Consultation meeting on World Bank environmental strategy

Istanbul, 5 October 2009

6 October 2009 | Minutes

Presentation by Michelle De Nevers, World Bank

  • Key hypothesis of new approach is that the basic components of 2001 strategy (focus on poverty reduction) are sound: need to focus on implementation.
  • Lending classified as ‘environment and natural resources = 10% of total lending. Also have global programmes and partnerships, for example on climate change.
  • Think that they have had some success in incorporating awareness of environment into all sectors of WB work. But a lot of challenges still remain – e.g. burden of environmental disease; poor enforcement etc. Other challenges such as growing urbanisation; climate change etc.
  • Many recommendations of 2008 IEG evaluation have been taken on board.
  • Consultation
    • Phase 1 – Global Dialogue started one week ago, ends February. Consultation on the draft concept note, and on analytical work. Reports on all consultations will be posted on the website. So will comments that are sent in.
    • Phase 2- June – Aug 09 = consultations on draft strategy (which will be produced in the spring)
  • Aim is to look at overall portfolio, safeguards etc.
  • Questions they pose
    • What should role of Bank be (given it is a relatively small source of finance.)
    • What should balance be between being country-driven and achieving global public goods.
    • What about the IFC?
    • Should there be a systematic approach to assessing environmental sustainability in overall portfolio

    • How to balance short and long term trade-offs.


Kirk Herbertson, WRI

  • Policy will not be a binding strategy, staff will be accountable for it – what can we therefore expect from it?
  • Process is as important as the outcome – will need to generate agreement through the strategy
  • Need to reach a consensus on some of the definitions; e.g. can we move the Bank’s understanding from GDP growth model to sustainable human and environment development model? What would this mean for, for example, investments in infrastructure
  • Will need clear accountability and reporting.
  • Also need prioritisation among environmental issues
  • Also need coordination between safeguards, disclosure, energy strategy etc and environment strategy
  • Seems to be a lack of acknowledgement of social dimensions, accountability
  • Need to make sure there is effective consultation – currently there is a disconnect
  • Areas of tension: has mainstreaming environment agenda been successful? ‘Mainstreaming’ has lost much of its meaning within the Bank. For example, has there been better staff incentives, consensus building etc. Also at project level, need to improve largely worthless environmental impact assessments.
  • Also the idea of accountability – need for measurable goals, public reporting, access to recourse etc.
  • Principle of ‘do no harm’ – what does this mean for the Bank? Should be a human rights aspect to this, and stronger implementation of standards.
  • Need to change cultural assumption that it’s either access to energy or renewables.
  • Why is IPCC approach not appropriate for the Bank?

Questions and comments

  • How to make sure independent reviews, World Commission on Dams etc are central to review.
  • Need for in-country consultations.
  • How can Bank call their environment ‘strategy’ effective if most staff don’t follow it? Need to raise awareness of staff.
  • How were CSOs involved in development of existing policies?
  • Access to information is important too, including for CSOs. How to take into account the views of affected people?
  • Renewables includes hydropower, 60% of funds are for fossil fuels. Zero fossil fuel investment should be part of Bank’s strategy. Will they direct funding to renewable energy.
  • Starting point for Bank should be the Bank’s poor record on its overall portfolio – need to for example measure greenhouse gas emissions independently.
  • Serious problems of how the Bank measures its lending and how much is ‘clean’ – have a debate about this figure is developed, for example through ‘cleaning’ fossil fuels. Bank should use IPCC approach – not develop its own methodology – will cause misunderstanding and problems of comparability.
  • Can you ask those who you are lending money to to also be climate neutral.
  • What are the tangible results of the existing environment strategy.
  • What lessons learned reviews will be done after end of 2001 strategy? Will these be published?

Responses to questions by Michelle De Nevers, World Bank

  • Recommendations of IEG, World Commission on Dams and other reviews are not mandatory; board has already made decisions on these, though they will be looked at again as part of the review
  • Are planning regional and country office consultations.
  • Will coordinate with other strategies – energy strategy (currently being consulted on) in particular will look at climate issues. Bank plans to hire a world expert on renewable energy to work with country teams.
  • Responsibility of staff is to confirm to board that work is consistent with strategy.
  • Interest in using budget support type financing in environment and climate change.
  • Don’t currently have funding for research and development
  • Have active programme of greening the Bank. Phase one is greening own facilities.
  • Agree that the WOrld Bank website is difficult to navigate.
  • WOrld Bank Institute have programmes of capacity development in many countries.
  • Adaptation is the number one priority of climate change strategy. Just launched a major new study on the economics of adaptation to developing countries. Think the costs will be $75-100bn per year between now and 2050.
  • Have done training sessions for African negotiators in climate change negotiations.
  • Funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency is 40%. This does not include clean coal or large hydro. Only 25% is fossil fuels. It will take time to make transmission to renewables. ENeegy needs can’t be met today by renewables. Depends on what’s affordable in countries and what their energy strategy.
  • Methodology for measuring grenhouse gas emissions is being developed.
  • Try to encourage green technology; don’t have a technology centre ourselves.
  • There will be a review to unbundle the numbers of what proportion of projects are clean.
  • Clients don’t generally like conditionality in projects.
  • Environmental issues don’t necessarily become priorities in strategy decisions because they’re only one among many. Hoping to get balancing funding sources so that this doesn’t always happen – will have to go through management consultation at the Bank.
  • A lot of analytical work on measuring health impacts of environmental damages.
  • Don’t believe that there is seen as being choice between energy access and renewables. Recognition that off-grid can be useful in remote areas.
  • Will be asking question of whether there is a need for separate vice-president for environment.
  • Will pass on comments on greenhouse gas methodologies.
  • Provide a lot of analytical support and lending for sustainable agriculture in developing countries.
  • Will be reviewing safeguards and other aspects of previous strategy as part of the analytical work – will put this on the website.