July 2011

PROJECT INTRODUCTION AND TABLE OF CONTENTS

Who we are...

The Realising DReAMS project (Development of Resources and Access to Municipal Services) is a 3-year action started in January 2010 which will help local governments to integrate the fields of poverty & environment. It will achieve this through introducing an environmental management tool (ecoBUDGET) and a poverty database monitoring system (PDMS) to improve living standards and reduce environmental degradation. Local communities are therefore the final beneficiaries of the project. The project, funded under the EuropeAid Programme of the European Commission, is a partnership of local and regional governments in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Italy, the Philippines and Sweden, and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.

Table of contents

1  |  News

2  |  Introducing partners

  • Guntur
  • Rajshahi

3  |  Study tour experiences in Bologna & Växjö

4  |  Introducing ecoBUDGET

5  |  Library

...

Visit the DReAMS website at dreams.ecobudget.org for the latest news.

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WORDS FROM THE EDITOR

Welcome to the second issue of the DReAMS project Newsletter!

In the preceding edition you will have found that the calendar of events, field visits, and training sessions was already filling up.

Quite a lot has happened since that edition was released. The integration of ecoBUDGET and PDMS was the most important challenge for the project partners. The scope of the issue and the interaction of these tools was extensively discussed in the project meeting in Freiburg in February and are explored in the lead article.

There is also a short introduction to the cities of Guntur in India and Rajshahi in Bangladesh. This is followed by a report about two intensive environmentally-focused study tours, which will take place from 13-17 February in Bologna Italy, and Växjö Sweden. The delegations, which came from Bohol, Guntur, Rajshahi and Thimphu discovered new ideas, inspiration and insight, further details are available below. 

To learn more about our efforts, successes and challenges, visit dreams.ecobudget.org. A third edition of the newsletter will be also available around the end of this year.

Happy reading!


1. NEWS

Towards integration of ecoBUDGET and PDMS

Enhancing the capacity of local governments to manage environmental resources and contribute towards the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 1 and 7 is the most important challenge to DReAMS partners. Poverty and environment are linked. Understanding the relationship between them is crucial  and the integrated implementation of the environmental management system, ecoBUDGET and the Poverty Database Monitoring System, PDMS, can deliver the neccessary solutions.

The question of urban poverty should not be considered narrowly in terms of income in relation to costs of living, but should be extended to consider the standard of living. The ability to maintain a minimum standard of living depends both on the economic status of a family and on the access to basic services. Although the access to clean sources of energy, water supply, sanitation, sewerage disposal system and solid waste management practices is not sufficient for poverty alleviation in its entirety, it constitutes an absolutely necessary condition. For example, the use of fuelwood in households as cooking fuel contributes to indoor air pollution, which is associated with increased mortality and morbidity from respiratory diseases among children and adults. Similarly, access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation greatly impacts the health of citizens. Health is intricately related to the ability of generating income, as well as to other socio economic characteristics such as education, gender sensitivity and quality of life. The local economy may be dependent on forestry, fishing, tourism, etc, and therefore on the sustainable use of ecosystem services. When broken down by geographical (rural/urban/ coastal/ mountainous) or socioeconomic (income/education) criteria, these indicators provide tangible evidence of social inequities and demonstrate the high dependency poor have on ecosystems and environmental resources for their livelihood.

There is wide recognition across political, technical and academic spectra that  the conservation of natural resources is critical to realizing economic development and poverty reduction. However, mainstreaming environmental criteria into overall city goals is a complex process requiring a whole range of supportive policy and programming frameworks favouring integration: indicators, strategies and guidelines, data or mechanisms to collect its commitment from policy makers, and competent technical professionals. A crucial aspect of this complex process is the application of a cyclical and integrated approach, consisting of five major steps that are repeated in regular cycles according to the specific circumstances. In this perspective, ecoBUDGET is a cyclical political management system supporting decision-making, whereas PDMS is a software giving inputs to the system.

Arising from the set of challenges above, the combination of ecoBUDGET and PDMS aims at monitoring the status of poverty levels through improved municipal services by management of environmental and natural resources. The scope of the issue and the interactions of these tools were profoundly discussed in the project meeting in Freiburg last February., where it was agreed that primarily PDMS will give contributions to the following stages of the ecoBUDGET implementation (see figure):

  • baseline review or preparation phase, documenting the current environmental and poverty situation, legal requirements and political priorities. PDMS will generate exact data through a household level survey and support preparing the ground for objectives and targets to be discussed, agreed, set and approved and actions and initiatives to be identified (master budget).
  • monitoring, review and evaluation phase (budget balance). New information permits the validation of established policies, and if necessary new decisions are taken, and the cycle recommences. PDMS will generate data to assess whether poverty alleviation has actually occurred.

