The EPM Guidebook


Better Environmental and Technical Expertise.

Preparation of Basic Overview Information

Involvement of Stakeholders

Setting of Priorities

Clarification of Priority Issues

How to Improve the Urban Environment?

A common focus of many innovative and effective ideas and approaches being worked out today is a central concern with the actual process of urban environmental planning and management. Experiences in cities and towns from countries all over the globe - despite their vast differences in physical, economic, social and political situations - increasingly converge on this same viewpoint, this same framework for action. This evolving framework of Environmental Planning and Management (EPM) can be character ized as comprising, in general, four closely inter-related elements or aspects:

Identification and Prioritization of Urban Environmental Issues and Involvement of Stakeholders

Formulating Urban Environmental Management Strategies;

Formulating and Implementing Environmental Action Plans; and

Insititutionalising Urban Environmental Planning and Management.

Based on information from a wide variety of cities, a number of "guidelines" can be suggested, each of which reflects the knowledge and insights - the "lessons" - gained through different city experiences. These guidelines identify and describe ways which cities have found to be effective in moving towards sustainable development and thus comprise a useful framework for a global approach to implementing the urban environmental agenda. For convenience, these various guidelines can be grouped under five ma in headings, although individual guidelines may well be relevant under more than the one heading.


Better Environmental Information and Technical Expertise

Clarification of Priority Urban Environmental Issues and Involvement of Stakeholders: identifying, assessing, clarifying, and prioritizing environmental issues and mobilizing the active participation of the various actors or stakeholders who need to be involved in the different activities of EPM.

1.1 Preparation of Basic Overview Information

Many cities have found it very useful to systematically identify and clarify their environment/development issues, thereby giving a better understanding of the complexities of the city's environmental problems, of their inter-linkages, and of the relationship between environmental and developmental factors. One effective way to do this is through the process of developing a City Environmental Profile, which is a compilation and synthesis of existing knowledge and data brought together in a form which f ocu ses on environmental and development management factors, especially in relation to the interests and roles of different stakeholders. The process of formulating and revising a City Environmental Profile is fundamentally concerned with establishing the overall context for urban environmental management, with a particular emphasis on inter-relationships among issues and actors. Although based upon the best available scientific and technical information, it is primarily a non-technical process which should involve extensive dialogue among the "stakeholders" of the city. Successfully done, the process of working out a City Environmental Profile will provide a valuable starting point and common information base (which is normally updated regularly as new information becomes available) as well as promoting a wider mutual understanding among the key actors and institutions to be involved.

ACCRA: In 1991, urban environmental data were collected and an urban profile was prepared with the help of the UMP. That same year, this information was used as the basis for stakeholder consultations and an environmental town meeting. In 1994, with help from the SCP, the profile was updated. The following year it served as the basis for discussion during a week-long city consultation.
ABIDJAN: With support from the UMP, urban environmental data were collected and an environmental profile was prepared using the UMP's rapid urban environmental assessment framework. This information was used as the key background document for a three-day consultation as well as for a Government/World Bank review of the urban sector.
DAKAR: To prepare basic overview information, a UMP-supported consultation was launched in early 1993 to discuss the process with stakeholders and seek their cooperation. This was followed in mid-year by a rapid assessment of the urban environment by local consultants who assembled relevant data and prepared an environmental profile. Towards the end of the year, a consultative workshop was held to discuss the profile and identify priority issues.
HANOI: Between 1975 and 1993, various research projects about the urban environment were conducted. In 1993-94, the results of these inquiries were used to systematically identify issues through preparation of an environmental profile. This expert-driven process was supplemented by participation of a local NGO and by public complaints about the environment. The latter drew attention to groundwater pollution and management of the cityís largest cemetery as priority issues.
IBADAN: To identify, articulate and clarify environmental issues, an NGO was hired in 1994 to produce a city environmental profile. The NGO involved local professionals and obtained relevant data from government agencies. A comprehensive document was produced containing basic information about Ibadanís development and environment issues, along with institutions responsible for environmental planning and management within the city. Copies of the profile were sent to government offices , traditional commu nity leaders and certain professional associations.
ISMAILIA: An environmental profile was prepared that helped to generate information and insight that were used to develop background papers for general discussion at the city consultation. The profile also illuminated key development-environment concerns, e.g. agricultural issues, problems of unserviced informal areas, increasing lake pollution, and inadequate management of industrial and solid wastes. Finally, the profile illustrated the complex system of environment and development m anagement arrangeme nts involving local, governorate and national levels of government.

1.2 Involvement of Stakeholders

Most cities have found that successful environmental planning and management requires understanding, agreement, and coordinated action by the full range of public and private and popular sector interests and groups and organizations ("stakeholders") at the individual, neighbourhood, community, city and regional levels. It seems to be vital, therefore, that a wide-ranging process of identifying and involving "stakeholders" be undertaken, to identify and involve:

those whose interests are affected by environmental and/or development issues - or by environmental management strategies and actions;

those who control relevant implementation instruments and powers to significantly influence environment/developmental interactions; and

those who possess relevant information and expertise needed for strategy formulation and implementation. It is important for this process to also involve groups which may be outside the formal planning and management systems, esp[especially "stakeholders" representing low-income and private sector groups and interests, at both city and neighbourhood levels.

