The World Bank Group integrates the principles of sustainable development into its work with clients across all sectors and regions.
Those principles are also at the heart of the World Bank Group’s mission statement released in 2013 and are aligned with its overarching goals to end extreme poverty and promote share prosperity:
“Ending extreme poverty within a generation and promoting shared prosperity must be achieved in such a way as to be sustainable over time and across generations. This requires promoting environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability. We need to secure the long-term future of our planet and its resources so future generations do not find themselves in a wasteland. We also must aim for sustained social inclusion and limit the size of economic debt inherited by future generations.”
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly is expected to launch the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a proposed set of goals, targets and indicators that countries will use over the next 15 years as a framework for designing their agendas and policies. Finance will be a critical cornerstone of the SDGs, and the World Bank Group is supporting the design and implementation of financing solutions to meet the needs of the post-2015 agenda.
The World Bank Group’s work in sustainable development can be found prominently in its urban development projects, including support for energy efficiency improvements in buildings, public transit, and carefully planned development based on low-carbon growth and social inclusion, including public services, among other areas.
The Bank’s Inclusive Green Growth report provided an analytical framework and priority steps for helping clients design public policies and encourage the investments needed to strengthen sustainable development and improve standards of living in rapidly developing countries. Much that is useful can be done now: clean air and water and solid waste management are basic needs, and many urban planning and environmental policies enhance productivity and poverty alleviation. Ultimately, sustainable growth hinges on good growth policy, which aims to get prices right, fix markets, address coordination failures and acknowledge externalities.
In rural areas, the Bank emphasizes resource-efficient, climate-smart agriculture practices and a landscape approach that recognizes the interdependence of forests, water supplies, and food security. The Bank Group is committed to the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative: achieving universal access to energy, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global mix by 2030.
In response to the Turn Down the Heat reports, which spell out the dangers of climate change, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has called for a plan equal to the scale of the climate problem.
Ensuring the success of sustainable development requires indicators to monitor performance. The Bank Group is working with partners to develop greenhouse gas accounting standards and tools, measures for green growth, and national accounting indicators for comprehensive wealth that can help determine if growth is sustainable in the long run. Helping countries develop natural capital accounting practices also underpins the transition to greener growth that sustains environmental assets—water, land, air, ecosystems, and the services they provide—for future generations.
There is no single model for sustainable development. Strategies will vary across countries, reflecting local contexts. But all countries, rich and poor, have opportunities to make their growth greener and more inclusive without slowing it.