User Guide to tools for environmental integration

Project

IIED has launched an initiative to produce an online 'User Guide' to approaches (tools, methods and tactics) for mainstreaming (or integrating) the environment into development decision-making (referred to as environmental mainstreaming).

The challenge to integrate environment into development has never been more urgent. Infrastructure and agriculture must be climate-proofed. Industry must be energy- and water-efficient. Poor people’s environmental deprivations must be tackled in development activity. Their environmental rights must be recognised and supported. Environmental institutions need to work more closely together with other institutions – for too many of which the environment is treated as an externality.

Change will be slow without adequate stakeholder pressure to link institutions and learning from experience of ‘what works’ for environmental mainstreaming. There has been little sharing of experience on conducting ‘environmental mainstreaming’ tasks in advocacy, analysis, planning, investment, management, and monitoring. In contrast, there is too much untested guidance on how to go about the tasks.

Explanation of key terms

Environmental integration / mainstreaming

These two terms mean the same thing. In this project they encompass the process(es) by which environmental considerations are brought to the attention of organisations and individuals involved in decision-making on the economic, social and physical development of a country (at national, sub-national and/or local levels), and the process(es) by which environment is considered in taking those decisions.

Tools

Instruments, methods and tactics that are used (individually or in combination) to carry out the above processes to take environment into consideration in decision-making , eg. approaches for providing information, assessment, consultation, analysis, planning, and monitoring so as to inform decision

The focus of the User Guide will be on those tools and tactics (both formal and informal/traditional) which directly help to shape policies, plans and decisions; NOT the wider array of secondary tools applied to implement those decisions (eg market delivery mechanisms and instruments, field management tools). Such tools might be applied at a range of levels (eg national, district, community) and by a range of users (government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, the businesses and private sector organisations).

An initial phase of country surveys is currently underway in different regions of the world, led by partner organisations - in the Caribbean, Chile, India, Kenya, Philippines, and South Africa. Others surveys are being planned.

These surveys are gathering on-the-ground user perspectives about the challenges tool users face, their needs related to integrating tools and tactics, and which tools they use and value, and why; and which ones they avoid.

In a second phase in 2008, a User Guide to the top tools and tactics will be developed.

The user-driven approach means that the User Guide is likely to include an expanded set of tools and approaches, beyond those that tend to be emphasised by technical experts, e.g. those used for civil society/business action.

IIED’s contention is that environmental mainstreaming capacity will be much stronger if stakeholders are able to select appropriate tools and methods. Some tools and methods are widely used and others still in development; some are easy to do and others demanding of skills and money; some are effective but others are not. Too many tools are being ‘pushed’ by outside interests, and too few locally developed (and more informal, or less expensive) approaches are widely known. There is not enough ‘demand-pull’ information from potential users. Neither is there enough information available that helps them to select the right tools themselves – as opposed to taking what others want or suggest/promote.

The initiative will aim to identify which tools work best, for what purpose and for which user. The guidance will be based on evidence submitted through the regional and country-based stakeholder/user consultations and workshops, interviews and questionnaire surveys, and the Panel’s own experience.

This guide will cover the large array of tools and methods available for ‘environmental mainstreaming’, building on stakeholders’ experiences of the range from technical approaches such as EIA to more political approaches such as citizens’ juries.

The project process will offer three products:

(a) A core of about 30 tools will be profiled and reviewed according to common criteria.

(b) A guide to choosing tools for specific tasks - to help users select the approach that is right for particular problems or tasks.

(c) An overview of areas for which all tools tend to be weak or missing will also be prepared, to guide further tool development.

Project objectives

In response, IIED has begun an initiative to produce a ‘User Guide’ to environmental mainstreaming, steered by an international Stakeholders Panel. The initiative is based on discussions at meetings of the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP) in 2006 and 2007, with a range of developing country stakeholders and PEP members, and following a first meeting of a project Working Group in London in March 2007. IIED’s preliminary work has been supported by Irish Aid and DFID.

The international Stakeholders Panel will comprise a mix of decision-makers and practitioners in government, business, development assistance and civil society who are faced with the task of linking environment and development interests. The initial task for this Panel will be to steer and oversee the production of a ‘User Guide’ to the large array of tools and methods available for ‘environmental mainstreaming’, building on stakeholders’ experiences of the range from technical approaches such as EIA to more political approaches such as citizens’ juries.

Our contention, reinforced through several consultations to date, is that environmental mainstreaming capacity will be much stronger if stakeholders are able to select appropriate tools and methods. Some tools and methods are widely used and others still in development; some are easy to do and others demanding of skills and money; some are effective but others are not. Too many tools are being ‘pushed’ by outside interests, and too few locally developed (and more informal, or less expensive) approaches are widely known. There is not enough ‘demand-pull’ information from potential users. Neither is there enough information available that helps them to select the right tools themselves – as opposed to taking what others want or suggest/promote.

Therefore the initiative will aim to identify which tools work best, for what purpose and for which user. This guidance will be based on evidence submitted through a series of regional and country-based stakeholder/user consultations and workshops, and the Panel’s own experience.

A core of about 30 such tools will be profiled and reviewed according to common criteria. The user-driven approach means that the Guide is likely to include an expanded set of tools and approaches, beyond those that tend to emphasised by technical experts, e.g. those used for civil society/business action. A decision-making ‘tree’ will be offered to help users select the approach that is right for particular problems or tasks. And an overview of areas for which all tools tend to be weak or missing will also be prepared, to guide further tool development.

The Panel’s work will help people to make more informed choices, whether they are working on internationally recognised initiatives such as Millennium Development Goal-based national strategies, or national budgetary processes, or local level plans. It will also inform development assistance agencies, researchers and others who are in the business of tool development and promotion, by offering much-needed ‘demand-side’ information.

The net result of the user-first approach will be more empowered stakeholders, who are able to develop a stronger change strategy in their own circumstances.

Impacts

The results of the first meeting of the project working group have been used to update the project document – this will be further revised, as necessary, as a rolling document. The meeting:

  • focused on the target audience for the User Guide;
  • reviewed a draft typology of tools, highlighting those likely to be ’must have’ in the Guide;
  • identified a range of other initiatives with which to explore to links;
  • considered an approach, with a framework of questions, for country surveys and workshops
  • discussed ways to present the Guide and associated information;
  • made recommendations on the role of the International Panel.

Project links

A dedicated website has been set up as a home to learn much more about the project and to allow people to contribute directly to the work: www.environmental-mainstreaming.org

Publications

First draft of IIED Guide to Environmental Mainstreaming available for comment

For details of this initiative, see User Guide proposal document

 

 

Contact

Comments and suggestions should be sent to: UserGuide@iied.org