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Conclusions: World Bank

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ifc globeConclusions: IFC


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bank logo smallConclusions: World Bank Group

The World Bank has made progress in including environmental concerns in its strategies, lending, and nonlending activities, but the operational significance and impact of these efforts have varied over time and across themes, countries, and issues.

In terms of lending, for example, the portfolio analysis and country case studies show that some instruments, such as Montreal Protocol and Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants to reduce ozone-depleting substances, have contributed to positive environmental outcomes. Other Bank-supported interventions—such as rural land and watershed management projects, as in Brazil, China, and India, community-based forest management projects, as in India, and biodiversity projects, as in Brazil, China, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Russia, and Uganda—have generally also met their objectives. Buut use of dedicated credit lines to abate industrial pollution in several countries has not proven to be the most effective approach from an environmental perspective, while attempts to strengthen capacity for environmental management have made progress in some countries, such as Brazil and China, but not in others, such as India and, initially, Madagascar. Such operations have generally been more effective when actions to strengthen institutions were combined with investments to protect environmental assets.

Bank financial commitments for the environment and natural resource management have increased since the 2001 Strategy was adopted.

The overall increase in commitments in recent years, however, is explained in part by greater use of Development Policy Loans in Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia), although their results in terms of environmental improvement have not yet been assessed. Investment lending for environmental issues, though imprecisely measured, seems to have remained low, as these concerns have not featured as high operational priorities for Bank financial assistance in many client countries. The volume of GEF grants and funding for the global environment more generally has also increased over this period, which has helped leverage financing from other sources, including the Bank and IFC. Increasing support has also been given for carbon finance to help address climate change issues. However, Bank-administered GEF grants declined both in number and funding volume in fiscal 2006-07.

Bank nonlending activities for the environment have also been important.

Economic and sector work has increased in recent years, including Country Environmental Analyses (CEAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA), among other forms of analytical and advisory activities. Some of these activities have had an important influence on national policies and institutions. One example is the technical cooperation provided to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere on the role of public disclosure in industrial pollution management.

Environmental problems are a rapidly growing concern in middle-income countries, but results of Bank support have varied greatly, while Bank performance in environmental and natural resource management projects has been weaker in lower-income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the case of the Africa, while experience across countries varies and despite considerable support for elaboration and implementation of National Environmental Action Plans, Bank financial support for the environment in Ghana, Madagascar, and Uganda has largely focused on technical assistance for capacity building and biodiversity conservation (and there has been even less activity in Senegal). While these concerns are not insignificant, much less attention has been given to the urban environment and, more importantly, considering the essential role of natural resources for both environmental sustainability and rural livelihoods, to land, watershed, river basin, and forest management.

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