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Building the evidence for more effective disaster risk reduction

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Indigenous Fijian girl walking on flooded land in Fiji. On Feb 2016 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone in Fiji Islands in recorded history.  Image credit: Shutterstock/ChameleonsEye
After a long hiatus due to the COVID crises, governments will come together in Bali this week to discuss progress on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  Organized by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by the Government of Indonesia, the seventh session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction comes at a crucial time: Show MoreAfter a long hiatus due to the COVID crises, governments will come together in Bali this week to discuss progress on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  Organized by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by the Government of Indonesia, the seventh session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction comes at a crucial time: while countries struggle to address the compounded threats of food, fuel and financial insecurity in the midst of a pandemic, many must also still contend with the threat of natural hazards and the terrible costs they exact. Almost 25 million people were internally displaced by natural hazards in 2021. Climate change is exacerbating the risks to lives and livelihoods from more severe droughts, floods, and storms. As with the shocks from the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, it is poorer countries and their populations that are most vulnerable to the impacts of natural hazards. Building resilience to the risks posed by natural hazards remains vital for protecting people and preserving development gains and creating the conditions for sustainable development. An upcoming evaluation from the Independent Evaluation Group will offer an assessment of how and how well the World Bank has helped countries address risks of disasters caused by natural hazards. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is at the core of the World Bank’s approach to support green, resilient, and inclusive development, and in particular to support countries to address climate change through adaptation and resilience. The World Bank has supported hundreds of projects supporting DRR, including through physical investments in risk mitigation and resilient infrastructure, support for policy strategy and institutional reform, disaster preparedness including early warning systems, and disaster risk finance. The evaluation – scheduled to be released in October of this year ahead of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group  – seeks to identify the factors that contributed to success and failure, as lessons to build on for more effective support to countries to reduce disaster risk from natural hazards. Underinvestment in DRR has been a global challenge. Along with a shift in mindset from disaster recovery to risk reduction, DRR requires a complex combination of building institutional capacities, the design of new policies and new investments. The evaluation undertook a series of case studies on engagements where the World Bank sought to use its upstream analytics and technical assistance, its convening power and partnerships with others, and its lending instruments to catalyze action on DRR. The goal was to zero in on the ingredients for especially effective approaches and glean lessons to guide future engagement with countries on DRR. The evaluation also raises key questions about the extent to which the World Bank has targeted risk reduction support to the most serious hazards in each country, and the way the World Bank has influenced disaster vulnerable countries to undertake disaster risk reduction activities. The assessment also examines the way in which the World Bank’s t approaches have evolved in line with identified good practices, and how effective it has been in reducing disaster risk- including for the groups who are disproportionately vulnerable. Understanding the effectiveness of the World Bank, or any institution’s contribution to DRR, is no small task. DRR outcomes are inherently difficult to measure because they are a reduction in the negative effects of a probabilistic future shock. Avoided losses cannot be directly measured. Reduced expected mortality and damage are a function of both the probability distribution of natural hazards of varying intensities and the effectiveness of risk reduction activities. Yet the development case for DRR has never been more vital, even as countries face a daunting array of overlapping risks. While the upcoming evaluation looks deeply at disasters caused by natural hazards and builds the evidence for what works in motivating effective efforts to minimize their potential impacts, its findings should also be relevant for the broader and integrated efforts needed to address multiple and compound disaster risks, and support resilient development. Pictured above: Indigenous Fijian girl walking on flooded land in Fiji. On Feb 2016 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston was the strongest tropical cyclone in Fiji Islands in recorded history. Image credit: Shutterstock/ChameleonsEye

The case for energy efficiency in low-income countries: Evidence from Malawi

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Digital mainlands from space. Cities and countries connected by plexus light lines. Virtual continents. Creative technology, ultra wide background. Concept of transferring information. Photo credit: S.Gvozd, Freelance illustrator & motion graphics, Shutterstock
More than half of sub-Saharan Africa struggles with energy access. An ongoing IEG evaluation of a World Bank project in Malawi indicates that energy-efficiency projects could potentially help meet the high demand for energy access in low-income countries.More than half of sub-Saharan Africa struggles with energy access. An ongoing IEG evaluation of a World Bank project in Malawi indicates that energy-efficiency projects could potentially help meet the high demand for energy access in low-income countries.

