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To Grow Strong, Grow Green

Wetland in Rwanda

Nyandungu Eco-Park in Kigali, Rwanda. Copyright: World Bank. 

The World Bank Group’s mission is to end poverty on a livable planet. With more than 50 percent of global GDP - $44 trillion in economic resources – dependent on nature, it is critical to understand the economic impact of biodiversity to achieve this mission.

How do we do this?

Taking a Dynamic Approach

Nature is everywhere, not just in national parks.

The World Bank’s vision for biodiversity includes four dynamic ideas:

Beyond the 30x30 Agenda: Integrating Nature Everywhere

While the Global Biodiversity Framework's 30x30 Agenda aims to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, the remaining 70 percent—where nature is interwoven with human activity—cannot be overlooked.

This is evident in the urban wetlands of Kigali, Rwanda.   The city has restored previously degraded areas to transform them into an ecopark, benefiting nature while bringing economic benefits as an engine of increasing land prices, recreation, and tourism. Look around: nature is everywhere, not just in national parks.

Expanding Partnerships for Biodiversity

In the same way we must look for nature beyond national parks, we must build relationships beyond traditional partners. Adding finance ministries, central banks, the private sector, civil society and local communities to our work with environmental ministries forges inclusive partnerships. This allows World Bank resources to get closer to micro and small businesses at the forefront of job creation.

Mobilizing Finance for Nature

Mobilizing finance enables the World Bank to facilitate deals combining international grants with domestic budgets, further unlocking Bank resources to fund large-scale projects that benefit nature, jobs and GDP.

But the amount of financing is not the only consideration. Achieving success with the $14 billion we have currently invested in the environment, natural resources and the ocean also means breaking down barriers to access, so finance flows where it is needed most.

The Importance of Data and Analytics  

Natural capital accounting is pivotal for including nature in government balance sheets so it can inform high-level decision-making. The Global Program on Sustainability transfers expertise to ministries and statistical agencies to integrate natural capital accounting into policy and planning, so the value of nature is intertwined with the development conversation.

Investors also need tools for better decision making. The Sovereign ESG Data Portal, brings indicators and analytical tools to investors who realize the benefits of a high-impact, holistic approach to investing.

Ideas in Action

The value of nature must be part of the development conversation.

Ghana’s Muni Lagoon, facing threats like coastal erosion, mangrove cutting and pollution, is being restored in partnership with PROBLUE. Just 60 km from the capital, Accra, and adjacent to a growing coastal town, it is host to almost 20 species of migratory birds and a nesting ground for three species of vulnerable and endangered marine turtles.  The lagoon and adjacent coastal waters also support a local fishing community. The biodiversity of this lagoon and its continued vitality benefits the community, wildlife and contributes to multiple Sustainable Development Goals.

Substantiating the value of protected areas for tourism and employment adds to our understanding of conservation's importance. For instance, in Zambia, where 40 percent of land is under some kind of protection, 7.2 percent of jobs and 7 percent of people’s incomes are fueled by travel and tourism. Two national parks alone provide 35,000 jobs.

While it is important to celebrate success, that is not the end of the story. Also in Zambia, as wildlife populations have rebounded, human-wildlife conflict has increased. Damage by elephants has resulted in crop production losses of US$3 million to the small farmers near national parks. A similar scenario is playing out on the fringes of Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where success protecting wildlife has meant more crops being eaten or trampled.

The Global Wildlife Program takes on these evolving challenges by working with governments and community leaders to develop strategies and deploy technologies so humans and wildlife prosper together.

As a policy matter, the World Bank's goal is to deepen understanding of biodiversity as a top-tier consideration in decision making. Therefore, it is our aim to increase funding from domestic budgets, the private sector, and international finance. Less than 1 percent of domestic budgets are currently allocated to renewable natural resources. With better data demonstrating the economic value of natural capital, we expect to see a needed increase. Similarly, we offer analysis to help the private sector recognize business risks from environmental degradation and invest more in biodiversity-smart ventures. 

Biodiversity is Indispensable

In our pursuit to end poverty on a livable planet, understanding the economic value of biodiversity is not just necessary—it's indispensable. By recognizing the intricate connections between nature and poverty, we are strategically investing for maximum impact. This means going beyond traditional boundaries, forging partnerships across the whole of society, mobilizing finance to fund large-scale projects benefiting both nature and economies, and leveraging data and analytics to integrate natural capital into decision making at all levels.

With biodiversity at the center of decision-making, we can build a future where nature thrives, poverty declines, and prosperity is shared by all.

Victoria Falls in Zambia. Video courtesy of the Global Wildlife Program. 


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