Perceptions of environmental mainstreaming and needs

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Perceptions of environmental mainstreaming, and needs, vary considerably amongst different groups of actors. It is not just that developmental interests have been ‘wrong’ or ‘neglectful’ about environment; also [9] For example, codes of practice for horticulture and floriculture now have reasonable social chapters
29 environmental interests have inadequately understood development needs and dynamics, or engaged constructively with them. Politically ‘hot’ overarching policy issues such as security, macro-economic policy, employment, climate change and ‘low-carbon growth’ – where there are clear links to environment – can be the best entry points. There is a wide range of environmental mainstreaming experience and lessons from them all that have only just started to be combined – the current paper is an initial attempt. Those lessons are going to be critically important in an increasingly fragile, interconnected world.
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31 The Challenges of Environmental Mainstreaming Constraints to mainstreaming – entrenched governance problems: Several constraints make it difficult to mainstream environment into development decisions and institutions, notably: The prevailing development paradigm, which treats environment as an institutional and economic ‘externality’; Lack of data, information, skills and institutional capacity to work on environment-development links; Weak environmental mainstreaming initiatives to date to act as a precedent; Lack of political will for change. Catalysts for mainstreaming – entry points and drivers: With such constraints, it is all the more important to identify ‘entry points’ which offer a better chance of tackling these constraints and getting environment on the development agenda, and ‘drivers’ with the vision, incentives and resources to act. These may be at national, sectoral or decentralised levels. The ‘entry points’ are often key points in mainstream policy and planning cycles, particularly those concerning safeguards, prioritization and investment choices. Some of the more effective ‘drivers’ may be from within the mainstream itself (finance and planning ministries where these are concerned about critical prioritisation questions of budget and policy), but are increasingly also specific initiatives aimed at better use of the environment (e.g. PES and REDD). Environment institutions on their own are not often effective drivers. Making the choices: A norm seems to have developed where environmental mainstreaming concentrates on the national development plan or equivalent. Such plans do have, in theory, the comprehensive coverage required to handle the range of environmental issues, multi-stakeholder processes, and links to key formal decision-makers. But, even in countries where the national plan is indeed a driver of development, there are several choices that need to be made about mainstreaming: To work with government authorities – or non- government drivers of development?

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