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Library The Poverty/Environment Nexus in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Poverty/Environment Nexus in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Poverty/Environment Nexus in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic

Resource information

Date of publication
August 2014
Resource Language
ISBN / Resource ID

Environmental degradation can inflict
serious damage on poor people because their livelihoods
often depend on natural resource use and their living
conditions may offer little protection from air, water, and
soil pollution. At the same time, poverty-constrained
options may induce the poor to deplete resources and degrade
the environment at rates that are incompatible with
long-term sustainability. In such cases, degraded resources
may precipitate a downward spiral, by further reducing the
income and livelihoods of the poor. This
"poverty/environment nexus" has become a major
issue in the recent literature on sustainable development.
In regions where the nexus is significant, jointly
addressing problems of poverty and environmental degradation
may be more cost-effective than addressing them separately.
Empirical evidence on the prevalence and importance of the
poverty/environment nexus is sparse because the requisite
data are often difficult to obtain in developing countries.
The authors use newly available spatial and survey data to
investigate the spatial dimension of the nexus in Cambodia,
and Lao People's Democratic Republic. The data enable
the authors to quantify several environmental problems at
the district and provincial level. In a parallel exercise,
they map the provincial distribution of poor households.
Merging the geographic information on poverty and the
environment, the authors search for the nexus using
geo-referenced indicator maps and statistical analysis. The
results suggest that the nexus is country-specific:
geographical, historical, and institutional factors may all
play important roles in determining the relative importance
of poverty and environment links in different contexts.
Joint implementation of poverty and environment strategies
may be cost-effective for some environmental problems, but
independent implementation may be preferable in many cases
as well. Since the search has not revealed a common nexus,
the authors conclude on a cautionary note. The evidence
suggests that the nexus concept can provide a useful
catalyst for country-specific work, but not a general
formula for program design.

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