International Finance Corporation Additionality in Middle-Income Countries (Approach Paper)

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Accounting for almost half of global gross domestic product and 70 percent of the world’s population, middle-income countries (MICs) face multiple development challenges limiting achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty and inclusion, climate change, financial access, and economic diversification and market development. The International Finance Corporation’s ( Show MoreAccounting for almost half of global gross domestic product and 70 percent of the world’s population, middle-income countries (MICs) face multiple development challenges limiting achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty and inclusion, climate change, financial access, and economic diversification and market development. The International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) portfolio is focused heavily on MICs. Additionality is the unique support that IFC brings to a private client or client country that is not typically offered by commercial sources of finance (IFC 2019). This evaluation assesses the unique support and value addition (additionality) that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides to middle-income countries (MICs). It will cover IFC’s support of MICs through investment and advisory projects, and through its platforms and partnerships. The primary audience is the World Bank Group Board and IFC management and staff, however some findings of the evaluation will be relevant to a broader audience including multilateral and bilateral financing private sector activities, investors, and government officials and practitioners in client countries.

World Bank Group Engagement with Morocco 2011–21 (Approach Paper)

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This Country Program Evaluation aims to assess the World Bank Group’s contribution to Morocco’s development trajectory over the past decade (fiscal years 2011–21) and is timed to inform the next Country Partnership Framework and future Bank Group engagements in the country. The Country Program Evaluation will use a range of methods to assess how the Bank Group has supported Morocco’s efforts to Show MoreThis Country Program Evaluation aims to assess the World Bank Group’s contribution to Morocco’s development trajectory over the past decade (fiscal years 2011–21) and is timed to inform the next Country Partnership Framework and future Bank Group engagements in the country. The Country Program Evaluation will use a range of methods to assess how the Bank Group has supported Morocco’s efforts to tackle major constraints to achieving its objective of reaching upper-middle-income-country status. The evaluation will focus on three outcome areas: (i) fostering private sector–led growth that absorbs a growing labor force; (ii) strengthening inclusive human capital formation and addressing the obstacles to women and youth labor force participation; and (iii) reducing climate risks and natural resource depletion and addressing their combined effects on the most vulnerable people, especially in rural areas.

COP26 pledges: Can the private sector come through for climate action in emerging economies?

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COP26 pledges: Can the private sector come through for climate action in emerging economies?
The first week of COP26 ended with a loud and clear response from world leaders to the call for greater ambition and urgent climate action. Regardless of whether this enthusiasm is to be received with hope or with skepticism, it is important not to lose focus on the pressing theme of private capital mobilization (PCM) for climate action, without which it will be impossible to meet the Paris Show MoreThe first week of COP26 ended with a loud and clear response from world leaders to the call for greater ambition and urgent climate action. Regardless of whether this enthusiasm is to be received with hope or with skepticism, it is important not to lose focus on the pressing theme of private capital mobilization (PCM) for climate action, without which it will be impossible to meet the Paris Agreement. As US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, noted in her remarks “… as big as the public sector effort is across all our countries, the $100-trillion plus price tag to address climate change globally is far bigger… and the private sector needs to play a bigger role”. In fact, developed economies have not been able to meet the $100 billion a year commitment to finance climate needs in emerging economies. A major announcement at COP26 was the pledge of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) – a global coalition of over 450 finance firms across 45 countries, jointly managing $130 trillion - to align their financing activities to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Leaving aside fair questions as to whether it is enough or realistic, this pledge is indicative of the scale and ambition needed.. A similar pledge came earlier this year from the Climate Finance Partnership (CFP), a partnership between BlackRock and the governments of France, Germany, and Japan, as well as a number of leading U.S. impact investing organizations, to align resources towards net-zero emissions. Just as GFANZ and CFP, private sector players are making bolder commitments representing important opportunities. But how much of this financing will reach emerging economies? What can the World Bank Group (WBG) and partner organizations do to facilitate the flow of private capital to developing countries?  IEG recently published an evaluation on the WBG’s approach to capital mobilization which includes lessons that could shed some light on these questions. Coalitions such as GFANZ and CFP seek bankable projects, mostly in the infrastructure and energy sectors, requiring emerging economies to strengthen their policy and regulatory frameworks and raise industry standards in key sectors to attract investors. The WBG can continue to play a major role in addressing institutional barriers to private investment flows at the country level. Examples from Jordan and Ghana illustrate how WBG-supported policy and institutional reforms catalyzed private capital mobilization in the energy sector. In Jordan, the Bank Group’s technical assistance and its support to public sector management reforms strengthened the power utility financially, boosted the development of the wind power market, and facilitated private investments in renewable energy. In Ghana, the WBG supported reforms to strengthen the financial sustainability of the state off-taker in the power sector and promoted the introduction of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standards, which facilitated private investments. With the release of its 2021-25 Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), the WBG put forward strong commitments to mobilize more private capital for climate action and prioritize adaptation efforts, recognizing that developing countries are bearing the brunt of climate change effects. Avenues to mobilize private capital streams into adaptation are not near as wide and clear as they are for mitigation. In fact, only 2% of tracked adaptation finance comes from the private sector. Turning this around will require a great deal of innovation from the WBG and all other Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to structure instruments and platforms that yield PCM deals for adaptation in emerging economies. Through its CCAP, the WBG is committing to linking climate and development goals and integrating climate objectives into all its work. Similarly, the Bank Group -and other DFIs – should seek to structurally expand PCM efforts across all sectors and regions by creating more incentives for teams to increase their financial structuring expertise and use of PCM mechanisms, even in sectors where financing is typically done through direct lending. The WBG, and other DFIs, have thus a critical role in ensuring pledges like that of the GFANZ and the CFP represent opportunities for emerging economies. Greater innovation is required to ensure valuable financial structuring expertise is mainstreamed and geared towards all sectors, including those associated with adaptation efforts. As the global development community moves forward with its efforts to mobilize private investment towards climate and development objectives, clarity regarding the standards and taxonomy surrounding climate finance should also be achieved. Avoiding confusion regarding the differences between climate finance, green finance, transformational finance, etc., can prevent these terminologies from becoming another obstacle for the flow of private capital to where its most needed. IEG is committed to building a strong body of evaluation evidence and gathering lessons, identifying what works and what doesn’t, as the WBG advances private capital mobilization towards achieving its green, resilient, and inclusive development objectives. Read: The World Bank Group’s Approach to the Mobilization of Private Capital for Development |  An IEG Evaluation

Preserving rangelands for people and climate: Lessons from Mongolia

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Jalamchagna Dolgoon, 30, and his friends rest while their cows drink from at a water pump in the countryside surrounding Khairkhandulan Photo Credit: DAWNING, Rafe H. Andrews, Raul Roman
In Mongolia, the word “rangeland” is synonymous with “homeland.” It is a clue to the importance of rangelands in a country where a quarter of Mongolians are herders, and the wider livestock economy provides sustenance, income, and wealth to nearly half of the population. For many nomadic societies herding is at the core of their life. Around the world, rangelands support the livelihoods, social Show MoreIn Mongolia, the word “rangeland” is synonymous with “homeland.” It is a clue to the importance of rangelands in a country where a quarter of Mongolians are herders, and the wider livestock economy provides sustenance, income, and wealth to nearly half of the population. For many nomadic societies herding is at the core of their life. Around the world, rangelands support the livelihoods, social traditions, and resilience of 500 million people, primarily in low-income countries. Yet the rangelands that these communities rely on for their livelihoods face a combined threat of overexploitation and climate change. The quickening pace of rangeland degradation in Mongolia is driven by increased livestock numbers and reduced livestock mobility. In a 2018 report, 12% of Mongolian rangelands were heavily degraded and potentially irreversibly damaged, and another 16% would take up to 10 years and significant effort to recover. This continuing trend has been exacerbated by erratic weather patterns associated with climate change. This includes the increasing frequency and duration of extreme events like drought, floods, wildfires and dzuds (severe winter weather disasters that can lead to catastrophic livestock mortality), that are harming both rangelands and herder livelihoods. This dual threat is impacting rangelands around the world, especially in drylands, where most rangelands occur, and where 73% are degraded. Evolution of livestock sector in Mongolia Following liberalization in the 1990s, the livestock sector in Mongolia witnessed a dramatic increase of the national herd size and a change in herd composition in favor of goats (for cashmere). This was coupled with an increasing concentration of livestock in areas close to markets and services, and a decrease in nomadic practices and animal mobility. These changes have also included increased out-of-season grazing, trespassing on reserved pastures, and an associated rise in local conflict.   IEG recently conducted an assessment of World Bank support for natural resources management, such as rangelands, to assess the impact of these programs on the vulnerabilities of the millions of resource-dependent people. In addition to supporting livelihoods, rangelands have a vital role to play in mitigating climate change as they are natural carbon sinks, sequestering substantial amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the form of soil organic carbon. In drylands, the soils already store more than one third of the world’s soil carbon, with even higher potential under improved management. While evaluating the World Bank’s support for addressing the natural resource management and vulnerability nexus, IEG conducted an extensive field assessment in Mongolia. The following lessons emerged from this experience that can help inform future investments in rangelands: 1. Solutions need to be best fit for the local context to ensure sustainable and equitable outcomes Rangelands are often common pool resources: accessible to everybody, policed by nobody. A common approach to addressing the degradation of common pool resources is to give people individual ownership to increase their incentive to not overexploit the resource. Enclosures (i.e., fencing land and assigning individual plots) were used by the World Bank in Inner Mongolia, China, but this practice had unintended outcomes. In some cases, it increased degradation as restricted herder movement caused continued overgrazing in already overexploited pastures. It also increased inequality as powerful herders managed to claim the best land when it was divided. This approach fundamentally changed local nomadic culture while yielding disappointing productivity and restoration benefits because it was not aligned with local socio-ecological conditions. In Mongolia, the World Bank instead appropriately used Community-Based Rangeland Management (CBRM). CBRM supports local agreement on livestock mobility and storage-related practices, including seasonal pasture rotation that allows for rest and recovery without fencing. The approach is rooted in adaptive strategies that are traditionally used by Mongolian herders to prepare for and respond to pasture and climatic conditions. 