Environment and natural resource management

Learning note

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This Note relates to KSF5: Risks and Sustainability
Version: January 2008

Core issues

Investments that exploit technical opportunities for environmental improvement and sustainability by promoting better protection, conservation or management of natural resources will enhance the delivery of environmental services by communities. Impact will often depend on measures to improve community access to, and local control over, the resource base. For common property resources or nature reserve projects, joint management or full transfer of management and usufruct from public sector bodies to beneficiaries may be a central issue. Core issues for environment-related investment plans and components are needs to:

  • Optimise local control over, and access to, natural resources via gender-sensitive participatory mechanisms – e.g. through group sharing and exchange of knowledge, communal decision-making processes, publicised risk assessments, community monitoring and evaluation of natural resource use and trends.
  • Address identified constraints to adoption of improved/more sustainable practices for natural resource management (NRM), distinguishing between needs of women, men and other target groups.
  • Boost the transfer of pro-poor environmental and NRM technologies using participatory advisor-client relationships and participatory extension - see  Learning Notes 3.1 - Technology Change for Livelihood Development and 4.3 - Rural Technical Support Services.
  • Provide support and incentives for those forms of community-based natural resource use and management that ensure long term sustainability.
  • Enhance technical, legal and institutional capacities to address negative externalities including off-site and boundary effects; also to help beneficiaries mitigate any potential adverse impacts associated with project interventions, and to ease constraints on their adoption of environment-friendly, sustainable practices.
  • Encourage positive synergies with existing/ongoing strategic NRM frameworks as set out in national poverty reduction strategies (PRSPs) and environmental action plans (NAPs, NEAPs), as well as other projects and programmes.
  • Where appropriate, exploit opportunities to promote the use of environment-friendly agricultural technologies such as organic fertilizers and alternative pest control techniques including integrated pest management; and promote global environmental issues addressed by GEF and/or UNCCD (the latter may involve the inclusion of project components which address the objectives of UNCCD or are eligible for GEF funding).

Key tasks for design and review

Design of environmental projects and components should be based on an Environmental Screening and Scoping (ESS) exercise, which can be funded from PDFF resources. President’s Bulletin 94/03 and its attached Operating Statements should be followed; Environmental Screening and Scoping Notes (ESSNs) should follow IFAD’s Administrative Procedures for Environmental Assessment, Doc 4-1.

Design and review teams will need to:

  • Demonstrate the links between poverty and environmental degradation and show that the proposed investments will address these links.
  • Develop and agree with natural resource users, other stakeholders and the borrower sustainable and practical solutions to solve or avoid conflicts over land use and resource access. Solutions are likely to feature initiatives for co-management or user-based resource management that are development-oriented, people-centred, and which reflect traditional/indigenous approaches and include an understanding of those factors that facilitate successful collective action and deliver environmental benefits and services.
  • Identify any legal or regulatory constraints to the application of the above initiatives; propose remedial actions to the borrower and agree how, by whom and by when resolution will be achieved.
  • Focus the attention of environmental support services on capacity building to reduce disparities in the environmental protection/management capacities of target groups.
  • Promote conservation measures or NRM technology that can combine environmental benefits with improved economic growth and security for the target group - or at least not undermine them.
  • Give close attention to design & operation of environmental monitoring and evaluation systems, including risk assessment. Include site-specific, impact-oriented and easily verifiable environmental indicators in Key Files.
  • Ensure that project budgets include all costs associated with the environmental mitigation measures and supporting actions that are proposed.

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