11 September 2003
Africa’s efforts to conserve its rich biodiversity and natural heritage have received a shot in the arm with the announcement of increased lending by the World Bank.
The World Bank said on Wednesday that it would increase its environmental lending from $1.1-billion in 2003 to $2.1-billion in 2004.
Of the 2003 budget, Africa has been allocated between $20-million to $27-million to protect its natural heritage and bio-diversity. This amount will almost double in the next financial year.
The announcement was made during the fifth World Parks Congress in Durban, where more than 2 500 delegates are meeting to discuss plans for sustainable protected areas.
The World Bank used the Congress to launch its flagship publication for 2003, “Environmental Matters”, which details how the Bank, through its implementing agency the Global Environment Facility, is financing projects with environmental themes.
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Mohammed Valli Moosa commented: “From the point of view of the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, I am delighted that the World Bank is doing more to translate sustainable development objectives into a language understood by finance ministers.”
Kristalina Georgieva, director of the Bank’s environment department, said a large percentage of the funds meant for Africa would be channelled to the continent’s water, land management and biodiversity programmes.
Ian Johnson, vice-president of sustainable development at the World Bank, said the increase was necessitated by the fact that governments were willing to spend money on conservation projects.
“The most important thing is that environmental sustainability is a key institutional priority, and environmental responsibility is now a distinctive feature of the overall lending portfolio,” Johnson said.
Currently active projects with environmental and natural resources management content amount to $13-billion, representing about 13% of the total active portfolio of the World Bank. Of the $13-billion, 10% has been set aside for projects in Africa.
“This increase in the World Bank’s environmental lending is due in large part to progress in implementing the 2001 Corporate Environment Strategy, which indicated a renewed focus in three areas where the environment, the quality of life and poverty reduction are strongly interlinked”, Georgieva said.