Former James Bond Pierce Brosnan brought his star power to the World Bank on the eve of the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings for a special preview screening of “Great Migrations” – a seven-hour National Geographic television series described by CEO Tim Kelly as the biggest single project in the society’s history.
The series takes viewers around the world on the arduous journeys millions of animals undertake to ensure the survival of their species. The preview featured the threatened migrations of the wildebeest in Tanzania and elephants in Mali.
Brosnan, an actor, producer and supporter of several environmental causes, joined Kelly, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, and the Tanzanian Ambassador to the United States, Mwanaidi Maajar, among others, to highlight the growing importance of biodiversity as a development issue.
"We must ask ourselves: in Tanzania, in Mali, and in countless other places, do we have the 'wisdom and the will' to make the right choice, the statesman’s choice?" asked Brosnan. 'Can we support governments with development programs that lead to economic growth, that reduce poverty, and that benefit people … while at the same time endowing all species with intrinsic worth…protecting and preserving the world’s greatest natural treasures?"
In Tanzania, the government's plan for a highway through the famed Serengeti national park--and across the migratory path of 2 million wildebeests and zebras--has prompted conservationist organizations around the world to call for an alternate route to preserve the biodiversity of the region.
Ambassador Maajar said the government has a difficult choice to make. "For poor countries that are developing, that need to develop, to grow their economies, these are very tough choices," she said.
"The people who live in and around Serengeti do not look at biodiversity exactly the way we look at it out here, by the international community. For them it is a question of survival and a question of need, and especially when you need a road or you need electricity." The World Bank is not involved in financing the proposed road.
The Bank is working with partners to better measure the true economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity, and in a few weeks will launch a new partnership at the United Nations international biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan.
"By calculating and quantifying this 'natural wealth of nations,' decisionmakers will be better able to appreciate the long-term benefits from ecosystem services," said Zoellick. The Bank has amassed a biodiversity portfolio of $6.6 billion over the last 20 years and is working directly in 122 developing countries, as well as through regional and global partnerships, to save threatened ecosystems and species.
"More than ever, we are called upon to be stewards of these natural resources," said Zoellick. "At the World Bank Group, we take that responsibility seriously."