1. For thousands of years, Buriganga River has been the lifeline of the city of Dhaka, in Bangladesh. This river nourishes one of the most densely populated cities of the world before falling into the Bay of Bengal.

    Today, a short vessel trip will reward any visitor with a sad landscape. Strong unbearable odor, black water and floating waste. Indiscriminate dumping of solid and toxic waste by industries and households have made the Buriganga one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

    The riverbank inhabitants are contracting water born infections and skin diseases. Besides, due to pollution and climate change, the river flow has been shrinking.

    The Government of Bangladesh realized the river pollution was having a high economic cost. The river could not be used as a transport route and diseases contracted by inhabitants had to be treated.

    This was enough to launch a multi million project to clean the Buriganga river.

    Since 2008, Dhaka Water authority is working to bring water from Jamuna river, to increase the water flow. Besides, the government is working to remove all the solid waste accumulated in the riverbed.

    The Poverty-Environment Initiative is providing technical support to the Water authority to ensure the project is undertaken in an environmental friendly way, that it includes local communities and that infrastructure built resists climate change. In other words, to make sure the project is Sustainable and fair.

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  3. Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of Climate Change. The impacts of Climate Change affect all economic sectors. The Government will thus have to invest big amounts of money in adaptation or mitigation activities.

    In 2011, the Poverty-Environment Initiative supported the Government of Bangladesh to undertake a Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review. This exercise allows analyzing how much the Government is already spending to address Climate Change. It includes creating a Climate budget code to trace any public spending related to adaptation or mitigation activities.

    Undertaking a Climate Public Expenditure Review allowed the Government of Bangladesh to draw attention to the required levels of investment in different sectors, to reveal some important trends and gaps. As well to ensure money spent to adapt or mitigate Climate Change is allocated the best way.

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  4. During the last decade, Bangladesh's stable economic growth has managed to lift millions of people out of poverty.

    However, the environment has taken a heavy toll, inequalities have increased, and the country has appeared to be highly vulnerable to climate change. New challenges include the melting of the Himalayas, changing rainfall patterns, increased floods and cyclones, pollution, sea level rise and a decrease in agricultural production.

    Among all the population, the poor are the most vulnerable and affected by these changes.

    The United Nations Poverty-Environment Initiative works with the National Planning Commission to reverse environmental degradation in a way that benefits the poor and allows sustainable economic development.

    One of its key achievements has been to ensure government's procedures and development strategies promote this new direction of development.

    For instance, to be financed, projects proposed by all Ministries now need to perform well on a series of sustainability and fairness indicators. This includes the % of poor people that benefit from the project, its impact on natural resources or the resistance of infrastructure to climate change.
    Besides, government officials that propose these projects are being trained to design sustainable interventions. Training topics vary from the value of mangroves to the economy to concrete examples of climate adaptation measures such as coastal afforestation with community participation.

    To see change on the ground, technical support is provided to improve 28 ongoing government projects in agriculture; water, transport and rural development that have been selected for the groundbreaking way they reverse environmental degradation, while reducing poverty and improving climate resilience. Once improved, these projects can be replicated all over Bangladesh.

    One of these projects is located in Sunamgonj district. Over the last decade, communities from Sunamgonj district had suffered from a dramatic drop in fish stocks, increased floods and a decrease in agricultural production.

    This was enough for the local government-engineering department to launch a multi million project to improve the community's ability to manage natural resources. The project established safe breeding spaces for fish such as cages and small-protected areas close to forest swamps. This was coupled with the construction of environmentally friendly roads resistant to natural hazards that would improve the access of communities to local markets, education and sanitation. Lastly, the project also helped communities to access credit to invest in agriculture.

    PEI provided technical support to make sure the project was resilient to climate change, green and fair. This included recommendations to improve the water management system, to introduce crops resistant to climate change, and to increase floating gardens and fish cage culture.

    Today, fish stocks have drastically increased and like Abdul Mazid's family, the livelihood of another 100,000 households has been improved.

    The Government of Bangladesh can be considered a pioneer in the region for its commitment to support quality sustainable development projects. And for the way it has trained people that take development decisions to build a sustainable future for Bangladesh.

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  5. Bhutan, a small mountainous country nestled in the Himalayas, is a global leader in environmentally sustainable development. Its social, economic, political and spiritual foundations are rooted in the idea of Gross National Happiness. This means it strives towards equitable socio-economic development, preservation of culture, conservation of the environment and good governance.

    Towards this end, The United Nations Development Programme’s Poverty-Environment Initiative in Bhutan helps to ensure that environmentally sustainable considerations remain an integral part of the country’s national development plans. The programme “provides an ideal platform for creating enabling conditions for achieving poverty reduction and environmental sustainability,” says Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi, Minister of Labour and Human Resources.

    Bhutan is committed to carbon neutrality, and environmental considerations are enshrined into its Constitution, including a requirement that the country preserve 60 percent of its land as forest.

    This short movie provides a snapshot of what the “greening” of its national plan means for the country.

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The Poverty-Environment Initiative in Asia Pacific

PEI Asia Pacific

The UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) in Asia Pacific works to green development plans and budgets to make sustainable development real.

Despite the region's rapid economic growth, extreme poverty and hunger affects at least 10 percent…

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The UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) in Asia Pacific works to green development plans and budgets to make sustainable development real.

Despite the region's rapid economic growth, extreme poverty and hunger affects at least 10 percent of families living in-Asia Pacific. Many of these women and men have their livelihoods closely linked to the environment and natural resources -in marginal dry land areas, upland forests, coastal areas and urban squatter settlements. These households are already vulnerable to climate variability and this will worsen with climate change.

Unfortunatly, these linkages between poverty, environment and climate are currently not well understood and are not part of mainstream decision-making. As a result, sustainable management of natural resources is not a high priority, resulting in resources loss and degradation.

PEI seeks to address this challenge by providing technical and financial support towards economic and environment assessments of country specific links between the environment, climate, poverty and economic development to recommend policy options and ways to change public and private investments. These recommendations are then integrated into planning and budgeting processes and economic decision-making at national and subnational level.

The Poverty-Environment Initiative is a joint UNDP-UNEP global programme operating in over 20 countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe. The Asia Pacific PEI team started developing country programmes in 2008 which are now underway in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Lao PDR, Nepal and Philippines. The programme is funded by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

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