Therefore, the PDMS software will support local governments to identify the low-income population within the city and the “hot spots”, needing attention with reference to a specific indicator. This knowledge will then be integrated in ecoBUDGET, and actions to improve the indicators based on local policies, programmes and priorities will be implemented and monitored. At the end of the year, the budget balance will show the actual changes in the selected environmental and social indicators. The PDMS software will be used to assess the poverty status through regular surveys at the household level. A comparison of the different situations will give an idea of the alleviation of poverty. This will occur through the improvement of municipal basic services and by environmental and natural resource management (see figure below).

Concrete solutions require not only an abstract integration of tools, but also a shift in the decision-making process and an adequate formulation of response strategies.

2. INTRODUCING PARTNERS

In this section of each Newsletter two project partners give a short introduction about themselves.

GUNTUR (INDIA)

The city of Guntur is located in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in India, and is the political and administrative hub of the region. Guntur Municipality is one of the oldest municipalities and also the headquarters of the Guntur District.  It was constituted in 1866 and was upgraded to a Municipal Corporation in 1994.

The city has an estimated population of around 800,000 (514,707 per 2001 census) and is one of the larger (tier-2) cities in the country. The economy of the city is heavily dependent upon the agricultural market of chillies, cotton and tobacco. The region is also identified as a transportation and textile hub in India. It is a major educational centre with a number of graduate schools, colleges, and high schools providing basic and higher education (agricultural, arts, bio-med, engineering, management, medical, nursing, pharmaceutical, sciences, technology) in the region.  Guntur has an average literacy rate of 68%. The city administration is looked after by the Guntur Municipal Corporation.

A growing population and increasing urbanization have started to have an adverse impact on the environment and hence the lives of people of Guntur. Under the project Realising DReAMS, the city has identified certain issues which will improve the management of environmental and natural resources in the city and also help in poverty alleviation through the use of two tools ecoBUDGET and Poverty Database Management System (PDMS).  In Guntur, the primary environmental and socio-economic issues were linked to the urban basic services and include water availability, water pollution, solid waste management, slum development, energy conservation and improvement of education in government schools.


RAJSHAHI (BANGLADESH)

The city of Rajshahi in Bangladesh is the divisional headquarters of Rajshahi Division as well as the Rajshahi administrative district and is one of the six metropolitan cities of Bangladesh. From a small city of only about 40,000 population in 1951, the city has grown into the fourth largest city in Bangladesh with over half a million population. It became a municipality in 1876, a Municipal Corporation in 1987 and finally a City Corporation in 1992.

Rajshahi City can be characterized as an administrative and educational centre in an agricultural setting with trading and industries. The city’s economy is dependent on a few major scattered industries, an industrial estate at Sopura with a handful of industries manufacturing the famous Rajshahi silk, public sector organizations, academic institutions, informal sector and trade & commerce provide major base for economic activities. The silk and agricultural produce, mainly mangoes and litchis are very famous. It is an important tourist destination with a number of dargahs, temples and mosques, as well as the river Padma flowing next to it. It is also home to renowned educational institutions. The administration is looked after by the Rajshahi City Corporation. In addition, the Rajshahi Development Authority also coordinates the development of the city.        

Urbanization in Rajshahi has not been at the scale of the other metro cities in the country and as such the environmental problems related to rapid urbanization process is not yet acute. But realizing the growing need and the opportunity provided by the project Realising DReAMS, Rajshahi City Corporation has identified issues that they would like to concentrate for improving environmental and natural resources through ecoBUDGET and simultaneously alleviating poverty through the use of the PDMS tool. The major social, environmental and economic issues faced by the citizens are availability of water, sanitation, solid waste management, health issues specially immunization of infants, energy conservation and urban transportation.

3. STUDY TOUR EXPERIENCES

Bohol's Växjö study visit experience

From 13 to 16 February 2011 a delegation from the Province of Bohol went on a study visit to Växjö, Sweden, as part of the activities outlined in Realizing DReAMS.

The main purpose of the study visit was to strengthen the foundation for a political partnership and to create new links between the two local authorities. Furthermore, the study visit was aimed at giving the partners from Bohol the opportunity to experience and learn more about Växjö’s eco-friendly management policies and its succesful implementation of ecoBUDGET for almost a decade.

