IIED logo


Environmental Mainstreaming
Integrating environment into development institutions and decisions

Main Menu
Environment Inside
Goals and Challenges
Environmental Mainstreaming in Development Initiative
Issue Paper

Country Learning Groups and Surveys

Conferences, Workshops and Events
Key Literature
User Guide Project (2008-2008)
Contact Us
Poverty Environment Partnership
Archive content from the NSSD website


Environment Inside - 1. Purpose of EM



  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Why do we need to’ mainstream’ the environment?
  • 1.3 What is environmental mainstreaming?
  • 1.4 Who should be concerned about environmental mainstreaming?
  • 1.4.1 The actors in environmental mainstreaming and their
  • 1.4.2 Responses and international mandates for environmental


    The case for ‘Environmental Mainstreaming’

    The economy and society are intimately dependent upon the health of the environment:

    • Environmental assets – e.g. fertile soils, clean water, biomass and biodiversity – yield income, offer safety nets for the poor, maintain public health, and drive economic growth.
    • Conversely, environmental hazards – e.g. pollution, environmental damage, and climate change – all threaten livelihoods and development.
    • Poor people are especially dependent on environmental assets and vulnerable to hazards.
    • But environmental and developmental institutions and decisions tend to be separate, which results in environment being viewed as a set of problems rather than potentials.

    Environmental mainstreaming – integrating environment into development decisions and institutions – can help to:

    • Find integrated solutions that avoid ‘development vs. environment’ arguments, institutional tensions, and associated costs – for example:
      • Energy solutions – realising renewable energy potential from biomass, in ways that also ensure that other economic (e.g. food) and environmental (e.g. biodiversity and water) benefits are sustained – i.e. not just blindly turning land over to biofuel crops;
      • Climate change solutions – such as pro-poor schemes in agriculture and forestry that mitigate climate change, attract REDD funds (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation), and also suit local environment and social needs;
      • Land management solutions – such as corporate/community partnerships, pro-poor protected areas and landscape management that conserve biodiversity as well as provide food and livelihoods – i.e. not only depending on government investment in official protected areas.

    • Enable more efficient planning of environmental assets and environmental hazard management – by introducing relevant technical information, identifying scarcities and surpluses, developing alternatives, and streamlining approaches and processes.

    • Support technological innovation that is informed and inspired by nature e.g. ‘biomimicry’ in the design of production and waste treatment systems.

    • Support informed policy debate and formulation on big issues – notably society’s and the economy’s dependence on, use of, impacts on, and alternatives for environmental assets – where environment has too often been an ‘externality’ in ‘mainstream’ policy.

    • In the above ways, improve the productivity, resilience and adaptability of local, sectoral, national and indeed global social and economic systems – reducing the risk of collapses and the need for short-term ‘bail-outs’.


    To achieve these benefits, environmental mainstreaming will be:

    • About collaborationintegration of environment and development interests and ideas, not just environment being ‘forced into’ development.

    • As much a political and institutional change process as a technical one – working directly with politically ‘hot’ overarching policy issues on matters such as security, macro-economic policy, employment, climate change and ‘low-carbon growth’

    • Dependent upon leadership and catalytic organisations to forge the necessary links and processes.

    • A continuing and long-term process, not a one-off ‘project’.

    Resource Menu
    1. Purpose of EM
    2. Policy framework & mandates
    3. Targeting EM
    4. Main EM issues
    5. Challenges
    6. Concepts and principles
    7. Skills and capabilities
    8. Needs assessment
    9. Capacity development
    10. Institutionalising EM
    11. Environment-poverty-development linkages
    12. Outcomes to achieve
    13. Entry points of EM
    14. Country Evidence
    15. Influencing policy processes
    16. Budgeting and financing
    17. Implementing measures
    18. Influencing national monitoring system
    19. Advocating & communicating EM
    20. Stakeholder responsibilities
    21. Monitoring and evaluation
    22. Key steps in EM
    23. Tool Profiles
    24. Key literature
    25. Case materials
    Copyright 2007 IIED