Achieving the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and eradication of poverty will be more daunting if governments do not introduce environmentally friendly policies and make ample budgetary allocations toward the cause.
The Minister for Natural Resources, Vincent Biruta, who was opening a five-day regional meeting organised under the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), said governments need to create better policies and sustainably allocate budget in the context of SDGs.
PEI is a joint poverty environment initiative by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that is operational in nine African countries, including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Around 70 representatives from those countries’ PEI programmes are meeting to discuss the progress made in mainstreaming poverty-environment objectives in development planning and budgeting processes at national and sub-national levels and how these bring about environmental sustainability.
“The efforts and shared experience (by experts present) will accelerate sustainable environment and development by enhancing poverty- environment initiatives,” Biruta said.
According to David Smith, the PEI Africa director, the initiative offers technical support, economic evidence on how poverty can be reduced through environmental conservation, however, according to him, all those would not be applicable if there was no good governance at the national level.
“We also have to discuss how PEI can support SDGs implementation starting from SDG1 and 17 as our approach. The targets will need to be prioritised, consistent with national economic, social and environmental challenges in order to end poverty.
“To implement them, we need integrated approaches and its capacity building, financing and generate high level political economy support, focus on budget allocations, donor mobilisation, among others”, Smith said.
Minister Biruta said the target for such meetings is to build climate resilience and shape financing mechanism to manage water, mining, land, deforestation, climate change whereby imbalance between these and population grow must be overcome.
Isabelle Kempf, the PEI coordirector, said it’s time to show what can be done for SDGs implementation through harmonised policies, integrating stakeholders to catalyse such efforts that entail poverty dimensions.
Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the director-general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority, said PEI Africa in the first phase in 2005 helped Rwanda to mainstream environment into national planning and was involved in building green village model of Muyebe in Muhanga District.
The support also facilitated studies on how Rugezi wetland encroachment in the Northern Province had led to a loss of 20 megawatts in hydro electricity among other key findings.
According to Rasmane Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso, the key lessons from Rwanda included the green village initiative and the establishment of the National Environment and Climate Fund.