Developing capacity to support the integration of environmental data into multidimensional poverty indicators for improved poverty measurement and alleviation

Although the importance of the natural environmental to human wellbeing and poverty has long been recognised, there has been limited integration of environmental considerations into poverty measures and alleviation strategies. As a result, current measures of multidimensional poverty do not include environmental aspects. In previous work, the researchers had been tackling this issue on two fronts: initially reviewing the conceptual and philosophical basis for including environmental considerations into concepts of wellbeing and poverty; and subsequently attempting to determine how environmental data may be included in multidimensional poverty approaches, such as the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). This project advanced these efforts in two African countries, to assess how to integrate environmental and social poverty data at the country level, and link findings to the United Nations Development Programme to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-UNDP) Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) and their new strategic plan.

The opportunity of this impact project was provided by the ESPA grant ‘Ecosystem Services as a Missing Dimension of Poverty’ – which primarily worked on the conceptual and theoretical aspects of environment-adjusted poverty indices. During that project, one short mission was undertaken to Rwanda together with the Poverty Environment Initiative, which outlined the potential work that could be done.  By opening dialogue with the Poverty Environment Initiative – and through shared meetings in the UK and follow up meetings in Nairobi (with the United Nations Environment Programme) and New York (with the United Nations Development Programme) a clear opportunity for further joint work emerged, as the Poverty Environment Initiative was also developing its new strategic plan for 2018 onwards.  The project team took the opportunity provided by this ESPA impact grant to work with the Poverty Environment Initiative to influence their work, which has a direct link into the UN system and the work of the Sustainable Devolpment Goals (SDGs) in the linkage area of poverty and environment.

During the course of the ESPA impact project the researchers worked closely together with in-country Poverty Environment Initiative staff, fostering ownership and increasing the impact scope. During this project, Nicole Gross-Camp, Judith Schleicher and Marije Schaafsma conducted field trips to Rwanda and Malawi to assess stakeholders’ perceptions and the opportunities for closer environment-poverty integrations by holding meetings and/or focus groups discussions at national and village level. Moreover, Neil Burgess and Bhaskar Vira engaged with United Nations Environment Programme Poverty Environment Initiative (UNEP-PEI) offices and staff in Nairobi – both on visits by Poverty Environment Initiative staff to the UK and a visit by Neil Burgess to the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi. Through other United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitor Centre (UNEP-WCMC) staff we also attended high level meetings of the Sustainable Development Goals in New York and developed close linkages between the project team, and the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitor Centre, with the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) in New York, and some of the key United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Environment Programme staff involved with the development and roll out of indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals to further enhance impact. These impacts are all likely to lead to new work along the lines of the ESPA impact project and further consideration of the environment within poverty discussions in the Sustainable Development Goal's context. The Poverty Environment Initiative programmed in funding for the same time to help work with them in Tanzania in 2018.

Lead Principal Investigator
Organisation: UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
Country: United Kingdom