Quality of life is linked to the quality of the environment, PEI confirms

Apr 22, 2013

UNDP Thailand / Mark S. Cogan : Dr. Louis Lebel of Chiang Mai University said that the SGA proves that quality of life is linked to the qualiity of the environment.

BANGKOK-- Experts, academics, and government officials met at the Amari Watergate Hotel today, 22 April to discuss lessons learned, share experiences about critical development challenges and assess their contributions.

For three years a joint initiative between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Thailand and the United Nations Environment Programme worked to show local people the clear links between the natural ecosystem services that the environment provides to both economic growth and protection against poverty. The Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) worked in three Thai pilot provinces—Nan, Khon Khen and Samut Songkram—each with its own set of challenges.

“PEI has an important aim—to address both poverty and environmental by putting them at the center of development. An important part of the project was the Sub-Global Assessment (SGA) carried out in three PEI pilot provinces to demonstrate the clear links between ecosystem services and their direct impacts on people’s lives,” said Yuxue Xue, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Thailand.

The forum provided an opportunity for participants to share experiences on the SGA—and tools aim to put the environment and natural resource considerations into the development equation.

Dr. Louis Lebel, Director, Unit for Social and Environmental Research (USER), Chiang Mai University, Thailand said that there were positives and negatives for PEI and the SGA—both provide agencies and policy-makers valuable information for continuing to mainstream a pro-poor approach into development planning.

Activities in all three of the pilot provinces had their fair share of successes and their lessons that will help shape future approaches.

In Nan province, scenarios were developed to show what the province would look like in the near future and community groups were active at all stages of the process—which led to a keen interest in advocacy. In Samut Songkram province, communities conducted community-based research, making scientific observations, and making findings.

“They understood their history—over 30-50 years and why. They know why land use and water has changed. The best thing is that the people who led the process actually live in the province and continue to be active in taking real data into discussions on their four-year provincial plan.”

For the SGA as a whole, it proved to be an important tool as it confirmed their initial contention, that local quality of life is equal to the health of the local ecosystem.

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