Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zoellick: Development - Environment trade off

An underlying theme of this blog is the trade off between development economics on the one hand and environmental economics on the other. We could not agree more with the following quote:
"This is all about integrating climate change economics with development economics," Mr Zoellick said. "They are not separate."

The question that motivated us to set up this blog in the first place touches on the same theme:

"Is globalisation good for the environment"

We have subsequently published numerous papers trying to answer that very question.

It is interesting therefore to read this piece from Robert Zoellick (Director of the World Bank) addressing this issue in a recent interview with the Guardian's Larry Elliott.

Whilst Zoellick is saying nothing earth shattering it is reassuring to know that the head of the World Bank is willing to make this point clearly and powerfully in the world's press.

What Zoellick does need to be aware of though is that those in the rich west are going to become less enthusiastic about giving money to the World bank for development projects that involve damaging the environment. Deforestation in the Amazon is a classic example. Creating jobs is one thing, but when those jobs are in the logging industry the World Bank does need to consider the inclusion of environmental impact studies in its poverty reduction project planning.

Aside: Amazon Loggers Hold Greenpeace Activists Captive


Don't neglect poor for sake of the environment, says World Bank boss

The west will fail to combat global warming unless it can convince deeply sceptical poor nations that the fight to reduce carbon emissions will not come at the expense of poverty reduction, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, said last night.

In an interview with the Guardian to mark his first 100 days in the job, Mr Zoellick warned the Bank's rich-country shareholders that "they would not be successful" if they tried to change the focus of the Washington-based institution from development to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is all about integrating climate change economics with development economics," Mr Zoellick said. "They are not separate."

The World Bank president added that he had been travelling at the time of this summer's G8 summit in Germany, which had climate change at the top of the agenda, and that he had "picked up a lot of nervousness among Africans that the big developed countries would move the Bank away from its traditional development agenda to focus on climate change".

His experience as the US trade representative had shown him the dangers of creating the impression that rich countries were foisting something on poor countries. "In my consultations with developed countries my message to them is to please be sensitive. If the impression is given that it [climate change] is a rich country project, you are going to have the devil of trouble getting a turnaround."

He said the Bank was well placed to help integrate adaptation and mitigation strategies to fight global warming into development programmes for poor nations, that it could help set up innovative funding tools, facilitate technology transfer, and act as the catalyst for private sector initiatives. He insisted that the Bank's main focus would remain on poverty reduction.

The Bank is asking rich-country donors to come forward with money for the International Development Association - the body that provides soft loans for the world's poorest countries. Mr Zoellick said he had more than doubled the Bank's contribution to the next round of IDA funding in an attempt to force the hands of reluctant countries in the developed world to provide a $26bn pot of new money.

"It strengthens my hand. It means I can go to developed countries and say 'I've increased the Bank's funding by 100%, what about you?'" Mr Zoellick made it clear that if rich countries wanted the Bank to do more on climate change they would have to stump up additional funds, and insisted it was time for the G8 to fulfil pledges made to poor countries. "The G8 made commitments at Gleneagles, but it is one thing having words in a communiqué, it is another thing to have money in the bank."

He expressed concern that the official aid figures for 2006 showed the first fall since 1997, and that the $11bn reported increase in aid for sub-Saharan Africa since 2004 amounted to $3.5bn when debt relief to Nigeria was excluded.

The World Bank president said he understood the need to build support in developed countries for higher aid, but the proliferation of funds designed to address specific causes popular in the west - such as HIV/AIDS - ran the risk of overwhelming poor countries.

He admitted his job had been tough following the departure of his predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned in the summer after a scandal involving the promotion of his girlfriend. "It's demanding. There is a lot to do. Part of my purpose in coming here was to calm the waters, but also to navigate a course for the future. I've been able to do that."


No comments: