User guide to tools for environmental integration

IIED produced 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).

2007 - 2009

It's essential to integrate environment into development. 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.

Prior to the publication of this online user guide, there had been little sharing of experience on conducting ‘environmental mainstreaming’ tasks in advocacy, analysis, planning, investment, management and monitoring. In contrast, there was too much untested guidance on how to go about the tasks.

Environmental integration/mainstreaming encompasses 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.

The user guide focused on the tools and tactics (both formal and informal/traditional) that directly help to shape policies, plans and decisions, rather than the wider array of secondary tools applied to implement those decisions (such as market delivery mechanisms and instruments, field management tools).

Such tools might be applied at a range of levels (national, district, community) and by a range of users (government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, the businesses and private sector organisations).

What IIED did

IIED invited partner organisations in 10 developing countries in different regions of the world to undertake country surveys. These comprised a mix of literature review, semi-structured interviews, focus group meetings, round tables and workshops.

This led to an issue paper on 'The challenges of environmental mainstreaming: experience of integrating environment into development institutions and decisions', synthesising the lessons from the country surveys and other experience.

The user-driven approach means the user guide includes 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 was that environmental mainstreaming capacity would be much stronger if stakeholders were able to select appropriate tools and methods. The initiative identified which tools work best, for what purpose and for which user. 

Project objectives

The initiative was 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 was supported by Irish Aid and DFID.

The international stakeholders panel comprised a mix of decision-makers and practitioners in government, business, development assistance and civil society  faced with the task of linking environment and development interests.

The panel’s work helped people to make more informed choices, whether they were working on internationally recognised initiatives such as Millennium Development Goal-based national strategies, or national budgetary processes, or local level plans. It also informed 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 was more empowered stakeholders, able to develop a stronger change strategy in their own circumstances.

Additional resources

A dedicated website was set up to provide a hub for the project and to allow people to contribute directly to the work: