Air, land, and water pollution caused 9 million premature deaths in 2015, or 16% of all deaths worldwide. About 92% of all pollution-related mortality is seen in low-income and middle-income countries, with the poor, marginalized, and young hardest hit by the health effects of the contamination. The economic burden is immense: in 2016, ambient air pollution alone cost the global economy US$5.7 trillion—4.4 percent of global GDP.
The World Bank is committed to supporting countries most severely impacted by pollution by providing technical assistance on pollution management, facilitating knowledge generation and sharing, and raising awareness about the detrimental impact on global health.
World Bank lending commitments that address pollution management and environmental health issues grew from US$1.81 billion in FY2008 to US$4.28 billion in FY2016, with results including air pollution reduction in Mongolia and China, and easing contamination on land and in rivers in a number of developing countries. This work is in part supported by the Pollution Management and Environmental Health (PMEH) program within the World Bank’s Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice.
Solutions to pollution offer no-regrets options to boost economic development (through for example, increased tourism, improved transport, better energy efficiency, and increased overall productivity), mitigate climate change (short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon contribute equally to air quality and global warming) and address the vital demands of millions of people for healthier and more productive lives.
Pollution management and environmental health are important issues for both urban and rural development. Building inclusive and resilient cities requires the provision of pollution management infrastructure and services, like solid waste collection and air quality management, for rapidly growing urban populations. Sustainable rural development requires strong regulatory frameworks to reduce exposure to hazardous waste materials, like mining and e-wastes, and effective systems to minimize health hazards of pesticide and fertilizer, especially as agricultural production increases and intensifies.
The World Bank’s simultaneous approach to urban and rural environmental health provides a powerful platform to develop effective solutions to pollution management. Urban and rural residents may appear to face different environmental health risks; however, evidence demonstrates that both environments are systematically linked.
Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity underlie PMEH’s mission to improve global health outcomes, especially for the poor, through reduction of pollution.
Over the last several years, stakeholders across low and middle income countries have expressed an urgent need for increased support on pollution management in order to respond to the magnitude of the threat to human health and economies. Responding to pollution is a challenge that is solvable in the near term to save lives and unlock economic opportunity through action at the local, national, regional and global levels.
The World Bank established a Pollution Management and Environmental Health (PMEH) program to respond to this demand from clients and stakeholders. PMEH is part of the World Bank’s brown business line (pollution management and environmental health) within the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice.
PMEH was officially launched on Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day (April 18, 2015) in Washington, D.C.
PMEH will initially run from 2015 to 2020, and focuses on air quality management, water and land pollution. The program is backed by a multi-donor trust fund to achieve three objectives:
To achieve these objectives, PMEH is organized into six components, including technical assistance for air quality management (component 1), chemical and toxic pollution management (component 2) and land-based pollution management to protect marine environments (component 3).
PMEH includes three components that enhance technical assistance and PMEH in selected countries and beyond. Under Component 4, research is conducted to strengthen the evidence and analytical underpinnings of PMEH in developing countries. Component 5 focuses on targeted dissemination of evidence and general awareness rising to improve evidence-based policy making. Finally, component 6 provides program management and implementation support. See the figure and futher details about each component below.
An important feature of PMEH is to foster south-south collaboration: targeted and coordinated knowledge exchange and collaboration across implementing countries can improve pollution management and environmental health in low and middle income countries.
PMEH operations in implementing countries are supported by the PMEH Secretariat in Washington, DC. The PMEH Secretariat coordinates between stakeholders, including between implementing countries and supporting countries; manages internal planning and reporting functions; and promotes global and technical cross-collaboration within the World Bank.
Each component has the following objectives:
Component 1: Provide technical assistance to support international collaboration for strengthening air quality management
Component 2: Provide technical assistance to strengthen management of chemicals and toxic pollution
Component 3: Provide technical assistance to support international collaboration for strengthening land-based pollution management to protect marine environments
Component 4: Conduct research and strengthen analytics for improved pollution management and environmental health
Component 5: Promote dissemination, awareness research uptake for improved pollution management and environmental health
Component 6: Program development and implementation support
The World Bank has experience assisting low and middle income countries in addressing pollution. Some examples include:
Read more about the World Bank’s activities to reduce pollution here.
PMEH Stakeholders (in alphabetical order)
The World Bank on Pollution
Global Pollution Measurement
Air Quality Management
Contaminated Sites Management
Global Burden of Disease and Environmental Health