Table of contents

Key concepts  
Key messages  



This chapter highlights lessons from Poverty-Environment Initiative’s experience in supporting governments to mainstream poverty-environment objectives in planning, budgeting and monitoring processes. The lessons learned have important implications for policymakers and practitioners in advancing their work at country level.


Key concepts

  • In “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the UN member states put forward a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity and established the next generation of Sustainable Development Goals.

  • The new 2030 development paradigm

  • connects the economic, social and environmental strands of sustainable development

  • Promotes national institutional frameworks that enable effective integrated, cross-sectoral, development planning

  • goes beyond Gross Domestic Product to include the environmental costs and benefits associated with growth and the full economic value of ecological services and biodiversity

  • transitions economies towards a more resource-efficient, low-carbon future

  • integrates local governance and community-led development into government-led national development planning.

  • Linking poverty-environment issues to high-priority policy areas such as economic growth, job creation or poverty reduction is a winning strategy in making the case for poverty-environment mainstreaming.


Topics covered in this chapter

  • Economic evidence

  • Public climate and/or environmental expenditure reviews

  • Cost-benefit analysis

  • Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Reviews (CPEIRs)


Key messages

  • The strongest links between poverty-environment mainstreaming and economic growth typically are found in sectors such as agriculture and energy. These linkages also exist with regard to climate change and environmental and natural resource management.

  • Political economy issues—e.g. the identification of winners and losers in the current state or attitudes to reform—can help improve poverty-environment programme focus and activities.

  • To identify and understand the target populations for mainstreaming efforts, poverty and vulnerability assessments should be carried out—e.g. gender-disaggregated assessment, poverty and social impact analysis or poverty impact assessment.

  • Efforts should be made to ensure the empowerment and inclusion of the poor—including women, minorities and indigenous peoples—in the development process.

  • Mainstreaming gender along with poverty-environment helps improve the efficiency, efficacy and long-term sustainability of poverty-environment objectives.

  • The ministry responsible for national development planning or finance should take the lead in mainstreaming poverty and environment in development planning and budgeting. The ministry of finance or planning is an especially effective host institution to promote poverty-environment mainstreaming activities, while ensuring close links with the ministry of environment and other relevant line ministries such as agriculture, energy and transport.

  • Economic evidence on the costs and benefits of unsustainable and sustainable ENR management is vital in making the case for poverty-environment mainstreaming and justifying budget/investment allocations.

  • Key messages should be prepared and targeted to different audiences (e.g. decision-makers, practitioners, parliamentarians, the media) to ensure that the evidence generates change.

  • Effective horizontal and vertical coordination mechanisms are needed to ensure cross-cutting issues such as pro-poor environmental sustainability are integrated in the policies, plans and budgetary priorities of more than one ministry or sector.

  • Engaging in both annual and medium-term budget processes is required as well as in regulatory frameworks on investment and revenue generation (e.g. fiscal investments).

  • Adopting a strategy for increasing understanding of the linkages between poverty-environment outcomes, inclusive green economic growth, etc., among decision-makers, can increase the likelihood of higher expenditures being allocated.

  • Influencing sector and subnational processes is a very substantive, time-consuming effort; for this reason, priority environmental and natural resource sectors should be selected and focused on.

  • Weak organizational capacity constrains opportunities for poverty-environment mainstreaming. The capacity of relevant ministries to influence economic decision-makers should be built through sharing of analytical results, policy briefs, on-the-job learning and more formal types of training.

  • Staff participation in preparing economic studies on environment and natural resource management, the results from which can then be used to influence policy.

  • Long-term engagement with the entire monitoring and reporting cycle is needed, including institutional capacity development involving the national statistics office and delegated agencies responsible for data provision.

  • The integrated approach to mainstreaming pro-poor, gender-responsive environmental and climate issues outlined in this handbook and drawn from Poverty-Environment Initiative experience can contribute to this new development paradigm and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.



Did you know?

  • Economic Assessments have clearly demonstrated the economic costs of unsustainability at the national level and in some sectors. In Malawi, a 5.3% of Gross Domestic Product was lost annually due to unsustainable environmental and natural resource management.

  • Public Environmental Reviews have clearly demonstrated that public expenditure on environment is lower than justified by the economic evidence. In Mozambique, environmental damage to Gross Domestic Product is 17% per annum, while the cost of fixing environmental problems amounts to 9% of GDP. Yet only 1.4% of the country’s GDP is spent on the environment.



Further reading


Accelerating Sustainable Development in Africa: Country lessons from applying integrated approaches (2017). UNDP–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Articulating Social and Environmental Policy for Sustainable Development: Practical options in Latin America and the Caribbean (2017). UNDP–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Blossom Time: The UNDP–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative 2016 Annual Report (2017). UNDP–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Building Inclusive Green Economies: Stories of Change from the Poverty-Environment Initiative in Asia Pacific (2014). UNDP–UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative.


The Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda (2015). UN Women, UNDP–UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative, and The World Bank.


Enabling local success: A Primer on Mainstreaming Local Ecosystem-Based Solutions to Poverty-Environment Challenges (2011). UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Seeds of Change: The UNDP–UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative 2015 Annual Report (2016). UNDP–UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Stories of Change (2013). UNDP–UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Stories of Change from Africa (2014). UNDP–UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative.


Sustaining Resources, Improving Lives: Annual Progress Report 2014 (2015). UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative.


What drives institutions to adopt integrated development approaches? The poverty-environment nexus and analysis of country evidence from the Poverty-Environment Initiative (2012). United Nations Development Programme.


Published Date: 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017