Linking Poverty Reduction and Environmental Sustainability

24 Jul 2013

imageA settlement next to a mining site

Yerevan, 24 July 2013 - In order to address development challenges in Armenia, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and UNDP introduced a joint Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) programme, which aims to contribute to poverty reduction and improved well-being of poor and vulnerable groups through inclusion of environmental issues into national development processes.

In Armenia, sectors like mining and agriculture were considered to be important engines of growth during the last decades. At the same time, significant degradation of natural resources and a high level of pollution were recorded in the country. It became evident that the current model of economic development in Armenia, based on over-exploitation and degradation of natural capital, combined with lack of economic diversification, constitutes a challenge for ensuring sustainable economic development and social equity.

The main objective of the PEI is to equip decision-makers and other stakeholders in the country with tools and methodologies, such as the Ecosystem Services Valuation Approach (ESA), to integrate poverty reduction and environmental sustainability linkages into existing decision-making processes, plans and budgets.

Under PEI, Armenia has already started implementation of a technical assistance project. Today, the interim consultation workshop was held in Yerevan to present project progress achieved so far, exchange experience, gain a better understanding of various approaches and discuss opportunities and challenges during the project implementation process.

“The concepts of growth and sustainability are a major thrust of UNDP activities in Armenia.  We attach high importance to this project as it will allow us to equip all relevant stakeholders with practical tools and assess actual impact of economic activities on ecosystems and human health. This new approach will allow us to avoid major disagreements and disputes observed in Armenia over economic interventions in various mining projects,” said Sophie Kemkhadze, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative a.i. in Armenia.  She stressed that the workshop provides an opportunity to better design a proper methodology for the economic valuation of selected ecosystem services - as an innovative tool - linking poverty oriented economic development with environmental sustainability.

PEI is a global joint UNDP – UNEP initiative supporting country-level efforts to mainstream environmental management into national and sub-national planning processes through financial and technical assistance and capacity development.

More information on PEI is available at http://www.unpei.org/.