The evidence has never been stronger that protecting the environment is not only compatible with the World Bank’s development objectives, but in fact essential to achieving them.
At the end of June 2006, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz announced an internal restructuring of two vice presidencies: the Bank’s “networks” for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD) and Infrastructure were integrated into a new Vice Presidency for Sustainable Development, headed by the sitting Vice President for Infrastructure (the position of Vice President for ESSD had been vacant for several months).
While the Bank’s outreach efforts described the restructuring as an elevation of the sustainable development agenda, the merger of the environment and infrastructure units raised questions about whether and how the Bank will promote environmental sustainability in its operations.
As a rule, poor people are made not just worse off, but disproportionately worse off when ecosystems are degraded. It follows that the World Bank must integrate ecosystem protection into its policy advice and investment operations designed to reduce poverty.
It is clear that if the Bank’s core mission is to reduce poverty, it cannot ignore the environment.