Posts

A Green Colombia

Humankind has achieved a level of greatness unknown to its predecessors: today we freely traverse the globe as we please and live comfortable lifestyles, infatuated with the belief that we live in a place where almost anything is possible.

Unfortunately, this whimsical attitude cannot last in a world unable to keep up with each and every whim and passing fancy of the human heart. With the inevitable effects of climate change ravaging the one and only planet in which we live, a growing endeavor to find sustainable approaches and solutions for countries around the world continues to be a top priority on the nation’s agenda.

Recognizing this importance, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a $700 million loan which supported green growth in Colombia as well as environmental developments within the country. It was through this Development Policy Loan (DPL) that Colombian administration’s budgetary program was supported.

The National Development Plan for Colombia has several initiatives in support of a green growth strategy which include “reducing water and air pollution as well as the final disposal and recycling of solid waste,” states an article by the World Bank.

Challenges that Colombia faces in this effort include an aversion to adaption in the face of climate change and a “reduction in the costs of environmental degradation on health,” says the World Bank. However, this loan will present a unique and golden opportunity to promote social, economic and environmental developments for this country.

According to the World Bank, “the rate of exploitation of Colombia’s natural resources is greater than the average for Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) countries. For example, extensive cattle raising, mostly undertaken in unsuitable lands, has caused significant deterioration in land use. Equally, the industrial sector is one of the biggest culprits behind organic pollution and the deterioration of water quality in Colombia.”

With the poorest and most vulnerable people suffering the most from environmental degradation issues, advances in environmental sustainability will be welcomed and embraced throughout this region. This loan will not just benefit the very poor but also seeks to improve productivity and overall quality of life for all Colombians.

Future endeavors will focus on strengthening the response capacity to climate change and natural disasters that affect the country. As often as this is repeated, its message stays true: only by investing in these issues today can we create a future for tomorrow.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: DNP, World Bank
Photo:Flickr

environmental_degradationIn a landmark visit to Ecuador, Pope Francis denounced the “irresponsible use and abuse of [the earth’s] goods” as the leading factor contributing to global poverty. The Pope addressed a crowd of over 1 million Ecuadorians at a mass on July 7 and touched on several issues concerning increasing poverty statistics.

One focal point of the Pope’s speech regarded Ecuador’s rich natural resources being the target of impending oil drilling. According to CBS, “Containing both the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rainforest, Ecuador has more biodiversity than any other country on earth. At the same time, it is heavily reliant on revenues from its oil reserves.” The South American nation boasts a rich oil reserve underneath its historically pure environmental ecosystems. The Pope strongly advocated for Ecuadorians to protect their oil reserves and to come together to preserve their natural resources.

Pope Francis’ message to Ecuador made impressions throughout the world, especially with Catholic investors. Since the Pope began publicly condemning environmental degradation, investors from all over began pulling out of fossil fuels and reinvesting their finances into more environmentally conscience resources. The driving force behind this change in investment comes at the Pope’s urging to think long-term. Pope Francis compelled not just Ecuador, but the rest of the plant to “consider the long-term consequences of harvesting the planet’s natural resources over its immediate payoff.” A strong message by the Pope for every one, of all beliefs, to think about the wellbeing of our planet.

While the Pope made his address at a Catholic mass with religion at its core, his words must resonate outside of a particular faith. His urgency to think long-term is critical in preventing the spread of poverty. More deforestation, mining, and oil drilling would displace millions more each year, leaving them homeless and their lives in ruins. Pope Francis makes a strong case for re-evaluating the way we approach our planet’s resources; it is up to us to listen and follow through.

Diego Catala

Sources: Ring Of Fire Radio, CBS News
Photo: Huffington Post

poverty_environment
A common misconception is that protecting the environment exacerbates poverty in poor nations because it prevents agricultural development and the ability to harvest natural resources. This is far from the truth. In fact, environmental protection initiatives actually help alleviate poverty.

A study done in Costa Rica reveals that ecotourism efforts contribute to decreased poverty levels in regions situated near protected parks and natural areas. Thanks to the economic opportunities provided by the ecotourism sector, these regions have seen nearly 66% reduction in poverty. Paul Ferraro, professor of economics and environmental policy at Georgia State University, finds three triggering factors that show a direct correlation between poverty reduction and environmental conservation.

Triggers of Poverty Reduction Linked to Environmental Protection

  1. Changes in tourism and recreational activities
  2. Infrastructural changes (e.g. roads, health clinics and schools)
  3. Changes in ecosystem services (e.g. crop pollination and nutrient cycles)

A similar study was done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on protected areas of Thailand and Costa Rica established 15 years ago. The study concluded, “the net impact of ecosystem protection was to alleviate poverty.” Communities around protected areas in Costa Rica experienced a 10% decrease in poverty, while the communities in Thailand saw almost a 30% reduction. As in the previous study, PNAS finds that tourism revenue and job opportunities directly contributed to reduced levels in poverty.

Protecting biodiversity is critical for 75% of the world’s poor who live in rural areas and depend on sustenance farming and fishing for survival. Disappearing or declining species in an ecosystem directly impacts people’s ability to provide food for their families. Local villagers in the Sierra Leone region of West Africa, for example, experienced direct effects of biodiversity loss as a result of overfishing and pollution. As fishing makes up their main source of food, the coastal community struggled to sustain their protein-rich diet with the loss of diversity in fish stocks. The World Bank helped restore the marine ecosystem by improving fishing regulations and introducing sustainable fishing techniques in the area.

The World Bank invests over $1 billion in nature and wildlife protection, and an additional $300 million in environmental and natural resource law enforcement. Moreover, investments in biodiversity help create jobs and raise incomes around the world. The Bank has already helped boost income levels in communities within rural regions of South Africa, Kenya and Honduras. The long-term impacts of these investments contribute simultaneously to two of the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals:

Eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The protection of natural ecosystems from environmental degradation, such as pollution, deforestation and biodiversity loss, ensures the safety and stability of local impoverished communities that rely on those precious natural resources for survival. Environmental protection has proven to be a key factor in poverty reduction around the world, and it is critical that international organizations, like the World Bank, continue to support global initiatives in hopes of making the UN Millennium Development Goals a reality.

– Gloria Kostadinova

Sources: Nature World News, National Geographic, Triple Pundit, World Bank, United Nations
Photo: Maag-Uma