of several studies in collaboration with other actors such as the Ministry of Labor (MINTRA, Ministerio de Trabajo) and the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP, Ministerio de la Mujer y las Poblaciones Vulnerables).
The project is developing and pilot-testing the model in Peru’s second largest city, Arequipa, supporting the municipality in the elaboration of public policy documents with the above mentioned approach (solid waste management plans at district and provincial level) and in working with recognized recyclers to generate a sustainable model that can be replicated in the rest of the municipalities and provinces of the country.
- Successfully enhanced national stakeholders awareness and understanding of poverty-environment linkages and of the importance of integrating them into development planning
- Secured strong government ownership and interest for Poverty-Environment Initiative and poverty-environment related activities helping to create knowledge and facilitate poverty-environment mainstreaming
- Enhanced poverty-environment best practices in different sectors such as solid waste management, household safeguards and climate change mitigation; such processes have had impact and have been incorporated as criteria to select and to prioritize national public investment policies
- Solid partnership relations have been built with Nairobi headquarters and South-South collaboration has been strengthened and promoted through exchange of good practices
Poverty-Environment Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean is implemented in collaboration with the respective government counterparts and UN Development Programme Country Offices. Poverty-Environment Initiative Latin America and the Caribbean collaborates with a number of UN agencies and other regional bodies.
Regional poverty-environment mainstreaming resources & expertise
The IBERAMERICAN NETWORK OF ECOLOGICAL ECONOMY, REDIBEC, is a network aimed at the exchange and joint work of people and institutions, in the field of Ecological Economics, from an academic, methodological and instrumental point of view. The REDIBEC operates through nodes in different countries of the region and an administrative secretariat, which after an initial stage in charge of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, FLACSO-Sede Ecuador, passed through the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the University Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), and was re-located to the Center for Research in Ecosystems (CIEco) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).