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The World Region

Demystifying Natural Capital Accounting: 10 African Countries Sign On

Rachel Kyte's picture

Credit: Juan-Vidal, Creative Commons

We’ve all seen what happens when natural capital is undervalued. Oceans that billions of people rely on for food and income get overfished and become dumping grounds for chemicals and waste. Mangroves that protect shorelines from storms are replaced with resorts.

Many countries are looking beyond GDP to help them address the challenges undervaluing natural capital has created. What they need is a measure of a country’s wealth that includes all of its capital — produced, social, human, and natural capital.

In Botswana at the Summit for Sustainability in Africa this afternoon, 10 African countries endorsed the need to move toward factoring natural capital into systems of national accounting. By Rio +20, the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we hope to see 50 countries and 50 private corporations join this effort.

The Journey to Renewable Energy Starts with a Map

Christopher Neal's picture

At the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, Saad Hariri, then Prime Minister of Lebanon, announced his country’s new target for renewable energy: 12% of the national energy mix, to be achieved by 2020. This prompted an intense wind-mapping effort that concluded a year later, with an estimate that Lebanon’s onshore windpower potential is 6.1 gigawatts (GW)—more than a third of current consumption—said Pierre El-Khoury, Manager of the Lebanese Energy Ministry’s Center for Energy Conservation.

El-Khoury outlined Lebanon’s wind-mapping exercise at a Washington workshop on renewable energy resource mapping hosted by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) May 9. The Lebanese wind atlas, developed in collaboration with GL Garrad Hassan and Partners, and financed by UNDP and Spain, has identified eight optimal sites for wind farms, of which three will be selected for development. El-Khoury and others cited the government commitment to a target for renewable energy as a “main driver” of the resource mapping that followed.

Inclusive Green Growth Is Smart Growth, as South Korea Is Proving

Rachel Kyte's picture

One of Asia’s fastest growing economies in the last 40 years, South Korea, has emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse that has virtually eliminated poverty.  Its resilient economy survived the 2008–2009 financial crises better than almost any other country, but it is far from complacent.  Korea spends a bigger percentage of GDP on research and development than Germany, the UK and the US.

Today, Korea is a global champion of green growth with a long-term plan for transitioning to green growth and a focus on exporting green tech, and it is moving away from energy imports and energy-intensive industries.  Korea’s journey is not complete, but its progress stands as an inspiration to developing countries wherever they are in theirs.

At the second Global Green Growth Summit, in Seoul on Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak reinforced Korea’s commitment to playing a leadership role on the global stage, restating Korea’s commitment to increasing official development assistance through to 2020 and announcing that 30 percent of that ODA will be green.

Launching our report in Seoul was an excellent opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with Korea and expand our inclusive green growth knowledge base.

Song as Evidence, Song as Voice

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture

Part of a series on social inclusion


There’s a new book on the seemingly limitless landscape of Indian ethnography.  Smita Tewari Jassal’s Unearthing Gender: Folksongs of North India was launched last week in Maryland.  It uses folksongs to construct patterns of gender relations in North India, notorious for son preference and daughter neglect, underpinned by women’s lack of property rights. 

That the author uses songs as evidence is not new.  But her observations on how and whether researchers can enter into the concentric and circumscribed worlds of women are a refreshing insight into those worlds themselves. 

Innovative Approaches Urgently Needed to Deliver Energy to Urban Poor

Nicholas Keyes's picture

Back in 2004, the electrical utility in Brazil’s biggest city had a major problem. AES Eletropaulo was losing a large proportion of its revenue due to almost half-a-million illegal connections, most of them in São Paolo’s slums. Not only that, but they were causing often multiple-house fires on a monthly basis, along with frequent electrocutions.  But the utility’s efforts to fix the problem were stymied by its poor relations with slum-dwellers, which made it almost impossible to work in these communities.

AES Electropaulo decided to shift course and made a concerted effort to open a dialogue with São Paolo’s urban poor. New credit instruments were extended to poor families, and campaigns conducted on smart energy consumption and the benefits of safe connections. The breakthrough came with AES Eletropaulo’s decision to train large numbers of local agents who conducted door-to-door outreach to households in slum areas to listen to their comments and concerns. In the process, new safe, efficient connections were extended to 1.4 million households across the vast metropolis.

AES Electropaulo’s effort is just one example of the approaches being taken by countries around the world to meet one of the world’s greatest development challenges:  delivery of modern energy services to the urban poor. 

‘Simplicity’ Key to Results-Based Aid & Financing

Christopher Neal's picture

“Results-based approaches” (RBAs) to development financing have mushroomed in recent years, partly due to tighter aid budgets, but more in response to a consensus that has emerged at development effectiveness forums in Rome, Paris, Accra and Busan.

RBAs have been adopted in numerous health and water projects, where expansion of access to a service—typically an immunization, an attended birth, a water connection—is the key indicator.

But RBAs are more scarce in the energy sector.

Why? Is the energy sector too complex? Are energy business models too diverse? Is there a results-based model that could work in the energy sector?

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.

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