Monday, June 18, 2012

Two new World Bank reports

The past few days has seen the release of a couple of interesting World Bank reports. Yes, they have been associated with some rather misplaced policy initiatives (I'm looking at you, shock therapy!), but they do a good job of bringing together global information and, arguably, have been tarred for the sins of their twin sibling, the IMF.

The first report, Toward a Green, Clean, and Resilient World for All: A World Bank Group Environment Strategy 2012-2022, lays out the Bank's vision of global environmental policy for the next decade. The general point of the report is to underscore the connection between environmental concerns -- particularly at the global scale -- and the Bank's main mission of poverty alleviation, particularly in the developing world. To this end, they articulate the need for a 'green, clean, and resilient world' defined as follows:
  • "What do we mean by “green”? Green refers to a world in which natural resources are conserved and sustainably managed to improve livelihoods over time. It is a world in which ecosystems (both green and blue) are healthy and increase the economic returns from the activities they support—such as the fish-breeding and coastal protection services of coral reefs and the water filtering and soil protection services of forests. Other vital ecosystem services such as erosion regulation, carbon sequestration, and pest control are supported and protected. Subsoil assets are also leveraged to build other forms of wealth, such as productive and human capital. In all of this, the private sector uses natural resources sustainably as part of good business, creating jobs and contributing to long-term growth.
  • "What do we mean by “clean”? Clean refers to a low-pollution, low-carbon world. This is a world in
    which cleaner air, land, water, and oceans enable people to lead healthy, productive lives. It is also
    a world in which cleaner production standards spur innovation—whether through reducing air
    pollution, addressing legacy pollution, or encouraging recycling. It is a world in which industries are built around clean technologies— either for energy, water, transportation, or housing—providing jobs, offering the potential of export-led growth, and contributing to sustainable economic development. It is a world in which the clean technologies and production methods used by the private sector meet or even exceed international standards—partly because of management choices, but also because regulation rewards clean technologies and because clients and investors seek it. It is a world in which governments and companies are held to account by people on their clean performance.
  • “Resilient” means being prepared for shocks and adapting effectively to climate change. In a resilient
    world, countries are better prepared for more-frequent natural disasters, more-volatile weather patterns, and the long-term consequences of climate change. Healthy and well-managed ecosystems are more resilient and so play a key role in reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts. Climate resilience is integrated into urban planning and infrastructure development. Through effective social inclusion policies, countries and communities are better prepared to protect vulnerable groups and fully involve women in decision making.


The second report, What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management, focuses on municipal waste. The world's cities currently generate around 1.3 billion tonnes of MSW a year, or 1.2kg per city-dweller per day, nearly half of which comes from OECD countries. That is predicted to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, or 1.4kg per person. The Bank estimates China's urbanites will throw away 1.4 billion tonnes in 2025, up from 520m tonnes today. By contrast, America's urban rubbish pile will increase from 620m tonnes to 700m tonnes.

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