Ecosystems and biodiversity are important to overcoming poverty. That's why the World Bank Group supports conserving the world's natural resources. As World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said at the recent Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan:
"Productivity of the land and seas is diminishing, and with them the ecosystem services that are crucial for people to get out of poverty. The buffering capacity of our environment is dwindling as climate change accelerates. Endangered species are fading away forever before our very eyes… Preserving ecosystems and saving species are not luxuries for the rich. Conservation and development can go hand in hand."
How We're Helping
Preventing the downward spiral in biodiversity requires a broad coalition, championed not only by environment and forestry ministries, but also by those concerned with economic growth, infrastructure and overcoming poverty, and by the private sector. It also requires working with indigenous communities which play a key role as stewards for biodiversity-rich ecosystems.
In 2008 the World Bank helped launch the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI). This initiative has pioneered a new conservation model, encouraging the 13 tiger range countries to "own" the process. Meeting in St. Petersburg November 22-24, 2010 for the first ever high-level meeting between countries to save an endangered species, tiger range countries have now set specific recovery plans to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. Today, fewer than 3,200 tigers remain in the wild.
- At the summit, Zoellick announced that the World Bank will work to provide up to $100 million to save the wild tiger by supporting wildlife habitat protection and stopping the illegal trade in tiger body parts.
"The tiger is an umbrella species," said Zoellick "When we save tigers, we help save the biodiversity of their prey populations and habitats. So this is about even more than saving a species. The Global Tiger initiative is a symbol of how well we can take care of our planet."
Over the last 20 years, the Bank has supported more than $6 billion in biodiversity conservation in more than 120 countries. Going forward the Bank intends to increase its financing of ecosystem and biodiversity services in a wide range of sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, and climate change.
Working with developing countries, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), other development agencies, civil society and the private sector, the World Bank Group has launched a series of initiatives to protect biodiversity. These include:
- The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund which provides grants for the non-governmental sector and private partners to help protect the Earth's most biologically rich and threatened areas. Since 2000, the Fund has supported conservation activities worth $12.9 million led by more than 1,500 civil society groups.
- The Global Partnership for Ecosystems and Ecosystems Services Valuation and Wealth Accounting, launched in Nagoya, to pilot "green accounting," starting with India and Colombia. Green accounting helps developing countries discover the true economic value of ecosystems, such as the vital carbon storage services that forests provide and the coastal protection values that come from coral reefs and mangroves.
- The Save Our Species initiative (SOS) a joint effort, with the GEF and International Union for the Conservation of Nature, linking private sector financial support (such as from partner company Nokia) with international conservation expertise and cooperation from countries facing species extinction. SOS conservation grants will focus on threatened species and their habitats.
- The Wildlife Premium Market Initiative, enhancing the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program that allows investors to claim carbon credits for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation/forest degradation. This proposal would create a premium market to pay more money to the rural poor for protecting high biodiversity wildlife in forests.