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.
The threat of climate change forces us all to think of development solutions that cut across boundaries. For example, melting glaciers have facilitated greater regional dialogue and cooperation in and between Latin America and Asia. Regional approaches have proven to be equally important for enabling countries to meet their energy needs through lower-carbon options, such as expanding the concentrated solar power initiative in the Mediterranean or realizing hydropower potential in Africa.
Cutting-edge work has been done to show the full extent of the costs to adapt to climatic changes, and to explore lower emission growth opportunities. It also reaffirmed that growth, development and meeting the Millennium Development Goals  (MDGs) are critical for successful adaptation, and for capacity and flexibility that are necessary for pursuing a low carbon growth path. These messages will be particularly important as nations get together for the MDG summit in New York later this month.
The challenge of climate change has helped to solidify partnerships with our clients and external agencies. Growing partnerships with the UN is exemplified by the joint Climate Finance Options  knowledge platform that provides “one stop” information about all available climate financing sources and examples of their use. Another example is the Climate Investment Funds  (CIF), an innovative mechanism to leverage climate finance, which has been developed and being implemented jointly by several multilateral development banks.
My new assignment is Country Manager in Albania  where the new Country Partnership Strategy stresses the importance of adaptation to climate change, particularly in water resource management. It will be a good opportunity for me to test “first hand” how effective our institution can be in helping our partner countries and clients with new global challenges while keeping its core development focus intact.