In late 2009, the World Bank Group started the process of renewing its environment strategy. Key among the set of questions posed to countries, civil society groups, private companies and others was: “How can the World Bank Group help developing countries grow and fight poverty while ensuring environmental sustainability?” By July 2010, teams had consulted with more than 2,300 people from 126 countries.
The message that came back was loud and clear. The current economic model, driven by unsustainable growth and consumption patterns, was putting too much pressure on an already stretched environment. Despite economic growth that had helped lift many out of poverty, countries were faced with the multiple challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and adverse impacts on health from air and water pollution. Countries called on the World Bank Group to help set the tone for a `new development paradigm’, sending signals to the public and private sectors to follow.
The World Bank Group’s new Environment Strategy 2012-2022 attempts to respond to these calls. It lays out a vision for a “Green, Clean, and Resilient World for All,” and provides a roadmap for its frontline staff working with countries facing environmental challenges.
“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.”
This is the first time that an environment strategy has been developed jointly by the World Bank and its private sector arms, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), bringing a greater focus on private sector involvement in environmental management.
Putting this vision into action requires work around three pillars. "Green" focuses on nurturing greener, more-inclusive growth while protecting biodiversity. "Clean" focuses on managing pollution and finding low-emission paths to development. Through a focus on "resilience" it also aims to reduce countries’ vulnerability to shocks, especially climate risks.