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Development Account Projects

Enabling sustainable and resilient development in post-crisis countries by mainstreaming environment and risk reduction into development planning

Background:

Countries affected by disasters and conflict often face considerable challenges inreturning to a stable development trajectory and achieving a semblance of normalcy. Such contexts are characterized by a sense of urgency and intense political pressures to reconstruct destroyed infrastructure and restore lost development gains. This development rush to restore basic services, livelihoods and economic activity is generally given higher priority than ensuring sustainable development and meeting requirements for sound environmental management. New development activities in the context of post-crisis reconstruction efforts, for instance, can potentially exacerbate, create or recreate vulnerabilities to disasters.

In a post-conflict or post-disaster context, hundreds of development projects are often proposed simultaneously. An environmental impact assessment, which is conventionally applied to ensure that new development does not have adverse environmental impacts, can be delayed considerably (and last more than two years), leading to public pressure to override standard controls. It is therefore critical that a technically sound decision-making tool that facilitates the implementation of development projects while not compromising environmental sustainability or increasing local vulnerabilities to conflicts or disasters be made available to policymakers.

UNEP and UNDP have modified a tool used in sustainable development planning, the strategic environmental assessment approach, by integrating conflict and disaster sensitivities into the analytical framework. The approach was pilot-tested during the biennium 2010-2011 in Sri Lanka to establish a development framework for the Northern Province. Through the engagement of national and local government agencies, universities, the private sector and the general public, the integrated strategic environmental assessment mapped out the distribution of space and resources available for development with a minimum of environmental and disaster-related constraints (the so-called “opportunity map”). This led to the improvement of a number of infrastructure plans and development proposals and to the political endorsement of the approach at the highest level as a primary regional area development tool.

The case of Sri Lanka suggests that an approach that enables countries to promote area development that is both sustainable and disaster-resilient has the potential to be promoted in other post-crisis contexts as an integrated development planning tool. The approach will be further implemented in Côte d’Ivoire and Myanmar, two countries that are on the threshold of rapid development after decades of stagnation. Once the integrated strategic environmental assessment is replicated in the two target countries, there will be sufficient knowledge and experience, which could be further documented and disseminated as best practice in terms of integrated strategic environmental assessments for post-conflict and disaster-prone countries, including through advocacy efforts with regional organizations.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of selected post-conflict and disaster-prone countries to rapidly initiate development and reconstruction activities while maintaining sustainable development and resilience, through the implementation of integrated strategic environmental assessments

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced capacities of selected target countries to apply integrated strategic environmental assessments and integrate environmental, conflict and disaster-risk considerations into post-crisis development planning
  • Integrated strategic environmental assessments more widely implemented and disseminated in other post-crisis countries through strengthened partnerships in the African and Asian regions and South-South cooperation

Implementation status:

In progress.