Three years ago, when I came to the Climate Change Team at the World Bank, climate change was a peripheral issue. The links with poverty alleviation were still not clearly understood and hence not considered to be a priority for the Bank’s engagement with developing countries.
Today, as I prepare to leave for another assignment, more than 80% of all new Country Assistance or Partnership Strategies that guide World Bank Group support to developing countries address climate change issues. Despite the global financial crisis and the resulting economic downturn, the past year has witnessed unprecedented demand from developing countries to help them address development and climate change as interlinked challenges. Within the World Bank Group, climate change has become the glue for sectors, regions, IFC and other entities to work together. A strong community of “development professionals with a climate lens” has emerged and is growing.
The preparation of the Strategic Framework on Development and Climate Change (SFDCC) was an unforgettable experience that involved one of the most extensive global consultations ever carried out by the Bank with both internal and external stakeholders. The process itself helped build ownership for climate change work inside the Bank Group and among its client countries. This process has also built broad-based consensus that development comes first and that the main challenge for the development community is to safeguard economic growth and social progress in poorer countries from the impacts of climate change.