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The Poverty-Environment Nexus:. How the Nexus impacts policy. WHY.

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the poverty environment nexus

The Poverty-Environment Nexus:

How the Nexus impacts policy

  • Traditional political philosophy has focused on issues of liberal egalitarianism (social justice/inequality) within the confines of the state, not the entire population of the world. Global actors today are seeking practical ways to close the ‘gap’ at the global level. Understanding the nexus can inform practical methods.
  • “Although there is a considerable body of research of the links between poverty and environment, perhaps too little attention has been given to politics” – Reducing Poverty and Sustaining the Environment: The Politics of Local Engagement
what is the nexus
What is the NEXUS

In 2003 two publications are epitomes of the nexus:

  • David Satterwaith: The Links between Poverty and the Environment in Urban Areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America

… there is little evidence of urban poverty being a significant contributor to environmental degradation but strong evidence that urban environmental hazards are major contributors to urban poverty… environmental degradation is more associated with the consumption patterns of middle- and upper-income groups and the failure of governments to implement effective environmental policies

the same year
The Same Year:

Jack M. Hollander gives the other side of the nexus in: The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment’s Number One Enemy.

how the nexus has evolved
How the Nexus has Evolved
  • History of environment in policy:
  • Prior to United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in July 1972, environmental issues were not a part of most national policies. For example in the Treaty of Rome (1958) there was no mention of the environment. - McCormick, 368.
where is the nexus now
Where is the Nexus Now?
  • The new paradigm is that poverty and the environment are perceived as dependant, albeit in different ways by different institutions and regimes. The Millennium Goals (wherein poverty reduction and sustainable development hold the first and seventh spot respectively) occur in most of the recent literature.
how to deal with the nexus at the global level
How to deal with the Nexus at the Global Level
  • Nicolas J. Lucas argues that greater cooperation among organizations and individuals working in the field of human development, poverty reduction and ecosystem management should be the objective of a range of actors in the field. This range of actors includes international NGO’s such as Oxfam, WWF, IISD, IIED and IUCN; local NGO’s; governmental representatives; international agencies like the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, WHO and FAO; and donors.
the united nations
  • The UNDP (UN Development Program) and UNEP (UN Environment Program) address the poverty-environment nexus in initiatives at global, regional and national levels. In 2010 the UN published an evaluative report on contributions to environmental management for poverty reduction: the poverty environment nexus. However in this report itself it states: “poverty [is] one of the greatest threats to the environment, stating: “In poor countries, poverty often causes… poor sanitation and polluted and unsafe water.”
  • Need to be careful. As quoted on the 3rd slide Satterwaith argues that the misconception that poverty causes environmental degradation can lead to ‘anti-poor policies’.
a non uniform conception of the nexus
A Non-Uniform Conception of the Nexus
  • Further, the report states that despite the recognition of a poverty-environment ‘nexus’ the articulation of this awareness is uneven and somewhat haphazard throughout the organization. “At regional and headquarter levels, the understanding of the nexus… is rarely translated into a consistent articulation of principles and practices in strategies or guidance.” The report also states that there is a lack of cross-sectoral initiatives in national offices.
problems with the mdgs
Problems with the MDGs
  • At the Global level, Patrick Bond finds the following weaknesses in campaigns such as the MDGs: they were generated non-transparently by the UN; itself moving since the early 2000s to embrace the Washington Consensus and co-operate with the World Bank, to ‘bluewash’ the world’s largest corporations with its Global Compact, to endorse ‘Type 2’ public-private partnership privitization strategies, to condone US militarism and to reject even elementary democratic reform. He states that the main decisions at summits have been biased against poor people, workers and the environment.
  • PREM (Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management) is a project which is an extension of the CREED programme based in Amsterdam that addresses the role of policy in the poverty-environment nexus in developing countries.
  • “The main objective of CREED programme was to strengthen developing countries capacity to undertake… research and policy analysis on environmental and natural resource management issues.” –
private sector
  • A possible beacon of light
case study
  • World Bank Funded Slum Sanitation Programme in Mumbai: Participatory Approach and Lessons Learnt
summary of lessons learnt
Summary of Lessons Learnt
  • Mumbai’s Slum Sanitation Programme that seeks community responsibility and its involvement in the setting up of sanitation facilities in living areas holds out important lessons for similar organizations and affected communities. While such a broadly participartory approach ensures the accrual of benefits to the beneficiaries, it can only function effectively if methods of implementation are transparent and key members play a facilitating role.

– RN SHARMA, AmitaBhide

comparative literature review
Comparative Literature Review
  • Michael:
  • Amanda:
  • Mary:
  • Lucy:
book for poster
Book for Poster:
  • Reducing Poverty and Sustaining the Environment: the politics of Local Engagement