If the world is to confront the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change while meeting the demands of a rapidly-growing global population, it is vital that we find the balance between conserving and regenerating forest areas with economic growth for poverty reduction. This is what the World Bank’s work on forests aims to achieve.
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Kazakhstan is blessed by vast but fragile spaces. The country is ninth in terms of total size, and though it boasts the third largest forest area in Europe and Central Asia, trees make up less than fi... Show More +ve percent of the overall landscape.That’s why the saplings, seed laboratories and firefighters in Semey, Kazakhstan, are so important. Semey, in the eastern part of the country, sits next to the Irtysh Pine Forest, nearly 700,000 hectares of fragile, yet important, land.“The biggest part of this project is the money spent on new firefighting equipment, to cut down on illegal logging, and to detect lightning strikes,” says Murat Baimukhametov, who is working with the World Bank to help re-plant and restore the forest.Protecting the Forest with a Computer ScreenThe most revolutionary part of the project moves fire detection from the casual glance to a state-of-the-art computer system. Technicians now monitor the forest via computer, looking for lightning strikes, smoke, or any activity out of the ordinary. The system relies on a series of cameras mounted on watchtowers and sprinkled throughout the forest.What it means is that firefighters can respond to trouble with greater speed and accuracy than in the recent past, explains Vladimir Kurmangaliyev, who works at the forestry fire station. “The new equipment allows us to move more quickly, and once we get to the fire, we can deploy faster.” Show Less -
Washington, September 30, 2014 – Belizeans will manage natural resources more sustainably in Key Biodiversity Areas, and alternative livelihoods opportunities will be provided to local communities as ... Show More +a result of a US$6 million Global Environment Facility (GEF) project approved by the Board of Directors.“Like the rest of the Caribbean, Belize is most vulnerable to hurricanes. It is only by protecting its forest and rich environmental resources, as well as supporting reforestation that it can mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.Belize has the largest barrier reef in the Americas and the highest forest cover in both Central America and the Caribbean, including intact virgin forest. The country is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Despite having succeeded in preserving its forest and outstanding biodiversity to a greater extent than its neighbors, forest cover has decreased over the last decade. Belize’s rich biodiversity remains under threat by deforestation as a result of the expansion of agriculture, housing, tourism, and forest fires.The Management and Protection of Key Biodiversity Areas project will:Increase the number of hectares under sustainable forest management by more than two folds in targeted areasEnhance biodiversity protection in six targeted protected areasProvide alternative livelihoods options and training to local forest communities on sustainable harvesting and marketing of non-timber forest productsStrengthen capacity of the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, and other institutions to improve management and compliance monitoring of forest resources and environmentThis five year project is financed by a US$6 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and US$3 million in kind counterpart financing from the Government of Belize. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, September 30, 2014 – More than 35,000 vulnerable people, including isolated indigenous and forest communities, will benefit from new and improved sustainable water and sanitation and bette... Show More +r basic public services. The World Bank approved a US$ 150 million loan for Brazil’s Acre state, in northwest Amazon.The new financing will expand the existing Acre Social and Economic Inclusion Project (PROACRE), which has benefited more than 700,000 people to date. The additional financing will focus on the isolated municipalities of Santa Rosa dos Purus, Marechal Thaumaturgo, Jordão and Porto Walter in the Amazon forest. “Since PROACRE was launched in 2008, the State has improved considerably the living standards of the poorest population in urban and rural areas,” said Sebastião Viana, Governor of the State of Acre. “This new phase will allow us to bring basic services to a greater number of isolated communities, and also help rural producers join in sustainable market chains, expanding social inclusion in parts of the state that have been historically difficult to reach.”(TBC).Located in the far west of Brazil, Acre has an area as large as Tunisia, and retains 88 percent of its original forest cover. In the early 2000’s, the Government began a series of reforms to open a path to faster and more sustainable growth. However, Acre continues to face crucial development challenges. The state’s per capita GDP remains 60 percent below Brazil’s average, and poverty numbers are higher than in the rest of the country, with more than 133,000 people living with up to US$ 1 per day.“Social inclusion is crucial to help people leave extreme poverty, especially for those living in Acre’s remote areas,” said Deborah L. Wetzel, World Bank Director for Brazil. “This new operation will help consolidate Acre’s successful model of sustainable development and help bring education, health, sustainable production services and infrastructure to these vulnerable populations.”Recognizing the rich and diverse traditions and cultural backgrounds in the state, the project tailors actions to each community's characteristics and service delivery approaches, through a participatory mechanism. Among other activities, the new financing willSupport the construction of water treatment facilities and implementation of 1,120 new piped households water connections in isolated communities;Help pave community roads and construct river ramps improve access to services by road and boat; andPromote the adoption of integrated solid waste management, and the implementation of sustainable landfills.This US$150 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to the State of Acre is guaranteed by the Government of Brazil. The loan period is 25 years, including a 5 year grace period Show Less -
WASHINGTON, September 22, 2014—As more than 120 world leaders converge on New York this week for an unprecedented UN climate summit, one highly significant voice needs to be heard. That voice be... Show More +longs to Africa. In all the global discussions around rising sea levels, shrinking rain forests, imperiled species and biodiversity, green bonds and carbon prices, Africa’s unique stake and contribution to a global climate strategy needs to be more front and center. This is only right for a continent that has contributed the least to the profound changes underway in the Earth’s climate but whose people will suffer its withering impact the most.Consider that Africa is responsible for only 3.8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions yet from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa to the south of the continent, African countries experience first-hand the devastating effects of increasingly severe droughts and floods and more extreme weather patterns that scorch or drown their crops. Africa’s political and business leaders are already committed to a climate-resilient growth path, yet the path promises to be bumpy. Recent World Bank research outlines a disturbing scenario for Sub-Saharan Africa in a 2°C warmer world, forecasting dramatic effects on agriculture and food production in a region where 80 percent of Africans rely on agriculture to make ends meet for their families. Consequently, we cannot separate agriculture and food security from climate change. Agriculture in Africa accounts for 30-40 percent of GDP. A 1.5°C to 2°C increase in temperature by the 2030s and 2040s will lead to a 40- to 80-percent reduction in the area of land suitable for growing maize, millet and sorghum. These cereals are the mainstay of African diets. They provide the bulk of people’s daily food intake especially in the drylands of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. We must also amplify the links between climate change and conflict. In a groundbreaking 2013 paper published in Science magazine, economists Solomon Hsiang, Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel argued that there is strong evidence linking climatic events to human conflict in Africa and across all other major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate change is substantial they wrote: for each one standard deviation change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%.Africa’s harsher climate of the future will also change traditional livelihoods. As temperatures rise, Africa’s iconic savanna grasslands will dry up and threaten the livelihoods of their pastoral communities. Given the sensitivity of livestock—their goats, cows, and other animals—to extreme heat, too little water and feed, and disease, pastoralism as a centuries-old way of life is likely to be in danger.Rainfall patterns will dramatically change; droughts and floods will be more frequent and lead to a 3-percent expansion in total arid areas. Coastal populations in Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Mozambique would face the greatest risk of inundation and storm surges. Coastal erosion represents a major threat as a large part of Africa’s GDP derives from activities such as fishing, tourism and trade. Entire cities and villages along the coast – capital cities and crucial deep-sea ports -- could be wiped out due to rising sea-levels. Countries such as Togo, Ghana and Mozambique could lose more than 50 percent of their coastal GDP, according to recent estimates. Sustainable management of the region’s rich natural resources—forests, water, land—can contribute to the storage of carbon, while supporting livelihoods and generating economic benefits. Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, also harbors 5 percent of the world’s known biodiversity. Before the country’s political crisis, nature-based tourism was a $500-million industry, growing at 10 percent per year. But the island is also on the list of the most climate change-vulnerable countries which will have a significant impact on its biodiversity.Africa is one of the world’s fastest-urbanizing continents. Parched rural hinterlands will steadily force people to move to already-crowded cities, creating overcrowding, stressing supplies of safe drinking water and drainage and sanitation.At the African Union Summit in Malabo, last June, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete reminded his audience that the “effects of climate change are likely to strike to the detriment of the whole continent". He added that Africa now requires in excess of US$15 billion per year to combat climate change, a figure that continues to rise.The good news is that Africa is uniquely well positioned to build resilience, especially in energy and agriculture, and has already embraced sustainability. Being green is good for business. In Kenya, small farmers are now earning carbon credits from sustainable farming. In South Africa, the city of Johannesburg recently issued its first green city bond to finance low-carbon infrastructure. In Mauritania, solar energy now powers 30 percent of Nouakchott’s energy use. In Africa, wind and solar potential can be over 1,000 GW but needs to be fully exploited.The continent has embarked on a clean power revolution that brings more electricity to people’s homes, businesses, clinics and schools. With only one in three Africans having access to energy, the task is urgent. Africa has tremendous untapped hydro, geothermal, and solar power and must be developed to provide the electricity needed to offer sustained – and green – growth for the benefit of all its citizens.The World Bank is stepping up to the challenge. We are financing transformational projects that attack poverty from multiple angles. We are supporting governments to promote “climate-smart agriculture” so that African farmers can achieve higher yields and make their farming more resilient to the changing climate. In DRC, a $73.1-million technical assistance project will pave the way to bring hydroelectric power to 9 million people. These interventions are just a starting point – not nearly enough to address the monumental energy needs of the continent. Though prices for renewables have declined significantly in the past decade, these energy sources are still costly. The green energy revolution in African cannot be achieved without financial support of the international community, to bring down the costs of adopting these clean technologies. The warning signs are clear: climate change under even the 2°C scenario is a menacing threat to sustainable development in Africa. These impacts could potentially overwhelm existing development efforts. We ignore the early warning signs at our collective peril. But, through collective action, we can ensure a climate-resilient future that benefits all Africans and the entire planet. Show Less -