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

About the Project

In 2007, The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) launched an initiative to produce a User Guideto approaches (tools, methods and tactics) for mainstreaming (or integrating) environment into development decision-making (environmental mainstreaming), steered by an International Stakeholders Panel.


Explanation of key terms


Environmental mainstreaming / integration

Understanding of what environmental mainstreaming (or integration) means or entails varies considerably. In this initiative, we take these two terms to mean the same thing - encompassing the process(es) by which environmental considerations are brought to the attention of organisations and individuals involved in decision-making on the economic, social and physical development of a country (at national, sub-national and/or local levels), and the process(es) by which environment is considered in taking those decisions.



A variety of approaches can be used to carry out the above processes. They include:

  • broad tactics (ways of raising issues and making a case/getting heard);
  • specific instruments, technical tools and analytical methods (eg for gathering information, planning and monitoring);
  • methods for consultation and engaging stakeholders; and also

a range of more informal, voluntary and indigenous approaches.



The focus is on those approaches which directly help to shape policies, plans and decisions; NOT the wider array of secondary tools applied to implement those decisions (eg market delivery mechanisms and instruments, field management tools). Such approaches might be applied at a range of levels (e.g. national, district, community) and by a range of users (government, non-governmental and community-based organisations, the businesses and private sector organisations).

IIED’s contention is that environmental mainstreaming capacity will be much stronger if stakeholders are able to select appropriate tools, methods and tactics. Some of these are widely used and others still in development; some are easy to do and others demanding of skills and money; some are effective but others are not. Too many approaches are being ‘pushed’ by outside interests, and too few locally developed (and more informal, or less expensive) approaches are widely known. There is not enough ‘demand-pull’ information from potential users. Neither is there enough information available that helps them to select the right approaches themselves – as opposed to taking what others want or suggest/promote.

This initiative set out to identify which approaches work best, for what purpose and for which user.  Ten regional and country-based survey and dialogues with stakeholders/users were undertaken by partner organisations. Each used a standard questionnaire to structure consultations, workshops, focus group sessions and individual interviews.

But during the country surveys, it proved harder than originally envisaged to secure focused user perspectives on particular approaches/tools. In general, respondents were more exercised on issues of context – drivers and constraints to mainstreaming, rather than the ins and outs of individual tools. As a result it was difficult to achieve the original intention of identifying the most favoured approaches/tools. Despite this, the survey work revealed rich information on institutional and contextual challenges which represent a major issue in the struggle to achieve environmental mainstreaming. IIED has synthesized this learning in a new Issues Paper.

As a follow-up, IIED has now linked up with a range of international organizations and initiatives and development cooperation agencies to launch the Environmental Mainstreamingin Development Initiative - a three-year (2009-2012) process of participatory enquiry and preparation of supporting materials including a Sourcebook on Environmental Mainstreaming.

Project Document

Download the project document as a word document:


Copyright 2007 IIED