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REGIONAL SEMINAR ON THE COSTS OF POVERTY IN THE CARIBBEAN MARCH 1719, 2008

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Title: REGIONAL SEMINAR ON THE COSTS OF POVERTY IN THE CARIBBEAN MARCH 1719, 2008


1
REGIONAL SEMINAR ON THE COSTS OF POVERTY IN THE
CARIBBEANMARCH 17-19, 2008
  • ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF POVERTY
  • Prepared by
  • Denise Forrest
  • Principal Consultant Forrest Associates

2
Outline
  • Background
  • Global Perspectives
  • Jamaica (Environment, Poverty Policy
  • Caribbean Region
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendation

3
Background
  • Poverty and environmental degradation are not
    mutually exclusive and indeed it could be
    strongly argued are interrelated.
  • There a few studies which provide empirical date
    on the cost of environmental degradation due to
    poverty.
  • Today it is widely acknowledged that poverty
    results in certain kinds of environmental stress.
  • As the debate has ensued there has also been a
    clear recognition that the major cause of the
    continued deterioration of the global environment
    is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and
    production, particularly in industrialized
    countries, which in itself is a grave cause for
    concern and aggravates global poverty.

4
Background
  • Preserving the environment means safeguarding
    food production, protecting air, land and water
    from contamination, sustaining livelihoods, and
    preserving health.
  • A degraded environment in countries that rely
    heavily on natural resources for their economic
    prosperity (that is. most developing countries)
    actually exacerbates poverty conditions.
  • By and large, the poorest people and the poorest
    countries are the most affected by environmental
    degradation. These people have to eke a living
    from marginal lands, forests, coastal waters or
    the peripheries of urban centers.

5
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6
Background
  • Poverty reduction, economic growth, and the
    maintenance of life-supporting environmental
    resources are closely linked.
  • While the poor may contribute to environmental
    degradation they also suffer from bad
    environmental management and advancing the plight
    of the poor is linked to sound natural resource
    management as these resources provide a stepping
    stone for moving to more sophisticated,
    higher-valued, industries.
  • Therefore there is a clear case for improving
    environmental management hand in hand with
    economic modernization, diversification of income
    opportunities and reducing poverty.
  • Arguably, the cost of environmental degradation
    is increasing poverty.

7
Global Perspective
  • In 1972 in Stockholm Indira Gandhi was quoted as
    saying "Poverty is the biggest polluter" while
    she never precisely used those words the misquote
    has served to initiate a global debate on the
    relationship between poverty, economic growth,
    ecology and environment.
  • In 1987 the Brundtland Report Our Common Future
    was published and described environmental
    degradation as resulting from the growing demand
    on scarce resources and the pollution generated
    by the rising living standards of the relatively
    affluent.

8
Global Perspective
  • Noted in the report that poverty itself pollutes
    the environment, creating environmental stress
    mainly derived from survival issues.
  • The conclusion of the Commission led by
    Brundtland was that the cumulative effect of
    these activities is so far-reaching as to make
    poverty itself a major global scourge.

9
Global Perspective
  • This analysis brought but a change in thinking
    a significant paradigm shift from simply
    dealing with environmental observation and
    protection as a singular issue to one which takes
    on board social an economic considerations.
  • The birth of sustainable development principle
    arena of public policy. (development that meets
    the needs of the present without compromising the
    ability of future generations to meet their own
    needs).
  • SD principle placed the matter of environment and
    poverty at the core of development planning.

10
Global Perspective
  • In 1992 came the development of Agenda 21 as an
    outcome of the first Global Earth Summit
  • At the Summit countries were urged to co-operate
    in the essential task of eradicating poverty as
    an indispensable requirement for sustainable
    development.
  • Agenda 21 provided a framework within which to
    tackle the problems of the environment and its
    inextricable link to poverty recognising the need
    to develop an environmental policy framework that
    went beyond managing the conservation and
    protection of resources but also gives due
    account to those who depend on the resources for
    their livelihoods.
  • The conclusion being that any long term success
    in resource and environmental conservation must
    deal with the issue of poverty. (people)

11
Global Perspective
  • The first conference to translate Agenda 21 into
    a programme for a group of countries came in 1994
    when the first Global Conference on SD of SIDS 
    was convened in Barbados and adopted the BPoA.
  • BPoA sets out specific actions and measures to be
    taken at the national, regional and international
    levels in support of the sustainable development
    of SIDS. It also addressed the matter of human
    development and poverty alleviation. Reinforced
    in by the Mauritius Strategy in 2005.
  • The question can be asked in the context of
    Jamaica and the Caribbean Region -how well has
    the region used the Agenda 21 framework to
    address the issues of the environmental cost of
    poverty?

