Environmental Mainstreaming – A Guide for Project Managers

20 October 2016
ITC News
New guide will help all ITC projects maximize potential contribution to environmental sustainability and increased climate change resilience

A new guide from the International Trade Centre (ITC) provides project managers with tools to assess environmental considerations in project planning and implementation, in order to mitigate risks, enhance resilience and seize opportunities to expand trade in sustainable goods and services.

The Environmental Mainstreaming Guide and its accompanying training programme are part of ITC’s corporate approach to sustainable development, which in turn responds to the United Nations’ long-term commitment to environmental sustainability.

ITC supports developing countries to use trade as a lever for sustainable development and increased climate change resilience. Environmental ‘mainstreaming’, which means incorporating environmental concerns at every step of the project, has helped ITC clients to access new markets meeting high environmental standards and regulations, or by exporting sustainably sourced biodiversity-based products and in turn creating incentives for conservation. It is thus a critical step towards combining inclusive economic growth with better environmental performance.

One example of successful mainstreaming is ensuring that ITC’s clients of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop climate-resilience and sustainability strategies, for example, in the agricultural sector, and thus remain viable businesses even as the weather and temperature patterns change.

The new guide sets out a four step process overview, for project managers: access; decide; plan; and deliver. The assessment process is essential to identify potential environment-related risks and opportunities. The guide provides an Environmental Assessment Template and tips on how to complete it. Every project, sector and national context is unique and should be evaluated on its own merits, the guide emphasises.

Following the assessment, every project is assigned one of three ratings based on the level of environmental risk and will inform how deeply environmental activities should be integrated into the project logframe and results chain.

The final two steps cover planning and delivery. Managers of projects with higher ratings must embed environment-related considerations more deeply throughout their planned outputs, activities and indicators. For projects with the highest environmental rating, ITC’s Trade for Sustainable Development Programme may be consulted as a resource; such projects may also need to hire environmental specialists to develop and implement activities.

The new guide was prepared by ITC’s Trade and Environment Programme in consultation with colleagues across the organization.