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The Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus:

Report to the Board from the Committee on Development Effectiveness

The Committee on Development Effectiveness met to consider the report entitled The Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus: An Evaluation of the World Bank’s Support for Sustainable and Inclusive Natural Resource Management (2009–19) and the draft World Bank management response.

The committee commended the Independent Evaluation Group for the timely and relevant evaluation, noting that its outcome focus was helpful in orienting the World Bank Group approach toward achieving greater development impact, doing no harm, and benefiting the most vulnerable populations. Members noted the evaluation’s relevance to discussions on how to achieve a green, resilient, and inclusive COVID recovery and the World Bank’s efforts to achieve climate adaptation goals. They also noted the relevance of the findings to inform the upcoming committee discussions on outcome orientation and highlighted the importance of having measurable results to assess the development outcomes of the World Bank’s activity on nature and climate change and to maximize World Bank’s outcome-oriented business model.

The committee welcomed management’s response and broad agreement with the report’s recommendations and was pleased to learn that the World Bank has been relevant in adequately diagnosing and addressing forest, soil, and land degradation issues and improving natural resource management practices. Members acknowledged that the coronavirus (COVID-19) was compounding the negative impacts that natural resource degradation was already having on the lives of vulnerable populations and underscored the key role that the World Bank can play in addressing the link between natural resource degradation and vulnerability to enable an inclusive COVID-19 recovery and in assisting its client countries in their efforts to reduce poverty, boost shared prosperity, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Several members welcomed management’s acknowledgment of the need to assess and measure attributable outcomes even if it is not easy to do so. They encouraged management to improve knowledge sharing, develop metrics, and enhance coordination across the relevant Global Practices to optimize development effectiveness.

Members appreciated management’s recognition that there was room for improvement and also its commitment to better address natural resource degradation and vulnerability issues, which are central to enabling the World Bank to meet its ambitious goal to deliver, on average, 35 percent of operations with climate cobenefits for FY21–25. They highlighted the importance of paying due attention to the natural resource degradation and vulnerability link in Systematic Country Diagnostics (SCDs) and Country Partnership Frameworks (CPFs), particularly where these issues were key for achieving poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Management explained that the World Bank helps its clients define and prioritize country-level objectives and clarified that an SCD is not exhaustive review of the development issues that a country faces at the time the SCD is being prepared but an assessment of the key development bottlenecks being faced by the country at that time. Management therefore noted that not all SCDs and CPFs present assessments of the drivers and consequences of natural resource degradation and related vulnerability. The Independent Evaluation Group clarified that the evaluation focused only on countries (and the associated SCDs and CPFs) that have relatively high resource degradation and high resource dependence among poor people. Members stressed that there was room to systematically assess the link between natural degradation and vulnerable populations in project design.