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Achieving development goals through better sustainable use of natural resources

The Poverty-Environment Initiative

Mozambique is a country rich in natural resources, coming from a large quantity and variety, and a relatively low population density. Over 82% of jobs in the country depend on its natural resources and it is estimated that natural capital represents about 50% of its GDP.


Although renewable natural resources make a significant contribution to Mozambique's economy, official statistics do not adequately reflect this figure. For example, the economic benefits of subsistence agriculture, forestry and fishing are not satisfactorily included in national calculations. However, ensuring the sustainable management of these natural resources is essential to reduce poverty and increase the economic and social well-being of Mozambicans.


The UNDP-UNEP Poverty and Environment Initiative (IPMA) program was launched in 2005, with the aim of supporting the government of Mozambique to promote sustainable management of natural resources.


The IPMA funded several studies and selected pilot projects to show that environmental degradation and poverty are closely interlinked, and that sustainable management of natural resources can be the key to economic development.


The Poverty and Environment initiative also supported the process of including the sustainable use of natural resources in government sectoral plans and activities. It supported the creation and revitalization of 17 Environmental Units in Ministries such as Mineral Resources, Women and Social Action, Energy, Health, Tourism, Fisheries and, more recently, the Ministry of Finance. Consequently, these ministries, which have a major impact on the environment, have begun to integrate sustainability issues into their policies and strategies.


The initiative promoted an economic assessment of natural resources in order to draw attention to the economic benefits of their sustainable use and highlighted the substantial economic benefits of investing more in this area.


In addition, the IPMA supported the government to carry out the so-called Public Expenditure Review in the Environment Sector to analyze the level of public spending in various sectors on activities related to the environment.


These studies revealed that the irresponsible use of natural resources has already cost the country 17% of its GDP, about 45 billion meticais, equivalent to US $ 1.5 billion a year. In addition, the Review revealed that spending on the sustainable use of natural resources was equivalent to only 1.4% of GDP.


This expenditure is well below the recommended in economic terms.


The work of the IPMA served as a motivation for the Government to launch, in 2012, with the support of UNDP, an Action Plan for Green Growth. RDPSA, the economic assessment of natural resources and other pilot projects served as evident evidence of the importance of protection for the Mozambican economy, and that it should no longer be considered a source of expenditure, but rather a benefit for the entire country.

Directed by Marta Baraibar.

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