PEI pre-launches the Stories of Change and engages stakeholders at UNEP’s Governing Council

Feb 18, 2013

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Ms. Jenifer Chilunga (Left), highlighted how important the PEI-supported economic analysis and Malawi State of Environment and Outlook (MSOEOR) reports had been for Malawi. Photo: UNEP/UNDP

The twenty-seventh session of the UNEP Governing Council is being held at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi from 18-22 February. The Poverty-Environment Facility (PEF) took the opportunity during this meeting to arrange a session with media to share experiences through pre-launching the PEI Stories of Change. (These Stories of Change will be shared on the website once officially launched). Some 25 journalists from around the world took part in the session, which aimed to raise awareness of poverty-environment issues (P-E) amongst the media in order to communicate the successes of PEI to date and strengthen stakeholder engagement in the next phase. The event, held on Tuesday, February 19, featured a high-level panel consisting of the honorable Minister of Environment and Climate Change from Malawi, Dr. Jenifer Chilunga, the Secretary of State for International Development from Norway, Mr. Arvin Gadgil (representing the PEI donor partners), the UNEP co-director of the PEI, Dr. Isabell Kempf and Ms. Anne-Marie Sloth Carlsen, representing UNDP’s Environment and Energy Group.

The Minister highlighted how important the PEI-supported economic analysis and Malawi State of Environment and Outlook (MSOEOR) reports had been for Malawi. By comparing the costs of unsustainable and sustainable natural resource management, the studies illustrated that unsustainable Natural Resource Management costs the country an equivalent of 5.3 % of GDP each year (more than the total funding allocated to education and health in 2009). This enabled the government to incorporate P-E objectives into the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS) II, revise the decentralized environmental and management guidelines, develop a national environment and climate change communication strategy, and ensure that viable options for sustainable financing mechanisms are harmonised, resulting in longer-term support for the development of P-E planning and budgeting guidelines. The minister highlighted that these achievements have been possible due to the realization of cross sector coordination and the involvement of the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) and various sectoral ministries in Malawi.  The Minister also highlighted the key role played by the media in Malawi in raising awareness across the country on findings from the economics study. She referred to the example of high level of awareness related to HIV/AIDS across regions and ages as a good example and indicated hopes for P-E linkages and climate change issues to be as well understood in the near future.

The Secretary of State for International Development of Norway described how PEI is a fascinating programme to be associated with as it provides tools for governments to deal with very complex problems which are at the heart of the sustainable development challenge. PEI plays an important role in bridging the (widening) gap between people dependent upon natural resources, and policy makers, through in-depth country sectoral and economic analyses that are translated into the language of policy makers. He further commended PEI’s efforts to support governments in tackling issues of planning and cross-sector co-ordination - pointing out that these remain challenging in both developing and developed countries. The success of PEI is manifested by the large demand for its services, this is a testament of that the program works and that it is tackling important policy issues.

The UNDP representative, Anne-Marie Sloth Carlsen, then stressed that post Rio+20, PEI is more relevant than ever as it brings together the three aspects of sustainable development. PEI’s approach in adapting the programme to country specific contexts and of phrasing P-E in economic terms (for example economic losses resulting from unsustainable natural resource management) has proven successful and the initiative has moved on impressively since Ms. Carlsen – then as representative of the Danish Government – discussed the initial design and kick-off of PEI in 2007.

Moving forward, the PEI co-Director Isabell Kempf highlighted the need to work further on a rights based approach including access to water, sanitation and energy for the poor and focusing on distributional aspects of economic growth and development. The PEI will continue to work with governments to demonstrate impact of P-E policies and will also work closely with in-country stakeholders to build their capacity to advocate for the inclusion of P-E linkages in development planning processes.

On Monday February 18, a short session on stakeholder engagement was organized as part of the Major Groups and Stakeholders GREENROOM events. The session was an opportunity for the PEF and PEI Africa to present the work of PEI to about 30 participants from various NGOs and to discuss practical approaches to enhance stakeholder participation in integrated planning and budgeting processes in PEI countries.   

Both events were useful in raising awareness of P-E issues and the feedback received was positive. For more information on opportunities for engaging with PEI, please contact the Poverty-Environment Facility by email to Facility.unpei@unpei.org

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