12
Jamaica - Environment
  • What is the current state of Jamaicas
    environment and has the environmental cost of
    poverty to the country been studied and
    addressed?

13
Jamaica - Environment
14
Jamaica - Environment
  • Deforestation is a critical contributor to
    environmental and land degradation. Approximately
    335, 900 hectares or just over 30 of Jamaica is
    classified as forest. The Forestry Department has
    identified the main causes for forest loss as
    (i) soil erosion, (ii) illegal removal of timber
    or fuel wood, (iii) slash and burn cultivation,
    (iv) illegal fires, and (v) illegal cultivation.
    Many of these causes can be attributed to the
    poor surviving on resources removed from the
    forest.
  • While there may be some anecdotal information on
    soil loss there has been no credible survey on
    soil loss or any evaluation of its impact on soil
    productivity (implications rural poor).
  • The clearing of the slopes for cultivation has
    caused accelerated erosion of the soils. The
    impact in the coastal areas and particularly in
    the coral reefs is very serious due to siltation.

15
Jamaica - Environment
  • Mangrove swamps have been decimated for firewood
    and yam sticks and beaches have been seriously
    affected by sand mining.
  • Unplanned or improperly sited human settlements
    and inadequate infrastructure and services, are
    adding to the stress and increasing instability
    of watersheds and coastal areas.
  • Landslides, flooding, or seasonal drought and
    natural disasters are increasingly in the news,
    adding to loss of life, property, and economic
    potential.

16
Jamaica - Poverty
  • The proportion of persons living on and below the
    poverty line fell from 28.4 per cent of the
    population in 1990 to 16.9 per cent for 2001 (see
    figure below). In reviewing the dimensions of
    poverty in Jamaica the following has been found
    (i) rural poverty was higher then the national
    average and in 2001 was over three times that of
    the Kingston Metropolitan Area

17
Jamaica - Poverty
  • Poverty is evident in rural areas both in terms
    of incidence and prevalence. With regard to
    prevalence, 71.5 of the poor, compared with 51
    of the whole population, resided in the rural
    areas in 2001.
  • The rural poor in Jamaica depend heavily on the
    natural resource base to satisfy their basic
    needs. Poverty has contributed to patterns of
    human behaviour (e.g. slash and burn farming
    methods) which have contributed to increasing
    environmental degradation that is soil erosion,
    flooding, deforestation, water pollution and loss
    of biodiversity, all associated with the
    pressures of rural poverty.
  • Rural poverty has also had negative impacts on
    urban centres as rural poverty has led to an
    increasing rural to urban population drift which
    in turn has spawned several informal communities
    with the inherent health and environmental
    issues.

18
Jamaica - Policy
  • Since 1992, the GOJ has implemented a number of
    discrete initiatives/strategies in relation to
    the implementation of Agenda 21.
  • Medium Term Social and Economic Framework
  • Jamaica National Environmental Action Plan
  • National Poverty Eradication Programme (NPEP)
  • National Land Policy (NLP)
  • Draft Sustainable Rural Development Policy
    document identified five goals (promote growth in
    rural areas while protecting the environment)

19
Jamaica - Policy
  • Sustainable Development Council of Jamaica
    (SDC-J), facilitated by the UNDP under the
    Regional Capacity 21 Project, to mainstream
    sustainable development in public policy.
    Attempted but unsuccessful.
  • SD Unit of the PIOJ was officially launched only
    in 2002. The Units role is to facilitate
    enhanced co-ordination of SD activities, which
    will contribute significantly to the integration
    of economic, social and environmental components
    of SD into mainstream planning and
    decision-making processes.

20
Jamaica - Policy
  • Despite its many efforts there is recognition
    within the GOJ that the approach to the SD agenda
    while well intended has been somewhat fragmented
    and lacking coherence.
  • The official sustainable development strategy is
    yet to be explicitly formulated, although some
    elements of a sustainable development strategy
    are certainly in place.
  • Jamaica has no shortage of policies within those
    policies is the linkage between the environment
    and poverty being fully addressed at the level of
    public policy?
  • It can be vigorously argued that the absence of a
    well articulated SD policy, or indeed an
    environmental policy which effectively addresses
    the issue of the interrelationship between
    environmental degradation and poverty, is a major
    draw back
  • The battle for environmental protection and
    conservation may well be impossible if the issue
    of poverty is not tackled.

21
The Caribbean Region
  • The Caribbean Development Bank in its
    Environmental Policy Statement identified the
    following issues as environmental concerns in the
    Caribbean.
  • Deforestation and watershed degradation
  • Surface and groundwater pollution
  • Degradation of coastal and marine resources
  • Natural hazards

22
The Caribbean Region
  • PRECIS Caribbean Climate Change (February 2008)
    has predicted future changes in Caribbean climate
  • Caribbean will be between 1 to 5 degree
    centigrade warmer by 2080s (annual means)
  • Greater warming for north western Caribbean
    (Cuba, Jamaica, Belize..) than eastern Caribbean
    chain
  • Greater warming in summer months than in cooler
    an traditionally drier earlier months of the year
  • Most of the Caribbean will be up to 25 drier in
    the annual mean by 2080s
  • Model could not tell about sea level rise
  • Impact assessment begun Degradation of coastal
    and marine resources

23
The Caribbean Region
  • Since 1995 the CDB with the assistance of CIDA
    has helped nine countries to conduct a Country
    Poverty Assessment (CPA) to measure and
    characterise poverty.
  • The CPAs have shown that poverty is predominantly
    a rural phenomenon.
  • A consequence of rural poverty is rural urban
    drift. This increases the population of urban
    areas, places a strain on the availability of
    housing and social services and, as a
    consequence, contributes to rising levels of
    urban poverty resulting in the proliferation of
    informal housing, and poor waste management
    practices all of which create environmental
    stress and reduce the quality of the built and
    natural environment.

24
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25
Some Conclusions
  • A review of the issues of environmental
    degradation in Jamaica and the Caribbean has
    found that while there is recognition of the
    interrelationships there is little empirical data
    on the cost to the environment due to poverty.
  • Nevertheless, there is sufficient experiential
    data to establish a link between the two although
    the impact of poverty on the environment remains
    unquantified.
  • In the Caribbean region as is the case for
    several developing countries in the rest of the
    world the natural resource base, along with the
    human and social capital is critical to
    sustainable economic development.
  • At the same time this future development is
    threatened by the degradation of the environment.
    Environmental degradation going unchecked can
    cost countries the hope of a secure economic
    future. In fact environmental degradation going
    unchecked threatens to lead to even greater
    poverty because of the dependence of the poor on
    the natural resource base.

26
Some Conclusions
  • With regard to policy gaps the establishment of
    an effective sustainable development framework is
    still a significant missing link.
  • An effective sustainable development policy and
    institutional framework is essential for tackling
    the challenges presented by environmental
    degradation attributed to poverty. Yet very
    little progress has been made in Jamaica and the
    wider Caribbean in establishing such a framework.

27
Recommendation
  • In 1992 at the United Nations (UN) Conference on
    Environment and Development (UNCED), many
    governments including those from the Caribbean
    made a commitment to adopting National Strategies
    for Sustainable Development (NSDSs).
  • These strategies were intended to be a means of
    integrating economic, social and environmental
    objectives into a strategically focused blueprint
    for action.
  • The solution for addressing the environmental
    cost of poverty may very well lie in the process
    of developing these strategies backed by a
    coherent policy and institutional framework
    geared for implementation.
  • It will require walking the walk and not just
    talking the talk about joined up
    government/governance.

28
Recommendation
  • It cannot be tackled within the Environmental
    Sector alone.
  • The hope lies in moving beyond simple
    acknowledgement of the problem to concerted
    action.
  • If this issue is not addressed one may dare say
    that few environmental management programmes will
    achieve long term success

29
Thank you
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