To begin a review of environmental mainstreaming in the Philippines, UNDP-Philippines organised a two-day retreat of 20 Filipino experts in environment and development, facilitated by IIED. This reflected on progress over 20 years in integrating poverty/environment issues in policies, plans and investments, identifying success factors and future challenges – and was designed to initiate a country diagnostic and baseline for the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI).
The Learning and Leadership Group identified some preliminary lessons of environmental mainstreaming:
The real needs, potentials, and indeed action has tended to be at ‘local government unit’ level (LGUs). It is here where the issues are clearer, the decisions need to be made, communities are demanding change, and the actors can work together in practical ways.
Actual experience of events, notably natural disasters, has also been a key driver of improved attention to poverty/environment issues.
There is a necessary tension between top-down and bottom-up mainstreaming approaches – and both are needed. Centrally organised government processes for environmental mainstreaming can set useful frameworks, but are not enough. Other ‘tracks’ for mainstreaming are needed, in civil society, business, media and LGUs especially.
The entry point for mainstreaming needs to be framed in positive ways – perhaps into ‘prosperity creation’ rather than ‘poverty reduction’. Recent buy-in to the concept of ‘green growth’ as a way to make more sustainable use of environmental assets, is attracting the attention of central government and big business.
The Group shaped a preliminary agenda for improving environmental mainstreaming in the Philippines, to better tackle poverty and improve the sustainability of economic growth. It emphasises work at two levels. Firstly, ‘from the bottom’ – a range of actors in local government units identifying best practices, needs and constraints. Secondly, linking this information to work ‘from the top’ – central financial, economic and development authorities setting the national development plan, good policies and enabling conditions.
The Learning and Leadership Group is now working on detailed analysis during 2010, with each member working on specific case studies or thematic sections. The final analysis will be published at the end of the year in the IIED Environmental Governance series (as per Viet Nam, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, etc), and will serve as a baseline for PEI and subsequent initiatives. It is hoped that the Group will serve as a continuing ‘bouncing board’ for PEI in its analysis, debate and institutional reform work.