Poverty-Environment Initiative launches new five-year phase to meet demand

Jun 12, 2013

A group of fishermen gather their catch in a river in Gajaria, Bangladesh. Photo: ©G.M.B. Akash

New York - The United Nation's Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) has launched a new phase of operations to meet growing demand from Member States for assistance in implementing measures that can reduce poverty, while promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and a healthy environment.

PEI is the joint UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) effort to link poverty-environment issues with priority policy interests such as economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction. It also integrates key issues such as gender equality and climate change adaptation.

The 2013-2017 programme was launched today in New York during an event hosted by the governments of Norway and Sweden, in the margins of a UNDP Executive Board Meeting.

The new phase will consolidate the poverty-environment mainstreaming gains achieved to date; build on regional strategies that further integrate gender and equity; and support the long-term sustainability of poverty-environment mainstreaming to promote greener growth in up to 28 countries.

The launch event – which featured presentations by senior officials from Bangladesh, Norway, Rwanda, Sweden, UNDP and UNEP – reflected on PEI successes and pointed the way for the future.

In his opening remarks, UNDP’s Director of the Bureau for Development Policy, Olav Kjorven, highlighted how the connection between poverty reduction and the environment has grown more apparent as the impacts of climate change and the degradation of ecosystems affect the daily lives of millions of poor people.

In a recorded video address, UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said the PEI was addressing many objectives from the narrative of the Rio+20 Conference and that natural capital held ignificant opportunities for building pathways out of poverty.

“National and macro-economic policies can begin to take account of the value of these natural resources to the poor and in the broader context also to the development of whole nations and economies. It is here that the focus of the PEI and the coming together of UNDP and UNEP have yielded real benefits,” Mr Steiner said.

Representing the Planning Commission of Bangladesh, Dr. Shamsul Alam noted how the PEI had helped mainstream the poverty-environment-climate nexus in national plans, including how the PEI-supported Climate Public Expenditure Review had prompted the development of the Climate Fiscal Framework at central and local government level in Bangladesh.

The Team Coordinator of Rwanda’s National Environment and Climate Fund, Alex Mulisa said the PEI had positively influenced the approaches of Rwanda’s ministries of Finance, Planning and Environment towards greater integration of poverty-environment linkages through applying tools, such as an economic analysis of the costs of environmental degradation.

In his remarks, the Minister to the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN, Magnus Lennartsson, said that Sweden often cites the PEI as one of the best examples of how UN agencies can work together, serving as a model for how UNEP (as a non-resident agency) can work operationally through UNDP at the country level, with both organizations contributing on the basis of their comparative advantages.

Speaking in New York, the Policy Director of Norway’s Department of Climate, Environment and Natural Resources, Bente Herstad, said the PEI was a good example of concrete promotion of inclusive green growth in low income countries and that this was in line with Norway’s development cooperation priorities.

In addition to maintaining its focus on national-level, practical actions, the new phase of the PEI will also feed into global policy processes and the wider post-2015 development agenda.

Through financial and technical support, PEI assists government decision-makers and a range of other stakeholders to manage the environment in a way that improves livelihoods and leads to sustainable growth.

Contact information

For more information and to download the 2013-2017 brochure, as well as more success stories, please visit the initiative's website: www.unpei.org, or contact Charlie Avis (Charles.avis@unep.org) or Devika Iyer (devika.iyer@undp.org).

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