Chapter 2: Importance of Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Concerns

Table of Contents

Introduction Further reading
Key Concepts  
Topics  
Key Messages  
Takeaways  

 

Introduction

Importance of Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Concerns examines the urgency of mainstreaming poverty-environment objectives into planning and budgeting processes, and describes key concepts for understanding poverty-environment linkages, including the contribution of environment and natural resources to human wellbeing and pro-poor economic growth. The chapter also explores the importance of natural capital to the wealth of low-income countries and discusses opportunities for and challenges of mainstreaming.

 

Key concepts

  • Poverty has many dimensions.

  • Environment and natural resources makes up a significant part of the livelihood of the poor.

  • Degradation of environment and natural resources creates a poverty trap.

  • Unsustainable use of environment and natural resources has negative health impacts on poor people.

  • The poor are the most vulnerable to climate change.

  • Unsustainable natural resource use and the impacts of climate change affect women and men differently.

  • Rural women depend on natural resources and agriculture for livelihood.

  • Improving poor women’s access to environment and natural resources contributes to poverty reduction.

  • Natural capital – the “GDP of the poor” – make up the main source of livelihoods among poor rural and forest-dwelling households worldwide.

 

Topics covered in this chapter

  • Climate change, vulnerability of the poor

  • Disasters, social protection

  • Ecosystem services

  • Environmental health, indoor air pollution

  • Gender inequality, agriculture

  • Hunger and malnutrition

  • Natural Capital

  • Poverty, multidimensional

  • Rural women

  • Water shortages

 

Key messages

  • Poverty has many dimensions

    Poverty is multidimensional, comprising numerous aspects which make up poor people’s experience of exclusion and marginalization. These include inadequately living standards; lack of access to clean water, sanitation and sustainable energy; poor health; lack of income and access to productive resources such as land; and disempowerment.
     

  • Environment and natural resources makes up a significant part of the livelihood of the poor

    Environment and natural resources constitute a significant economic base in many countries, and its use generates economic and social benefits for people over time. Natural resources such as soils, forests, fisheries, water and minerals, among others, are the principal sources of income, social protection, employment creation and human capital development (in terms of health and education), particularly for rural families and communities living in poverty.
     

  • Degradation of environment and natural resources creates a poverty trap

    The degradation of environment and natural resources – made worse by lack of access to adequate infrastructure (for example, energy, roads and markets), rights and credit creates a poverty trap that leads to further environmental degradation and worsening poverty.
     

  • Unsustainable use of environment and natural resources has negative health impacts on poor people

    Unsustainable use of environment and natural resources, such as indoor air pollution from household solid fuel use and occupational exposure to chemicals, has negative health impacts on poor people, especially women and children. Improved health from better environmental conditions would improve their livelihood, economic development and resilience to environmental risks.
     

  • The poor are the most vulnerable to climate change

    Climate change has devastating impacts on communities around the world, affecting the poor in particular. The poor are most vulnerable as they have the least capacity to respond to, recover from or adapt to climate-related shocks and stresses. Increased storm severity and frequency, changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels exacerbate existing economic, political and humanitarian stresses.

    Climate change is threatening the stability and productivity of agricultural production, shift production seasons, alter pest and disease patterns, and modify the set of feasible crops—affecting production, prices, incomes and, ultimately, livelihoods and lives.

    Lack of access to and control over livelihood resources such as agricultural and forest lands and water resources exacerbate the vulnerability of the poor and impede their ability to adapt to climate change (CARE 2011).
     

  • Unsustainable natural resource use and the impacts of climate change affect women and men differently

    Unsustainable natural resource use and the impacts of climate change have implications on gender equality, as they affect women and men differently (CARE 2011).
     

  • Rural women depend on natural resources and agriculture for livelihood

    The majority of rural women, a demographic that comprises a quarter of the total world population (FAO 2000), depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods (World Bank and IFPRI 2010).
     

  • Improving poor women’s access to environment and natural resources contributes to poverty reduction

    Taking gender and rights-based considerations into account in environment and natural resources management, along with expanded public and private investment to improve poor women’s access to environment and natural resources, can significantly contribute to poverty reduction and national development goals.  
     

  • Natural capital – the “GDP of the poor” – make up the main source of livelihoods among poor rural and forest-dwelling households worldwide

    Natural capital is defined as the stock of natural assets that provide society with renewable and non-renewable resources and a flow of ecosystem services, the latter being the benefits that ecosystems provide to people (Russi and ten Brink 2013).

    Natural capital comprises both ecosystem assets and natural resources, including land, minerals and fossil fuels, solar energy, water, living organisms, and the services provided by the interactions of all these elements in ecological systems (UNEP 2014).

    Ecosystem services and other non-market goods are estimated to make up between 50 and 90 per cent of the total source of livelihoods among poor rural and forest-dwelling households worldwide—the so-called “GDP of the poor” (TEEB 2010).

    The poor tend to have much less ownership or control of productive land and high-value natural assets (e.g. mineral resources), and therefore tend to draw less benefit from the use of the natural environment than the better-off, even though they derive a higher percentage of their income from natural capital.  

 

Takeaways

Did you know?

  • As many as 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making the environment healthier (Prüss-Üstün and Corvalan 2006).

  • Up to 600 million more people in Africa could face malnutrition as agricultural systems break down due to climate change impacts (UNDP 2011a).

  • An additional 1.8 billion people could face water shortages, especially in Asia (UNDP 2011a).

  • The average per capita transfer received by the extreme poor from social protection after disasters is much lower than the transfer received by the richest quintile.

  • Countries with lower levels of gender inequality tend to achieve higher average cereal yields than countries with higher levels of inequality.

  • Women farmers typically achieve crop yields 20-30 per cent lower than do men.

  • If the gender gap in agriculture was closed and domestic production increased by 2.5 to 4.0 per cent, this could result in 100-150 million fewer people living in hunger (FAO 2010).

 

Further reading

Mainstreaming Environment and Climate for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development: The Interactive Handbook to Strengthen Planning and Budgeting Processes, Chapter 2 Importance of Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Concerns

Empowering Women for Sustainable Energy Solutions to Address Climate Change

Getting to Zero: A Poverty, Environment and Climate Call to Action for the Sustainable Development Goals

The Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda

 

 

Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017