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Water

Moving the Needle on Healthier Environments and Sustainable Development

Rachel Kyte's picture

Over the past few days of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings, it’s been exciting to see just how much interest and real commitment there is among the world’s finance ministers to move toward inclusive green growth and sustainable development.

Several finance ministers at the Rio breakfast with Ban Ki-moon, Bob Zoellick, and Christine Lagarde talked about the need for better national wealth measurements that incorporate natural resources. Some were already implementing new forms of natural capital accounting. Others wanted to know more.

They were absolutely clear about two things: They want better methodology, data, and evidence to help guide them on the path to sustainable development, and they see a clear role for the World Bank as a source of that knowledge.

Leaders of UN, World Bank, IMF Discussing Sustainable Development with Finance Ministers

Rachel Kyte's picture

This year, the World Bank’s spring meetings are offering a rare opportunity for the heads of the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the IMF to jointly talk to finance ministers from around the world about the critical importance of inclusive green growth and careful stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.

The venue is a breakfast meeting this morning with over 30 national finance ministers. The meeting will be private – and powerful. We’re hoping for an open and frank discussion among ministers on how to achieve concrete outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in June.

Getting to Sustainable Development, Inclusively and Efficiently

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Sustainable development is built on the triple bottom line: economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social development - or prosperity, planet, people. Without careful attention to all three, we cannot create a sustainable world.

In the 25 years since sustainable development was coined as a term, there has been progress, but the pathway to sustainable development must now be more inclusive green growth.

Why Kenya needs a world-class port in Mombasa

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Suppose all of Kenya’s borders suddenly close. Goods and people can no longer enter or exit the country through the port of Mombasa, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or roadways. Quickly the lack of fuel brings economic activity—and daily life— to a stand-still. Tea and flowers rot in warehouses, and hotels shut their doors for lack of visitors.

Now imagine a situation where Kenya is trading with the whole world, producing world class products and enriching its citizens: consumers can enjoy cheaper products, and exporters exploit expanded opportunities. Given the choice, which scenario would you pick? 

A more open Kenya is indeed possible. According to the “Growth Commission”, there have been some 15 economies over the last 50 years which managed to grow at the rate of 7 percent a year for more than 15 years. In doing so they were able to move vast numbers of their citizens out of poverty. These countries have a few things in common, including that they embraced the world economy through trade. Openness to trade encouraged international firms to invest. Over time, local firms caught up and eventually became world leaders, such as Samsung.

A recipe for good health: safe water and sanitation

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

Also available in: Français中文 Drinking water from a pump in Mali (credit: Curt Carnemark).

On the eve of World Water Day (March 22), there is some good public health news that is unrelated to medical care for the “sick,” but to a critical investment that makes people healthier and more productive, and promises a higher quality of life, particularly among the poor.

The 2012 UNICEF/World Health Organization report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation, says that at the end of 2010, 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, had access to improved drinking water. This means that the related Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has been met well ahead of the 2015 deadline. The report also predicts that by 2015, 92% of people will have access to better drinking water.

But, the not-so-good news is that only 63% of the world has improved sanitation access, a figure projected to increase only to 67% by 2015, well below the 75% MDG aim. Currently 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation.  The report also highlights the fact that the global figures mask big disparities between regions and countries, and within countries (e.g., only 61% of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to safe water).

A view from the top: mountain forests

Klas Sander's picture

“Mountain Forests – roots to our future”. That was the headline for this year’s International Mountain Day celebrated by the UN every 11th of December since 2003. This year especially emphasized the interdisciplinary implications of sustainable mountain development. Whenever I have the opportunity to spend time in mountains, I realize how strongly the different elements in that landscape depend on each other and how fragile it all is. Earlier this year, for example, I had the privilege to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. The experience of seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat was incredible and it wasn’t just the climb up the Virunga Volcanoes that was breathtaking.

But the conservation of this ecosystem does not only provide benefits in terms of biodiversity conservation. Adjacent communities and the Government of Rwanda as a whole benefit from the income streams the tourism sector generates. Protecting the ecosystem also helps to assure sustainable flow of water from these “water towers” benefiting agriculture and lowland ecosystems alike. Not only are the Virunga gorillas and other mountain species threatened by climate change but there are also consequences for the communities that depend on them.

Covering 24% of the Earth’s surface, mountain ecosystems play a critical role in maintaining a sustainable flow of resources to the plains below. Mountains are the source for nearly 50% of the world’s freshwater for direct consumption, agriculture, and energy. Also, mountain tourism accounts for 15-20% of the world’s tourism industry, totaling an estimated $US70-90 billion per year. Mountain regions are also severely impacted by climate change, which only magnifies existing development challenges. Ecosystems will experience a vertical shift, as climates warm, generally flora and fauna will move towards higher altitudes. Fragile alpine ecosystems systems and endemic flora and fauna are likely to change resulting in significant negative ecological and socio-economic implications.

“The Green Will Double our Happiness”

Naomi Ahmad's picture

Farmers in Bangladesh adapting to increased soil salinity and climate change.

Barguna is at the very southern end of Bangladesh and looks nothing like the rest of the country.

Bangladesh is very green – driving through you can see the luxuriant green rice fields stretching out endlessly, the spread interrupted only by clusters of dark trees surrounding a small village, and sometimes by the yellow patches of mustard fields. But Barguna is not green and vibrant - it has now become drab brown.

Stepping onto the soil of Barguna, one is reminded of a parched desert. The ground is rock-hard, cracked and mostly barren. I was careful, threading lightly - afraid of stepping too hard in case the ground suddenly gave away.

The district wasn’t always this desolate. But devastated by repeated cyclones, erratic weather patterns and saline intrusion along the coast, farmers in these coastal communities have seen their lands yield less and less with the passing years.

Food Prices, Financial Crisis and Droughts

Otaviano Canuto's picture

water and foodGlobal food prices remain high and volatile, affecting the poorest countries the most. Global prices might not be at their 2008 record high, but they are still well above their levels a year ago. For millions who are already vulnerable, events like the droughts in the Horn of Africa add to their hardships while continued market turmoil increases uncertainty in the global economy.

New ways to deliver water

Louise Croneborg's picture

Mamtoai puts her blue token key into the slot of the standpost and out flows water.

Mamtoai, Lower Ha Thetsane, Maseru, LesothoIt is an early spring morning in October and the sun shines brightly in Lower Ha Thetsane, an area of Maseru, Lesotho, where Mamtoai lives. Other women and young kids are busy chatting as they wait for their turn to collect water. Mamtoai fills up her 20-liter plastic container, snaps the lid tight and raises it up in the air to carry the heavy load on the crown of her head.
 
The installation of pre-paid water standposts that provide piped and treated water in Ha Thetsane is recent. The distance to a communal tap, installed long ago when the area was a rural settlement, used to be far longer. If pipes or taps were broken, water would be lost and turn the earth floor into mud. The cost of water tanked by local entrepreneurs to these peripheral areas could vary hugely - invariably much higher than the formal regulated water system. To expand water distribution, Lesotho’s largest utility the Water and Sewerage Company WASCO has installed water standposts into areas like Ha Thetsane. 
 


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