We’ve all heard that sustainability is important.
But when it comes to decision making, many people still think that environmental conservation has little to do with economic or social well-being. If you share this opinion, you might want to take a look at Kyrgyzstan.
One-third of the population lives below the poverty line and farming accounts for 40 percent of total employment (70 percent of the poor), while 85 percent of land is exposed to erosion.
Environmental concerns like land erosion and degradation are reducing agricultural output and threatening the livelihoods of people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
This is just one of the many linkages between environmental degradation and poverty. People in Kyrgyzstan are increasingly aware of the need for sustainable development – that is, treating the economy, social affairs, and the environment as one integrated issue.
But changing development patterns is not an easy task.
How do you start?
Kyrgyz decision makers have realized that sustainability has to be a core part of development planning.
That’s where environmental action comes into play: The importance of ecosystem services for the well-being of society has to be reflected in the country`s political and economic strategies, an approach in line with the Post-2015 consultations and “The Future We Want“:
“We acknowledge the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their interlinkages, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.”
Our joint Poverty-Environment Initiative is supporting country-led efforts to transform the current economic model.
In this process, engaging a broad range of stakeholders has been proven to be a key factor for success:
In genuinely participatory national consultations, representatives from civil society, government institutions, and UNDP had the opportunity to discuss ways to make sustainability a top policy priority.
Finally, the President of Kyrgyzstan adopted the country’s first National Sustainable Development Strategy. Together with a new government programme on sustainability, these plans will guide the political and economic decisions of the next years.
The commitment of Kyrgyz authorities is already manifesting in institutional changes with the recent establishment of a new Department of Strategic Planning in the Ministry of Economy.
Even though these achievements have long-term implications, there is also progress on the ground.
Our project on the sustainable management of pastures and its subsequent replication proves that poverty and environmental degradation can be addressed together.
Everyone’s dedication to making Kyrgyzstan`s future sustainable has been remarkable so far, we’re excited to see where this goes.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated.