Air, land, and water pollution caused 9 million premature deaths in 2016, or 16% of all deaths worldwide. About 92% of all pollution-related mortality is seen in low-income and middle-income countries, with the poor, marginalized, and young hardest hit by the health effects of the contamination. The economic burden is immense: in 2019, air pollution alone cost the global economy US$8.1 trillion—6.1 percent of global GDP.
The World Bank is committed to supporting countries most severely impacted by pollution by providing technical assistance on pollution management, facilitating knowledge generation and sharing, and raising awareness about the detrimental impact on global health.
Over the past 12 years, FY04–17, the World Bank Group approved 534 pollution- relevant activities, accounting for approximately US$43 billion in commitments. These projects have contributed significantly resulting in air pollution reduction in Peru, Pakistan, and Vietnam and easing contamination on land and in rivers in a number of developing countries.
Over the last several years, stakeholders across low and middle-income countries have expressed an urgent need for increased support on pollution management in order to respond to the magnitude of the threat to human health and economies. Responding to pollution is a challenge that is solvable in the near term to save lives and unlock economic opportunity through action at the local, national, regional and global levels.
The World Bank established a Multi-donor Trust Fund for Pollution Management and Environmental Health to promote more systematic and effective responses to deadly and costly air pollution.
PMEH was launched to provide increased support on pollution management in order to respond to the magnitude of the threat to human health and economic growth. PMEH focuses on air quality management, water pollution, and toxic sites management and currently operates in China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, South Africa and Vietnam.
An important feature of PMEH is to foster south-south collaboration: targeted and coordinated knowledge exchange and collaboration across implementing countries can improve pollution management and environmental health in low and middle income countries.
The program is backed by a multi-donor trust fund to achieve three objectives:
PMEH is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
PMEH operations in implementing countries are supported by the PMEH Secretariat in Washington, DC. The PMEH Secretariat coordinates between stakeholders, including between implementing countries and supporting countries; manages internal planning and reporting functions; and promotes global and technical cross-collaboration within the World Bank.
WHO estimates that around 7 million people die each year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that lead to diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Furthermore, the economic burden of air pollution—in terms of both damage to health and loss of productivity—is immense for the world and for individual countries. Ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution alone cost the global economy $5.7 trillion, or 4.8 percent, of global GDP in 2016. To combat this threat, PMEH has two interconnected goals. The first is to develop robust air quality management plans, driven by quality data, which will provide the basis for implementing projects that will reduce high levels of air pollutants in a cost-effective manner. The second is to simultaneously reduce short-term climate pollutants and levels of greenhouse gases. PMEH does so by including in its target pollutants several short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon—that have negative impacts on both human health and the global climate and by showing how reducing local air pollution also reduces climate pollutants.
City-Scale Air Quality Management Planning in Vietnam
Integrated Approach to Pollution Management for Lagos, Nigeria
Deploying cutting-edge satellite monitoring for Egypt
Strengthening Approaches to Air Quality Management in South Africa
Air Pollution Prevention and Control in Hebei, China, including Beijing
China’s National Program for Particulate Matter (PM) Reduction
PMEH is involved in three ongoing research projects:
Improving Air Quality Monitoring and Estimating Health Risks and Other Effects of Ambient Air Pollution in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
This research aims to strengthen knowledge and develop guidance that will help low- and middle-income countries generate reliable air quality monitoring data, such as can be used as a basis for the design, implementation, and enforcement of policies and actions to improve air quality management. Another goal is to test the application of satellite-derived air quality measurements and explore their use in countries where air quality monitoring networks are weak or non-existent. Finally, the research aims to generate knowledge about methodologies for estimating the health risks and effects of ambient air pollution, including a better understanding of health effects from exposure to particles from both natural sources and combustion processes.
Multistakeholder technical workshops:
The World Bank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency jointly organized two technical workshops, Filling the Gaps: Improving Measurement of Air Quality in Developing Countries, in July and December 2017. More than 50 participants from low-, middle-, and high-income countries—representing governments, academic and research institutions, the private sector, and multilateral organizations— discussed and shared state-of-the-art knowledge about current practices and latest findings on air quality monitoring and on satellite and remote-sensing technologies.
Assessing the Health Impacts and Related Economic Impacts of Toxic Land Pollution
PMEH is working to close the knowledge gaps and lack of robust data that make assessing the health risks of toxic land pollution in low and middle-income countries difficult. To close these gaps, PMEH launched ongoing work on research methodologies that can assess both the health impacts and the related economic costs of toxic land pollution, along with mitigation and remediation options. The objective of this research is to improve existing methodologies and knowledge, and ultimately to support countries’ efforts to reduce people’s exposure to land-based toxic pollution and to develop proposals that can lead to remediation.
Reports and Papers:
Pollution Management and the Development of Prosperous Cities
This research aims to investigate the linkage between environmental pollution and the prosperity and competitiveness of cities, providing new evidence of the impact of pollution on productivity and its economic implications in fast-growing cities in Africa and Asia. Through evidence-based case studies, the project will generate outputs ranging from academic publications to a tool that will support practical decisions by policy makers and urban planners.
PMEH Annual Reports
The World Bank on Pollution
Opportunities and challenges for filling the air quality data gap in low-and middle-income countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)
Evaluating the use of satellite observations to supplement ground-level air quality data in selected cities in low-and middle-income countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)
Risk Analysis Approaches to Evaluating Health Impacts from Land-Based Pollution in low-and Middle-Income Countries (External product co-authored by World Bank Staff)
Other Related Reports and Papers
World Bank to Support China’s War on Air Pollution
Understanding Air Pollution and the Way it is Measured
New Little Green Data Book Paints Striking Picture of Pollution
Clean Air and Healthy Lungs: How to Better Tackle Air Pollution
A plea for Action Against Pollution in Nigeria
Cleaner Bricks for Better Air in Dhaka