For three days, the members of the delegation interacted with their counterparts from Växjö. During the first day, municipal officials led by Mr. Bo Frank, Mayor of Växjö, welcomed the partners from Bohol and gave a quick overview of Växjö's culture, people and especially the best practices in the area of environmental management. Ms. Sohie Kim-Hagdahl, Environmental Coordinator, gave a presentation of Växjö’s eco-friendly management best practices thereby highlighting the key points that helped Växjö become Europe’s greenest city. Växjö’s DReAMS Project coordinator Mr. Anders Lundgren explained how Växjö adopted and embraced ecoBUDGET. Following these introductory notes, the delegation had a guided tour to Koska Boda, the Kingdom of Crystal.

On day two, the delegation visited important sites in Växjö that reflected the municipality’s eco-friendly culture. Among them was the city park, Växjö’s Waste Water Plant in Sundet, the Sandvik Combined Heat and Power Plant as well as a school running partly on solar energy. On their last day of the trip, the delegation got the chance to interact with officials from Växjö once again. Issues such as Växjö’s budget management for the education sector as well as Växjö’s Energy Plan and CO2 monitoring were discussed.

Study visit to Bologna, Italy

Between 14 and 17 February the delegations from Thimphu, Guntur and Rajshahi went to a study visit to Bologna, Italy. After a brief overview of the DReAMS Project, the delegations met the Mayor’s cabinet and staff followed by presentations about the organizational structure of the Municipality of Bologna.  Moreover, the head of the environmental Quality Unit gave an informative overview of the activities of the environmental unit sector and the director of the Environment department shared his knowledge about waste management.

A guided walking tour through the city of Bologna, showed environmental features and sites in the city. Among them were the underground waste disposal system, the community bicycle system and the traffic calming devices. To complete the prior city tour, meetings with experts were organized tackling the topics of water and mobility.  In another meeting the participants had the chance to get together with the coordinator of the energy office and visit the show-room “energy and environment”. Another highlight of the tour to Bologna was the visit of the waste separation plant HERA and the water depuration plant IDAR HERA.

4. INTRODUCING ecoBUDGET

The ecoBUDGET Cycle

ecoBUDGET is an environmental management system (developed especially for local governments) to help them plan, monitor and report the consumption of natural resources within their municipal territory. The aim of ecoBUDGET is to guarantee a sustainable use of natural resources as well as environmental quality by setting locally defined key targets.  

In practice, ecoBUDGET, in conformity with community (financial) budgeting, seeks to help the community to sustainably budget natural resources like air, climate, soil, animal and plant species and human well-being. The town or district council determines a periodic environmental budget, which sets budgetary limits and environmental quality goals for the use and consumption of natural resources (budgets can be adjusted from one period to another). The implementation of the environmental budget in the course of the environmental budgetary year is regularly monitored, results are consolidated at the end of the year and an environmental balance sheet is compiled and published in a report. Through the use of indicators, ecoBUDGET regularly informs elected officials, staff and the general public how their decisions impact the natural resources capital available to the community. This cycle is known as the ecoBUDGET.

The graph illustrates an ideal annual ecoBUDGET cycle: the 5-step approach of the ecoBUDGET cycle mirrors the three phases of the municipal financial budgeting cycle including budget planning (i.e. the preparation of an environmental budget), budget spending (i.e. the implementation of planned measures to meet the budget), and budget balancing (i.e. balancing the annual environmental accounts).

5. LIBRARY

Struggling more and more with dwindling water supplies and extreme flooding events?

The SWITCH handbook ‘Adapting urban water systems to climate change’ was developed for local decision makers and provides an introduction to the consequences of climate change for urban water systems.

Launched together with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the International Water Association (IWA) at the Resilient Cities Conference in Bonn this year (3 - 5 June 2011), this handbook helps understand the practical implications of climate change and provides guidance on how to manage them in the most effective way. Please download the handbook at www.adaptationhandbook.org or get in touch with the ICLEI European Secretariat for a hard copy.

Contact: Anne-Claire Loftus, water@iclei.org

Dr. Cristina Garzillo

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat
Leopoldring 3, 79098 Freiburg, Germany
Tel: +49 - 761 - 368 92 0 | Fax: +49 - 761 - 368 - 92 69
cristina.garzillo@iclei.org

Disclaimer

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the  European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Province of Bohol and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Published by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, 2011
Contact: cristina.garzillo@iclei.org