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The World Region

Reflections from Punta del Este: My 15-plus years in the GEF Family

Alan Miller's picture

I first engaged with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 1994 as part of the evaluation team for the GEF pilot phase― a US$1 billion pilot hosted by the World Bank that began in 1991, prior to the Rio Earth Summit. In May, along with a small group of World Bank colleagues, I found myself at the Fourth GEF Assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay. In reflecting back over the intervening time period I find nuggets of success, but also much remains disturbingly unchanged.

 The single overwhelming cause for celebration has been the announcement―dramatically achieved only a few weeks ago―of a GEF replenishment of more than 50% to US$4.2 billion (US$3.5 billion in new funding). Any increase is obviously welcomed in a period of fiscal austerity, and most government representatives understandably expressed congratulations. However, a few couldn’t help but note that the increase was disturbingly small if measured by the increase in the range of problems to be addressed. There is a much greater sense of urgency (especially with respect to climate change), and many more agencies involved in channeling funds (originally only the World Bank, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and now there are more than 10).

Carbon markets, still in the game

Pablo Benitez's picture

I’m writing to you from what is probably the most exciting place to be in the carbon world this week―Carbon Expo in Cologne Germany―the global trade fair and knowledge-sharing platform on current and future carbon investments. There are thousands of people here from all over the world and the story in the corridors is...well...carbon. It is a meeting place for large and small companies operating in the CO2 market, as well as government representatives and climate experts interested in the latest CO2 projects and climate developments. Carbon Expo is proving to be a showcase for introducing projects to investors and carbon buyers, with sessions on everything from the ‘How-to” of Low Carbon Growth to matchmaking and deal facilitation.

The Carbon Market Outlook

On Wednesday, the World Bank released its annual State and Trends of the Carbon Market report here at Carbon Expo. It had a very interesting story to tell.

Carbon footprints: What you buy matters, but where you live is more important!

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Lots of people, companies, cities, and nations have started to calculate their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, since you can only change what you can measure. These measurements are starting to highlight some very interesting trends and show how complex the global results of our lifestyle are.

Will climate finance mean a new path for the World Bank?

Athena Ballesteros's picture

In Copenhagen, donor countries pledged to raise US$30 billion in “fast start funds” and an additional US$100 billion a year by 2020 to invest in reducing emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Though the commitments are clear, the delivery is uncertain. By the June UNFCCC meetings in Bonn, countries will need to start drafting a set of decisions on the financial architecture to manage and distribute these climate funds.

 

Photo: Woman in China counting moneyBy embarking on several climate change initiatives, including an assessment of progress in implementing the Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change (SFDCC) and the revision of its Energy Strategy, the World Bank has positioned itself to play a role in the management of new climate funds.  The Bank already hosts several climate related trust funds, including the Climate Investment Funds. It is the trustee of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and its largest implementing agency. The question is whether the Bank should be entrusted with an even larger role in the future of climate finance. If it is going to gain the political support necessary to make this happen, the World Bank must systematically address issues of environmental and social sustainability in its mainstream investments.

 

Political will, money, ingenuity and cooperation for UN Energy goals

Jamal Saghir's picture

Access to energy services and energy efficiency are the two key messages of the report released in New York April 28 by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon and his Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change. “Energy for a Sustainable Future” calls on countries—rich, poor and middle-income—to transform their national energy systems to ensure universal access to modern energy services, and reduce global energy intensity by 2030.


These are ambitious goals, the report says. It notes that access, in particular, “requires overcoming complex challenges in some of the poorest and most remote locations on the globe.” Although ambitious, the goals are certainly attainable. Achieving both of them will require political will, money, ingenuity and cooperation, not only among governments, but must also include the private sector and civil society.

Iceland’s Volcano and Climate Science: Will there be a Silver Lining to the Ash Cloud?

Michael Levitsky's picture

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland could mean some good news for those of us concerned with understanding the science of climate change.

As volcanoes go, this is small stuff.  The last volcano to have a substantial effect on global climate was Mount Pinatubo which erupted in the Philippines in 1991. Volcanoes affect global climate largely because the sulfur gases that they emit oxidize in the atmosphere to form sulfate aerosols (fine particulate matter), which stay around in the stratosphere for at least 12 months, and act as a strong cooling agent. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Mt. Pinatubo caused global temperatures to dip by about 0.5 degrees Centigrade for a year. The ash, which has been of concern to airline passengers in Europe and many others across the globe recently, generally has only a small and local effect on climate –it tends to fall to earth in a matter of weeks.

Disasters: what is the cost ?

Julia Bucknall's picture

Buried under the most snow since records have been kept, as we are right now in Washington, the mind turns naturally to the effects of  extreme weather events. Clearly the impacts for those of us with solid housing and uninterrupted WiFi access are minimal compared with the impacts of extreme weather for most people in the world.  But even here we can see a combination of effects -- the costs of closing offices or of running through the whole winter's supply of firewood in  one week, at the same time as the economic uptick for those who repair household boilers, restore downed power lines or dig people's cars out  of the snow or shovel their sidewalks for a fee. Since climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather  events, figuring out the net cost of natural disasters is an important topic.  And figuring out sensible ways to reduce those costs is also  going to be increasingly important.

At the World Bank last week, we had an interesting seminar from Stéphane Hallegate from the French International Centre for Research on Environment and Development and the National Meteorology School that shed light on some of these issues. Stéphane has modelled the impacts of a number of natural disasters looking at both the direct costs of  the disaster (how much does it cost to rebuild structures that were destroyed?) and the indirect costs (what is the cost of a business  being closed for several months net of any local economic benefits that may occur as reconstruction starts). 

Sunita Narain on acting now for climate-smart development

Alexander Lotsch's picture

The World Bank's Sustainable Development Network held its annual forum over the past two weeks in Washington DC with World Development Report 2010’s theme of 'Act now, Act together, Act differently'. Hundreds of World Bank staff convened to discuss the way forward on climate action with colleagues, clients and climate experts. With the Copenhagen Accord leaving many important issues of international climate policy unresolved, development experts focused on the positive actions that can be taken to foster ‘climate-smart’ development. In a high-level plenary discussion, international experts discussed how green investments stimulate economic recovery and climate-smart growth, as in Korea and China, and the role of rich and poor countries in sharing the global atmospheric commons going forward. We asked Sunita Narain, one of the panelists—and Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi—about what actions she thinks need to be taken now at the global level, and about the role of international development institutions in putting climate-smart development into practice. 
 

Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi from World Bank on Vimeo.

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