BAMAKO: As part of the EPM exercise, a partnership was formed between the city administration and a set of key NGOs, CBOs and informal sector groups within one of the city's administrative districts. It is called "Co-ordination for Sanitation" and has been critical in moving the EPM process forward.
KATOWICE: While urban environmental working groups initially consisted only of municipal representatives, other stakeholders were consciously brought into the process. Mini-consultations were held to expand the membership of the working groups. This process also lead to the expansion of the working groups from two to six in number as well as further clarification of priority land and water-related issues.
MADRAS: An NGO movement, Exnora International, was successful in improving solid waste collection and street cleaning through community participation by involving three key stakeholders: the residents themselves, ragpickers in the informal sector (renamed street beautifiers) and the municipal authorities.
NAIROBI: Nairobi's 1993 workshop on "City Environment and Sustainable Development" was part of a larger forum that was the city's first experience with stakeholder involvement to develop a broad vision of the future. The process has led to the recommendation that a stakeholder City Environment and Sustainable Development Network be created to negotiate an action agenda on the environment with officials.

1.3 Setting of Priorities

Clearly, no city can realistically expect to successfully tackle all of its environmental and development issues at once. Accordingly, experience has shown the value of being selective and establishing an agreed process for setting priorities, so that attention and action may be focused on a limited array of problems and tasks in a strategic sequence. It may be appropriate to look at priority natural resources issues and priority environmental hazard issues in parallel. Once local environmental issue s h ave been identified and key stakeholders are committed to participate in the process, it is possible to work out with them which issues should receive priority attention. The criteria for prioritization will be worked out through the participatory process and will normally derive from consideration both of the impacts associated with each environmental problem and of the local capacities to respond. Appropriate criteria have included the following:

the magnitude of health impacts associated with the problem;

the size of urban productivity loss caused by the problem;

the potential for local capacity-building;

the potential for local resource mobilization;

the relative impact of the problem borne by the urban poor;

the degree to which the consequences are short- or long-term;

whether or not the problem leads to an irreversible outcome;

to respond to special circumstances (e.g. a natural disaster, or perhaps a major investment opportunity, or a social/political opening);

the degree of social/political consensus on the nature or severity of problems;

whether the problem is significantly affected by local responses and actions; and

short-run limitations posed by existing institutional and other resources.

ACCRA: In mid-1995, a week-long city consultation succeeded in bringing together over 150 stakeholders to agree on priority issues for action plan development. Two issues were identified as most critical: degradation of the Korle Lagoon and inadequate sanitation.
ABIDJAN: A stakeholder consultation was used to elaborate on four priority themes: water and wastes; housing and community infrastructure; transport and energy; and green/open space. Working groups identified and structured key problems within these priority themes.
COLOMBO: A stakeholder steering committee and a technical working group worked together with local consultants to describe the extent of environmental degradation, project future environmental conditions in Colombo, describe the lack of existing remedial measures, and compile an inventory and analysis of environmental legislation and institutional arrangements. During this process, the following environmental priorities were identified: a) loss of natural resources; b) deteriorating qua lity of surface and groundwater; c) flooding and stagnation of water courses; d) pollution from solid wastes; e) deteriorating ambient air quality; f) concentrated environmental problems in low-income areas; and g) traffic congestion. These problems were attributed to inadequately planned or controlled urban and industrial growth, lack of pollution control, insufficient or malfunction infrastructure and public services, and inadequate institutional and financial capacity for management.
CONCEPCION: During a four month period, sectoral meetings with stakeholders were held. Two issues emerged as priorities from this process: deficiencies in (a) water resource management and (b) urban land planning and management. These then formed the core of an initial consultation held in mid-1994.
DAKAR: At a consultative workshop, working groups identified general or thematic priorities (natural and industrial risks, air pollution, solid waste, sanitation, and environmental education) and geographically specific ones (pollution of Hann Bay and coastal erosion). At the workshop's final plenary, a consensus was reached to proceed with action planning on the Bay pollution and industrial risks.
HANOI: The Hanoi Environment Committee used the following criteria to prioritise an implementation timetable: a) health effects; b) magnitude of damage costs; and c) severity of the problem (extent and long-term versus short-term impact).

1.4 Clarification of Priority Issues

Environmental issues - and their ramifications - are almost always more complex than at first thought, especially when the inherent conflicts of interest among different stakeholders is taken into account. It has often proved valuable to follow a careful and deliberate process for developing a broad-based understanding of the full nature of environmental questions. By doing this in an open and participatory way, for instance using public meetings and documentation, it is possible to systematically cla rify issues and elaborate environmental issues in ways which directly support the environmental planning and management process.

DAKAR: In 1994, environmental profiles were prepared with SCP support on two priority themes - Hann Bay pollution and industrial risks. These profiles, prepared by local consultants, examined the nature of the problem, the relationship between the problem and urban development, and the institutional setting of the theme. That same year, a three-day consultation was held with over 100 stakeholders to discuss the two themes and next steps. Results are being used to develop action plans that will cover needed investments, technical assistance, policy reforms, and institutional development.
DAR ES SALAAM: Environmental issues were initially identified through preparation of an urban environmental profile in 1992. That same year, a five-day City Consultation on Environmental Issues was held. Over 200 participants, including the Prime Minister, attended and reached consensus on nine priority environmental issues as well as a process to address key problems.

Return to the cover page
Environmental Planning and Management Guidebook