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WB President: Climate Action Can Work for Development

Actions to lower greenhouse gas emissions can "both protect the global environment and enable developing countries to grow their economies for the benefit of their people," World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick told delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.

Zoellick was speaking at the opening plenary session of the conference that brought together leaders and officials from 190 countries to negotiate a climate change deal for the period post-2012, the year the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement designed to reduce greenhouse gases emissions worldwide. It entered into force in 2005.

The Bank Group President also told delegates that climate change "is a development, economic, and investment challenge. It offers an opportunity for economic and social transformation that can lead to an inclusive and sustainable globalization. That is why addressing climate change is a critical pillar of the development agenda."

Zoellick added that the world's poor in developing countries are "the most exposed to climate change, the most affected by it, and the least able to cope with it." He said the discussions at the conference can help "fulfill the hopes and aspirations of these communities and help them manage the changes in health conditions, food production, water resources, coastal integrity, and biodiversity."

Outlining a series of actions that the World Bank Group is undertaking to help developing countries mitigate or adapt to global warming, Zoellick said that "we believe we can best support the UN negotiating process by helping developing countries integrate climate action — both mitigation and adaptation — within their own growth strategies, including plans for energy development, forestry, agriculture, and land use."

Among the actions that Zoellick highlighted was the creation of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, launched on Tuesday by the World Bank on the sidelines of the Bali conference. Joined by donors, potential participating countries, and non-governmental organizations at the launch, Zoellick underscored the Facility's goal to prevent deforestation (a major cause of increasing greenhouse gas emissions) by rewarding developing countries for carbon dioxide reductions resulting from protecting their forests.

"The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility signals that the world cares about the global value of forests and is ready to pay for it," said Zoellick. "This can change the economic options for many people who depend on forests for their livelihoods. There is now a value to conserving, not just harvesting the forest."

Remarks to Ministers of Finance

During an earlier meeting with finance ministers invited to Bali to discuss their country's role in combating global warming, Zoellick said that their gathering was "a clear and compelling demonstration that climate change, and our collective responses to it, need the urgent attention of finance ministers who manage the levers of the economy and the flows of investment."

A key challenge, said Zoellick, "is to channel existing financial flows into more climate friendly investments, and to create new financial flows to invest in low carbon technology, as well as for adaptation."

The Bank Group President told the ministers that "developed and developing countries need to work together to craft a new global climate change agreement that works and that is sustainable — environmentally, economically, and politically."

(China Development Gateway December 13, 2007)

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