Philippines experiences, lessons and challenges in environmental mainstreaming
With so many of the world’s poorest suffering environmental deprivations, and with the economy experiencing both a squeeze on natural resources and escalating environmental hazards such as climate change, the need to include environment in major poverty reduction and development initiatives has never been so great. But integrating environment and development is not an easy task, when considerable gulfs exist between the respective institutions, policies, knowledge systems and even belief systems. In the Philippines, as in almost every country, environmental management and poverty reduction are considered to be policy priorities. Yet they have been treated as two very separate endeavours, despite the root causes of respective problems being often the same: poor governance and economic policy. This lack of coherence matters: it is not just a question of bureaucratic or intellectual neatness. Poverty-blind environmental action can be damaging – as in the case of people being displaced from protected areas; equally, so can environment-blind poverty reduction initiatives – as in the case of overuse of soils and forests, ‘raiding nature’ for temporary gain.
This report offers a ten-point agenda for improving environmental mainstreaming in the Philippines, to better tackle poverty and improve the sustainability of economic growth. It emphasises work at two levels to change the way that institutions view poverty-environment links and the decisions they make. Firstly, ‘from the bottom’ – a range of actors in local government units working with poor groups to identify best environmental practices that also support poverty reduction. Secondly, linking this to work ‘from the top’ – engaging the central financial, economic and development authorities that set the Philippines Development Plan (PDP), identifying good policies that support local needs and environmental goods and services, at a bigger scale than has been achieved so far.