Nature meets policy in Burkina Faso

NAIROBI, Kenya, October 27, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-Burkina Faso country is implementing several multilateral environmental agreements – including the National Economic and Social Development Plan (2016-2020), which envisages “strong, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”  But transformational change is no small feat. In 2019, Burkina Faso ranked 141 out of 162 countries in terms of progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The United Nations Development Account (UNDA) is a four-year project, designed to equip national institutions to more effectively implement and monitor environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda. In addition to developing national policies and strategies, participating countries are enabled to produce regular, comprehensive environmental data; and exchange knowledge throughout regional networks.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Development Coordination Officer,  Jean Jacob Sahou discusses project achievements and challenges in Burkina Faso – including its work during COVID-19.

Countries need to understand the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals and their linkages with other commitments and be able to translate this into concrete action.

What is the role of sustainable development in Burkina Faso’s plan for economic growth?

Burkina Faso’s National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES) envisages healthy and inclusive growth through sustainable consumption and production. One of its important strategic objectives is to “reverse the environmental degradation trend and sustainably ensure the natural and environmental resource management”.

Realizing environmental goals is a pre-condition to achieving the ambitious results of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Countries need to understand the environmental dimension of the Goals and their linkages with other commitments and be able to translate this into concrete action.  This calls for change in the way that national institutions make decisions, devise policies, legislate, and report on sustainable development issues: it means ensuring access to accurate information and knowledge, collaborating and coordinating across sectors – both within and across institutions, and making mechanisms more inclusive.

How does UNDA support the integration of environmental issues into public policy?

Responding to expressed needs, the UNDA project is designed to strengthen the capacity of national institutions to implement and monitor the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda in a coherent and integrated manner; and produce quality environmental statistics to inform decision making and guide the implementation of the Agenda in Burkina Faso.

To this end, UNEP works in collaboration with other organizations and Burkina Faso’s government institutions, UN Country Teams and Resident Coordinators, and Sustainable Development Goal mechanisms to enhance technical capacities of focal points in relevant ministries – including development, finance, agriculture, fisheries and environment – to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda in a coordinated, integrated and evidence-based manner; and national statistical offices to regularly produce comprehensive sets of environment statistics, data and information that integrate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) related data.

How has the project responded to the challenges posed by COVID-19?

Despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, UNEP leveraged the help of partners such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature; and the project continued with a series of workshops in March 2020. These included training on the use of the Sustainable Development Analytical Grid for members of the national committee in charge of the multilateral environmental agreements and decentralization; and national training on the use of the Rapid Environmental Assessment and the Rapid Assessment and Climate Change Adaptation Capacity, enabling participants to better integrate sustainable development, environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation planning into local and national developmental plans.  Participants also built capacity to use the toolkit to monitor the adaptation capacity of local developmental plans and projects on climate change.

In what ways is the country better equipped to achieve national plans and Sustainable Development Goals?

The project has improved institutional capacity building at national and local levels on environmental sustainability issues and their integration into key development processes, including economic, planning and statistical aspects.

Studies – including that of COVID-19 – will inform analyses and the formulation of the subsequent PNDES, which will include stronger environmental dimensions and be more coherent with Sustainable Development Goals.

Ultimately, the government is better equipped to respond to its responsibilities under Agenda 2030, including the capacity to report back at the global level on their progress toward achieving the sustainable development goals.

Considering the central role of multilateral environmental agreements in defining environmental goals, their provisions also inform the technical tools and support provided through this project, which in turn will help Burkina Faso have a wider perspective on the multiplicity of the environmental goals they are called to achieve. 

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the UN Environment Programme.

For more information, please contact Jean Jacob Sahou: jean-jacob.sahou@un.org.