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Data: Environment
Projects: Environment and Natural Resources
Documents & Reports:
  • Economic growth has lifted 660 million people out of poverty in the past 20 years. At the same time, environment has been under assault. Some 85 percent of the global ocean fisheries are categorized as fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted. Overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss threaten the world’s oceans. Biodiversity loss is occurring at the fastest rate in the modern era, with species numbers and population sizes dropping almost 30 percent in the past 100 years. The global market in illegal wildlife trade is estimated at over $70 billion per year, dwarfing the value of software piracy ($59 billion).
  • Important contributions to the economy of natural capital like forests, wetlands, and agricultural land are not fully captured in national accounts or may be hidden, especially in low-income countries where natural capital makes up a significant share (36 percent) of total wealth.
  • The lack of action to address health-impairing air and water pollution is costing some countries the equivalent of between 4 and 9 percent of GDP per year.
  • From 1991 - 2012, the World Bank channeled $17.8 billion in loans and credits and GEF Grants, and $19.6 billion in other funds, to finance over 750 projects that address a range of environmental challenges in countries with economies in transition.

World Bank Group Environment Strategy 2012-2022
June 2012 saw the launch of the new World Bank Group Environment Strategy. It articulates a vision for a Green, Clean and Resilient World for Alland prioritizes scaled-up action in the following key areas over the next 10 years, focusing on:
  • Restoring global ocean health
  • Rolling out natural capital accounting
  • Low-emission development
  • Managing pollution
  • Adapting to climate change
  • Managing disaster risks, and
  • Improving resilience of small island states
Partnerships for change

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are becoming an increasingly important aspect of World Bank engagement on environment, pooling expertise, access, and resources. These partnerships comprise public sector, private sector, multi-lateral and civil society actors to advance collective action on some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

On June 21, 2012 in Rio, a Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) was formally launched as a coalition of governments, companies, and multi-lateral and civil society organizations committed to working together to prepare time-bound investment packages for healthier oceans.

Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) seeks to support countries in implementing NCA. Partners include UN agencies, national governments, NGOs, and academic institutions, in addition to developing and developed country partners. Together, they aim to implement natural capital accounting according to UN standards to develop an agreed methodology for measuring ecosystem services. At Rio+20, through the World Bank Group-facilitated "50:50" campaign, the public and private sectors joined forces in support of including natural capital in economic decisions and business operations. Our goal of 50 representatives from each sector were exceeded, achieving 62 countries and 90 private sector entities, alongside 17 international and civil society organizations joining to express support.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) provides grants for non-governmental and private sector organizations to support key biodiversity areas inside protected areas and across production landscapes. To date, CEPF has provided support to over 1,600 civil society organizations.

The Save Our Species Program brings together the private and public sectors to provide support to civil society organizations to protect threatened and endangered species. In 2012, SOS announced new investments of US$ 3.3 million for 23 projects to reduce extinction risk around the world.

The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) seeks to promote effective law enforcement nationally and internationally to support sustainable development and equitable benefit-sharing of the proceeds from sustainable natural resource management.

Integrating Global Environment Facility and Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund grant resources into client development programs
As an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund, the World Bank finances projects that address some of the developing world’s most pressing environmental problems. These include problems around the depletion of biological diversity, the failing health of international waters, encroaching land degradation and desertification, proliferation of persistent organic pollutants and elimination of ozone depleting substances. These problems often have a disproportionate negative impact on vulnerable communities.

Assisting countries manage pollution

World Bank pollution management priorities focus on air pollution, river basin clean-up and addressing legacy pollution. Our projects have improved the management of solid and hazardous waste and wastewater and helped control land and air pollution related to transport, industry, energy, mining and worked to improve air quality across all Bank regions.

  • In FY12, the World Bank approved 44 environment-related partnerships, technical assistance, and operations, the latter worth $668 million.
  • As a partner to the 120-member GPO, the World Bank is actively facilitating its development and launch, including by coordinating its existing oceans portfolio of over US$1.4 billion along with partners’ investments for priority ocean areas.
  • We are helping to implement a comprehensive $840-million river basin clean-up project in Argentina, helping Egypt leverage $166 million to demonstrate cost-effective solutions for pollution abatement subprojects, and helping address sources of air pollution in Bangladesh.
  • The Bank supported the Government of Kazakhstan to clean up mercury pollution in a 60 hectare industrial site and an 18 kilometer stretch of the Nura’s riverbanks and flood plains to reduce associated health risks
For more information, please see:

Elisabeth Mealey: (202) 458-4475,

Updated September 2012

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