According to UNDP's Environmental Mainstreaming Strategy, environmental mainstreaming refers to the integration of environmental policy considerations into core institutional thinking with other policies and related activities, as well as with coordination and harmonization to ensure policy coherence. Many reasons can be given to justify why drylands mainstreaming should receive affirmative action. Negative attitude towards them as wasteland are top on the list. They have tended to be subsumed under environment and natural resources with a consequence that their reflection in national development frameworks is still minimal. The high levels of poverty and poor social indicators for drylands communities will hold countries back on the attainment of the MDGs, as without mainstreaming drylands, they will lose out in resource allocation.
Many factors make mainstreaming expensive and time demanding. First, it permeates many planning frameworks like policies, laws, sector-wide plans, and plans of local governments, programmes and projects. Secondly, it permeates different phases of the above, including the conceptualization, planning and design, appraisal, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Thirdly, some of the above planning frameworks take long to be completed
Furthermore, mainstreaming requires a conceptual shift that identifies environmental sustainability as an objective of the development process, rather than focusing on compliance with environmental standards as a side condition to the achievement of other objectives. It thus requires a focus on proactive investment in policies and projects that promote integration of environment/dryland issues into development strategies themselves, rather than as an "add on" component to policies or projects conceptualized without reference to environmental sustainability.
The approach adopted by the Programme proved to be effective in addressing these challenges especially where the enabling environment was conducive. First, the Programme adopted a flexible, responsive, opportunistic approach which allowed it to influence relevant initiatives in-the-making (whether a policy, plan or a programme) and give due consideration to drylands development. Second, the integrated approach promoted by the Programme highlights the value of the sustainable use of natural resources as a vehicle for community development and poverty alleviation.
In accordance with the Convention and country practices, mainstreaming drylands issues should occur at the local, regional/sub-national, national, and global levels. The Programme is supporting mainstreaming efforts in programme countries as illustrated below: