Environment killing millions says World Bank report
World Bank News Release
October 7, 2005
EDITOR’s NOTE: A new report from the World Bank says millions of deaths can be attributed to environmental factors, including climate change, pollution, unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene. These environmental conditions are significantly affecting health — responsible for about a fifth of all ill health in poor countries — and impeding economic development and growth. The report also links cancer to the environment.
WASHINGTON, October 5, 2005 — Close to one-fifth of the burden of disease in developing countries can be attributed to environmental risks with unsafe water, poor sanitation, and poor hygiene as leading risk factors, causing 1.7 million premature deaths per year; and urban air pollution estimated to cause about 800,000 premature deaths annually, according to the World Bank’s annual publication, Environment Matters, released today.
“Poor people are the first to suffer from a polluted environment,” said Warren Evans, Director of the Bank’s Environment Department. “Environmental health risks such as polluted water and insufficient sanitation, indoor and outdoor air pollution, chemicals exposure, and the impacts of climate change significantly influence the well-being of million of poor people.”
An annual review of the World Bank’s environmental work, this year’s Environment Matters focuses on the strong links between environment and health. It also points out the direct connection to economic growth.
Dr. Eric Chivian, Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, who spoke at the launch, reminded the audience that, “Ecosystems provide life support services, such as the breaking down of wastes or the purifying of air and water that make all life possible. Most people recognize the beauty and the spiritual and economic values of Nature, but they may not fully understand that their health and lives, and the health and lives of their children, depend on its preservation.”
Addressing environment and health at the local level
In Sub-Saharan African, much investment is still needed in infrastructure to supply clean water and improved sanitation for about half the population. These need to be complemented with simple and cost-effective interventions for hygiene promotion. In Ghana, the Bank is supporting a public private partnership for hand washing with soap, with positive early results.
In Nepal, the Bank is supporting the Government’s Biogas Program, with a target of installing up to 200,000 units by 2009. In an earlier phase, some 100,000 biogas reactors have already been installed. The program will reduce indoor air pollution levels; contribute to enhanced agriculture productivity, improved forestry practices, and lower emission of greenhouse gases.
and at the regional level
The Bank’s Clean Air Initiative supports innovative ways to address the growing impact of air pollution on human health. It combines research, training, and actions on the ground. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this initiative spearheaded a successful regional program for the phase-out of leaded gasoline.
In a broad partnership with FAO, NGOs, and private sector interests, the Bank is spearheading an initiative the Africa Stockpiles Programme to safely manage the enormous stocks of obsolete pesticides that have accumulated in African countries. The cleanup and necessary capacity building is estimated to cost some $250 million over 15 years.
will require partnership at the global level
Achieving substantive progress in delivering clean water, improved sanitation, cleaner air, and a safer environment to millions of poor people will need the concerted efforts of governments, communities, civil society organizations, the private sector, and donors.
“It is time for action,” added Evans. “The world’s political leaders have reaffirmed their collective commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Further, the July 2005 Summit of the G-8 countries heightened the industrialized countries’ support to environmentally sustainable development for the benefit of the world’s poor. These events, together with the warning signals raised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, have contributed to raise international awareness and to strengthen the global commitment to foster a healthy environment for this and future generations.”
World Bank environmental lending on the increase
Environment Matters points out the increase in environmental content in Bank lending with the approval of 73 projects with environmental content in 47 countries, reaching $2.5 billion in new commitments for fiscal 2005, representing more than 11 percent of new lending. In fiscal 2004, the commitment was $1.3 billion, which represented a share of new lending of 6.5 percent.
The significant increase in environmental content in the Bank’s lending is mainly due to two large development policy loans: the First Programmatic Reform Loan for Environmental Sustainability in Brazil ($503 million) and the Programmatic Development Policy Loan for Sustainable Development in Colombia ($150 million). The increase in commitments in fiscal 2005 is also attributable to an increased coverage of environmental objectives in infrastructure lending. For example, more water and sanitation loans are addressing water quality management issues; irrigation and other water management operations include support for policies that address sustainable resource management; and urban projects include components for wastewater and solid waste management.
Equally important are smaller loans that enhance country capacity to improve environmental and social conditions when investment in infrastructure is rapidly growing.
And finally, new approaches are being tested to meet local natural resources management objectives while addressing global issues and to directly support local governments in enhancing environmental management. For example utilizing carbon finance to stimulate improved community forest management and reduce degradation of sensitive ecosystems
This is a modified press release from the World Bank. This original appears at Burden Of Disease Increased By Environmental Degradation