Burkina Faso and Mongolia highlight the importance of mainstreaming poverty reduction for an inclusive green economy
The first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme is taking place at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi from 23-27 June 2014, with more than 1,200 participants, including Environment Ministers, Government delegates and representatives of major groups and stakeholders.
During UNEA, the UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative and UN Environment’s Green Economy team jointly organized a panel discussion on mainstreaming poverty reduction for an inclusive green economy. The panel was chaired by Ms. Mette Wilkie, Director of UN Environment’s Division for Policy Implementation (DEPI).
In her introductory remarks Ms. Wilkie highlighted the fact that only through partnership can efforts for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability be successful, and that both PEI and PAGE were excellent examples of inter-agency, multi-disciplinary, and cross-sectoral collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. She further emphasized that civil society has an important role to play and encouraged participation from all stakeholders to make possible the Future We Want.
Mr. Nik Shekran, Head of UNDP’s Environment and Energy Group, pointed out challenges in dealing with poverty eradication and reversing environment decline, observing that even in countries with rising economic growth rates, “sticky poverty” still existed, with large percentages of the population still living under the poverty line. He contended that the world cannot resolve these issues by “tinkering at the margin” or working in silos, but instead must operationalize a paradigm shift in addressing environmental management. Mr. Sekhran congratulated the PEI on its pioneering of best practice, with UNDP and UN Environment ‘delivering as one’ at the country level (source IISD).
Burkina Faso’s Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, HE Salifou Ouedraogo, said that realizing an inclusive green economy requires cross-sectoral engagement and that poverty-environment objectives must be included in national policies, sector plans and budget frameworks. With the support of PEI such objectives have been included in Burkina Faso’s poverty reduction strategy and the five year development plan. The country is now looking to establish an environment fund for the implementation of pro-poor sustainability projects on the ground. Together with the Green Economy and the SWITCH Africa Green the Ministry of Environment are increasingly engaging with the private sector for the creation of green jobs.
Mongolia’s Minister for Environment and Green Development, HE Oyun Sanjaasuren, highlighted how the countries rapid economic growth, with a tenfold increase in GDP largely driven by the mining sector, has been achieved sometimes at the expense of environmental sustainability. She noted that the citizens of the capital city are today heavily affected by air pollution and the country has a responsibility to accelerate its efforts in adopting a Green Economy. In early June, the Government of Mongolia adopted its first green development policy and together with the Partnership for Activities on Green Economy (PAGE) is working to enhance the capacity of the public and private sector to transition to green economy principles.
Civil society and trade unions are also pushing the green economy agenda forward. Ms. Laura Martin Murillo from the trade union Sustainlabour outlined how the union in Peru and other countries are supporting workers to address environmental issues related to the use of pesticides in the agriculture sector, for example, to reduce poverty and the negative impacts on health.