World Bank strengthens environmental collaboration with World Conservation Union

World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and newly-arrived World Conservation Union (IUCN) Director-General Maritta R. von Bieberstein Koch-Weser havesigned a Memorandum of Understanding, solidifying the current relationship, and welcoming a new era of strategic collaboration between the two institutions.


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Co-operation between the World Bank and the IUCN-World Conservation Union has been piloted over the past four years to explore how the two institutions could obtain mutual advantage in delivering services to IUCN’s members and volunteer networks and the Bank’s developing country clients and beneficiaries. This collaboration proved to be very successful, and both parties felt it warranted consolidating and confirming for an indefinite period, subject to annual performance reviews.

“As the of erosion of the natural capital base on which sustainable development depends proceeds, we need to reach out to form unusual partnerships to help our developing country clients meet the challenge of wise natural resource management,” says World Bank Senior Advisor for the Environment Kenneth Newcombe.
“With its networks of scientists and conservationists on the ground all over the world, IUCN has shown us that it has an enormous amount to offer the Bank and its clients if we join forces. The potential power of this partnership has been well demonstrated in the past four years. We now hope to build on this foundation and make our respective development work ever more effective.”

Key elements of the collaboration in the past four years have been the establishment of the World Commission on Dams, including mobilising more than $7.5 million for its work; and the engagement of the IUCN as facilitator of stakeholder consultations for the Bank’s Forest Policy Strategy (FPIRS) development – a multi-year, multimillion dollar program, which is designed to review forest sector issues and the Bank’s role in helping to reverse global trends of forest loss and degradation, due to complete its work in mid-2000.

The World Bank-IUCN Memorandum of Understanding is intended to finalise an informal partnership across the spectrum of the World Bank’s sustainable development agenda. In addition, the two organisations have identified areas for possible future collaboration:

  • Providing balanced environmental stakeholder consultations, forums, and mediation on emerging environmental issues in the field, as well as on a national, regional, or global basis.
  • Sharing knowledge to promote environmentally and socially sustainable development world-wide.
  • Building and strengthening national environmental institutions, especially in the areas of environmental law and policy, by working on environmental policies and economics, and especially in work programs focusing on sustainability issues in the context of progressive globalisation. The two institutions will work together on the scoping of Environmental Impact Assessments, Monitoring and Evaluation, or local stakeholder engagements, environmental sector work, country assistance strategies, and the development of ecosystem-based regional environmental management approaches, to enhance, for example, trans-boundary river basin or marine and coastal zone management.
  • A staff exchange program to promote the sharing of knowledge and expertise between the World Bank and IUCN.

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