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Transboundary Ecosystem and Shared Water Resource Management

Our deepest engagement on shared ecosystem and water resource issues is in the Mekong River Basin., It is delivered mainly through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) co-financed Mekong River Water Utilization Project, which was launched in 2000 and is now roughly at its mid-way point. This project is helping the four member states of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) develop “rules”, procedures and capacity for jointly managing the water resources and water quality of the Mekong River and its tributaries. The World Bank is also encouraging China, an important upstream riparian, to collaborate with the MRC member states on managing the basin’s water resources.

A second focus of our assistance is the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem. Four of the Bay’s littoral states are our clients (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar) and four (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Maldives) are clients of the World Bank’s South Asia Region. Our collaborative assistance to them is still at an early stage. In partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) we are helping the littoral states jointly assess the Bay’s environmental condition, identify the main threats to its valuable natural resources (on which millions of poor people depend), to determine their source, and to agree on and launch a collaborative Strategic Action Program to address them. The GEF is assisting the process by co-financing the work, jointly with the Government of Sweden.  

A second regional water resource-related activity we’ve just launched jointly with the GEF is the World Bank/GEF Pollution Reduction Fund for the Large Marine Ecosystems of East Asia. The rationale for this initiative is that, despite almost US$1 billion per year of World Bank investment in water pollution measures in the East Asia region, the region’s coastal and marine ecosystems are becoming more and more heavily polluted. This is destroying their natural resources, particularly their fish and shell-fish, and causing serious health problems for the people who live on or near them. So the World Bank and GEF have formed a partnership to accelerate public and private investment in pollution reduction to which the GEF has pledged $80 million in grant and concessional funding.

The planned World Bank/GEF/FAO sub-regional Livestock Waste Management Project is an innovative new effort to address this same problem. Involving Thailand, Vietnam and China’s Guangdong Province, it will be the region’s first large-scale, policy-based initiative to address the rapidly-escalating environmental problems of industrial-scale livestock (particularly pig) rearing. Industrial livestock production has exploded in popularity throughout the East Asia region in recent years and is causing tremendous land and water pollution problems. The project will raise awareness of the problem and its solutions, strengthen and promote more effective enforcement of related environmental laws and regulations and demonstrate cost-effective pollution reduction measures, in collaboration with large-scale industrial livestock producers. 

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