Poverty-Environment Initiative Africa Regional Meeting in Kigali

During the past ten years, nine countries in Africa have with support from the joint UNDP-UN Environment PEI started examining the interconnections between poverty, environment and development, the so-called poverty-environment nexus, and explored new ways of how to address these challenges through an integrated approach. As a result 12 national policies, 35 subnational development plans and 47 sectoral policies and plans include Poverty-Environment objectives and targets with budgets allocated for their implementation.

To draw on the collective experiences from the nine countries and further explore how country teams can use poverty-environment mainstreaming approaches and tools to influence national budgeting and planning processes in the context of the SDGs a PEI Africa regional meeting was held in Kigali, Rwanda 26-30th of October 2015. The meeting brought together around 60 participants from Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania representing ministries of finance, planning, environment and gender as well as UNDP, UN Environment (PAGE, SCP, GE) and UN Women.

In the opening remarks, Rwanda’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, highlighted how policymakers, in light of the SDGs, have the responsibility to deliver on sustainable development so that people are lifted out of poverty and that environmental resources are sustainably managed. Biruta said that PEI has proven that these two concepts are not contradictory and showed ways of how it can be addressed by integrating p-e objectives into policies and plans catalyzing change on the ground and that this meeting will be important to map the way forward. Along the same lines, Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, Director General of Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority and the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin Manneh, recognized that PEI is well placed to provide support to countries for internalizing the SDGs. Dr. Rose provided examples of how PEI has supported Rwanda to overcome the perceived tension between environmental sustainability and development with the support of studies and carefully targeted advocacy efforts. Today even the President has recognized the importance of that the ministry of finance is working together with REMA to pursue sustainable development of the country.

By the end of the meeting countries had shared experiences of poverty-environment mainstreaming in planning and budget processes, mapped out challenges and explored ways forward for PEI Africa in 2016-2017 in light of the SDGs. During the week the new PEI Handbook on ‘Mainstreaming Environment and Climate for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development’ was also launched and a field visit to Muyebe Green Village was organized.