Integrating the environment into poverty measures to influence policy

Authors Directorate, E.S.P.A.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


Failure to consider and properly measure the relationship between the environment, human wellbeing and poverty constrains the design of effective development policies. An initiative funded by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme examined how multidimensional measures of poverty can better capture the importance of the environment for human wellbeing. Key messages of this impact story are:

  • Nature plays many important roles in people’s wellbeing – fulfilling basic needs such as access to food, clean air and water, enhancing physical and mental health, and contributing to people’s sense of self and belonging.
  • Multidimensional poverty measures currently encompass social and economic dimensions, but fail to adequately capture environmental considerations. ESPA research looked at how these measures can be expanded to fully include the role played by nature in relation to human wellbeing.
  • In Rwanda and Malawi, the project worked with the United Nations Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) to inform policy thinking on environmental and development measures. The project looked at how these measures could be incorporated in national statistics and reporting, to support governments’ efforts to achieve and monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).