Promoting and fostering adoption of appropriate clean energy technology to reduce environmental degradation while at the same time reducing poverty is the focal point of the World Bank’s new sustainable development and environmental strategy.
“The new strategy is recognition that countries are now facing even greater environmental challenges, that we have succeeded in reducing poverty in many cases, but that reduction in poverty has not come with a reduction in environmental problems,” explains director of environment Mary Barton-Dock.
Supporting development that is “clean, green and resilient” is the goal of the new strategy. To realize this overarching aim, the World Bank Group intends to help countries better manage their natural resources, encourage clean technologies and assist communities coping with climate change. The clean, green development strategy includes carrying out programs to deliver clean, renewable energy to communities that lack access to electrical and other power grids.
Green, Clean & Resilient: Short-Terms Gains, Long-Term Sustainability
“We’re seeing that working through the nexus of food crises, water insecurity, and energy needs is being made all the more complicated by environmental degradation and climate change,” said World Bank vice president for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte. “Countries and communities and the ecosystems they depend on need to build resilience while moving to more efficient growth paths. This Strategy lays out the areas where we will put emphasis as we work to respond to countries’ needs.”
Developing countries may find it easier to grow in a green, sustainable environmental fashion, the World Bank asserts.
“More integrated thinking of planning today, starting to implement now, but keeping an eye very much on the long-term in terms of what a good model city could look like would really a lot of money in the short-term but even more so in the long-term,” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank environment sector manager, Africa region.
Sustainable use of ocean resources is another focal point of the World Bank’s new environmental strategy, as is helping develop and drive adoption of new economic models that incorporate the value natural ecosystems and environmental resources provide.
“Oceans are a major focus as they provide food and jobs to people worldwide, so reducing pollution and improving the management of fisheries are among the top priorities,” the World Bank explains in its online video. “A major innovation of this strategy is to help governments put a monetary value on things such as clean oceans and healthy ecosystems.”
From the Top Down and Grass Roots Up
Getting private sector corporations, along with governments, on-board and adopting such economic valuation and accounting models is a key challenge. “The real drivers of any economy now is the private sector,” elaborated Bill Bulmer, IFC-World Bank director for environment and social development. “And so the private sector needs to be intimately involved in addressing these issues in a way that achieves the sort of results that we’re looking for in the strategy.”
A key priority on the World Bank’s “green” agenda is fostering adoption of the “Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services” (WAVES) model, “a global partnership which supports countries’ efforts to factor natural capital into national accounting systems and through the Global Partnership for Oceans, the focus is on restoring the world’s oceans to health and optimizing their contribution to economic growth and food security,” according to the World Bank’s press release.
Pollution management through river clean-up and legacy pollution projects are priorities, as is encouraging low-emission development strategies and financing renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture, and lower-carbon cities.
Real success will have to come from the grass roots up, however, the World Bank believes. “For a lot of the communities, I think perhaps if you talk to them about green, clean and resilient, they might not internalize it in the same way, but if you break it down and say to people, ‘Would you like to have clean water?’ Would you like to live in a city without pollution,’ there’s no doubt,” Pswarayi-Riddihough added.