The world's biodiversity is in trouble, with wildlife crime, the spread of invasive species, and loss of habitat reducing the number of species. The loss has economy-wide consequences, but biodiversity is especially important for the 870 million rural poor whose livelihoods and safety nets are inextricably linked to natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Read More »
Biodiversity includes the diversity within species, the number of species and the diversity of ecosystems – in other words, our renewable natural capital. Biodiversity is essential for ecosystem functions and the functional diversity of ecosystems. Maintaining our natural capital sustains the flow of ecosystem goods and services, including oxygen from forests, pollination services from insects and fish breeding services from mangroves – all essential to our economies, human societies and well-being. The sustainable management of natural capital underlies inclusive green growth. Loss of biodiversity has economy-wide consequences but biodiversity is especially important for the 870 million rural poor in the world whose livelihoods, well-being and safety nets are inextricably linked to natural and semi-natural ecosystems.
Investments in natural capital can reduce vulnerability to climate change.The conversion of natural ecosystems and forests continue to be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. More than 75 percent of carbon from land-based biomass and 40 percent of carbon from the soil comes from forest ecosystems. Deforestation and land conversion contribute about 30 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Currently, about 15 percent of terrestrial carbon is stored in protected areas, and natural forests and ecosystems generally store far more carbon than land use after conversion.
The world is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity and this undermines development opportunities and exacerbates risks for the poor.Thisloss is driven mainly by habitat change, overexploitation, invasive species, climate change and pollution. About 40 percent of the world’s warm water coral reefs have been lost with significant consequences for 350 million people living in coastal areas. And the world is still losing 5.2 million hectares of forests every year.
The World Bank is one of the largest international financiers of biodiversity conservation with a portfolio of 245 projects worth US$1.058 billion in the 10 years from FY2004 to 2013. These projects have been undertaken in 74 countries with the majority in Africa and the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Last Updated: Sep 20,2013
The World Bank works with countries to put policies in place so that biodiversity is valued as a key driver of sustainable development. We help countries improve their administration to better conserve and sustainably use their biodiversity. We invest in those aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services – such as watershed management and protected areas – that help countries achieve their development goals; and we help countries find ways to generate revenues from biodiversity – including through tourism payments for environmental services – that will cover the cost of managing their biodiversity and improve economies.
World Bank biodiversity projects range from support to protected areas, institution building, integrating biodiversity conservation into production landscapes, designing sustainable financing schemes for conservation to promoting nature tourism and fighting invasive alien species.
Last Updated: Sep 20,2013
The World Bank's work toward protecting biodiversity includes establishing and expanding protected area systems, such as the Amazon Region Protected Areas program (ARPA) in Brazil. The program helped double the area of the Brazilian Amazon under strict protection to about 25 million hectares at the end of the project in 2008 and set an additional 10 million hectares aside in sustainable use areas to conserve biodiversity and provide improved livelihoods for traditional forest dwellers.
Co-management of biodiverse areas is important for wildlife conservation. The Kenya Wildlife Conservation Leasing Demonstration Project, for example, has been successful in helping to ensure the long-term ecological viability of Nairobi National Park by providing wildlife access to adjacent areas. Nearly 400 households with some 22,000 hectares of land signed up to receive rent for not fencing off their land and allowing wildlife to roam.
Ensuring biodiversity considerations are factored into World Bank infrastructure projects is another key area of work. For example, in Honduras, a Rural Roads Project included the establishment of a 2,000 ha protected area for the Honduran Emerald, an endemic hummingbird that was being threatened by the paving and widening of a road. In Laos, the Nam Theun II hydroelectricity project led to the establishment of a major new national protected area along the watershed of the Nakai River.
The World Bank Group works closely with partners on issues including tiger habitat, wildlife crime, forest governance, and the oceans. The Bank's investments to protect the oceans include a US$4.9 million grant with GEF to Namibia to help establish a strong platform for governance of the coastal land and seascape and for development of a National Policy on Coastal Management, which was approved in 2012.
Last Updated: Sep 20,2013
Multi-stakeholder partnerships are an increasingly important aspect of the World Bank’s environmental engagement as they pool expertise, access, and resources. These partnerships comprise public sector, private sector, multi-lateral and civil society actors to advance collective action on some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) was launched in 2008 by founding partners the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund, and International Tiger Coalition (representing more than 40 non-government organizations). The GTI is led by the 13 tiger range countries. It is a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, the conservation and scientific community, and the private sector committed to working together toward a common agenda to save wild tigers from extinction. The GTI Secretariat, based at the World Bank in Washington, DC, assists the 13 tiger range countries to carry out their conservation strategies and drive the global tiger conservation agenda, through planning, coordination, and continuous communication.
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) was launched in 2000 to provide grants to non-governmental and private sector organizations to support key biodiversity areas inside protected areas and across production landscapes. To date, CEPF has provided over $137 m to more than 1,600 civil society organizations across 17 global biodiversity hotspots.
The Save Our Species Program combines the financial weight and technical expertise of the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility, the authoritative science of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the resources and ingenuity of the private sector to create a mechanism that ensures funding goes to species conservation projects for the greatest impact. To date, SOS has provided resources to protect 96 species in 36 countries. In 2012, SOS announced new investments of US$3.3 million for 23 projects managed by NGOs to protect threatened species around the world.
The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) launched in 2010 brings together Interpol, the CITES Secretariat, World Customs Union and UNODC with the World Bank to promote effective law enforcement nationally and internationally in support of sustainable development and equitable benefit-sharing for the proceeds from sustainable natural resource management. The Consortium has developed a Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit that it is now being applied in several countries to analyze their state of law enforcement. ICCWC also provides training in investigative techniques to judges, lawyers, and customs and wildlife officials worldwide.
The Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) is a convening platform that can help to reduce the barriers for countries to access the capital and technical assistance they need to restore ocean health and address poverty. Made up of partners from government, the private sector, and multi-lateral and civil society organizations, it helps mobilize the knowledge, financing and capacity needed to implement the solutions that countries want and lead.
Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) is a World Bank–facilitated global partnership that promotes sustainable development by mainstreaming natural resources into a country’s development planning and system of national accounting. WAVES has been working extensively in Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, and the Philippines. At Rio+20 in 2012, 62 countries, 90 private sector organizations, as well as 17 civil society and international organizations expressed their support for natural capital accounting.
The World Bank-financed Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, part of India's national coastal zone management program, seeks to balance development with the protection of the country's vulnerable ecosystems, including its mangroves and coral reefs.
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Around The Bank Group
Find out what the Bank Group's branches are doing on biodiversity.