2. Governments need to establish an incentive structure that addresses the drivers of degradation and encourages ecologically responsible behavior The governance of natural resources such as rangelands remains a challenge globally. In Mongolia there is little governance of the rangelands: there is no institution responsible for pasture management, and implementation of the existing land law is weak. Additionally, until very recently, there was no taxation of the livestock sector, and thus no disincentives against overexploitation. In the absence of incentives for sustainable management of open access rangelands and disincentives against overexploitation, herders are driven to ever-increasing herds to meet their consumption needs. Extensive interviews in Mongolia found that most herders are aware of pasture degradation, including their own part in it, but they feel the current system leaves them no choice in this tragedy of the commons. They expressed support for a grazing fee or livestock tax, which would incentivize all herders to favor the common good over individual short-term self-interest. Strong institutions at the central and local level, complemented with appropriate governance measures, are crucial to create the incentive structures that help herders make decisions that support healthy rangelands and their own long-term self-interest. Since July 2021, the Government of Mongolia has implemented a tax on livestock ownership, the revenue of which should be directed to rangeland and livestock management activities. Although a noteworthy development, successfully implementing and enforcing this law will require substantial political will and local governance capacity. As of now, it is too early to tell whether it will prove effective in incentivizing smaller herds and facilitating rangeland recovery. 3. Markets must be reshaped to put a premium on quality over quantity to support both rangeland health and improved livelihoods In developing countries, and especially among nomadic herders, livestock supply chains are fraught with technical challenges in meeting basic quality, animal health, and sanitation standards. In Mongolia, as elsewhere, this undermines market access, including export potential. Specifically, the livestock sector suffers from unpredictable trade policies when China closes its border to Mongolian livestock products for fear of livestock diseases. Without access to markets that place a premium on quality, demand is lacking for the high-quality or sustainably produced livestock products that could incentivize better livestock management and smaller herds. This in turn traps poor herder households in a low investment, low productivity, and low-income cycle. Therefore, value chain approaches that address market access, trade facilitation, livestock extension services, and price-quality relationships, are a key part of protecting rangelands and improving livelihoods. Rangelands are currently neglected in the growing global restoration agenda, yet they are a major store of carbon and offer great possibilities for achieving both environment and development goals. By addressing the local incentive structures, markets and socio-cultural practices through the use of best fit solutions, which are also adapted to local socio-ecological conditions, rangeland regeneration and the protection of local livelihoods can go hand-in-hand to achieve development, biodiversity and climate outcomes. Sources can be found in the corresponding sections of the assessment of World Bank support for natural resources management. Note: On Nov. 17, 2021, the blog was edited to include a link to a 2018 report, as well as to provide an update about a tax on livestock ownership implemented in July of 2021. Pictured at top: Jalamchagna Dolgoon, 30, and his friends rest while their cows drink at a water pump in the countryside surrounding Khairkhandulan Photo Credit: DAWNING, Rafe H. Andrews, Raul Roman  

Learning from the Frontlines on Adapting to Climate Change

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Learning from the Frontlines on Adapting to Climate Change
Our first episode, in which we interview IEG's Lauren Kelly and Oumou Moumouni, Humanitarian Affairs Officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to discuss how climate change is accelerating the degradation of natural resources, putting whole communities at risk.Our first episode, in which we interview IEG's Lauren Kelly and Oumou Moumouni, Humanitarian Affairs Officer for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to discuss how climate change is accelerating the degradation of natural resources, putting whole communities at risk.

Reducing Disaster Risk from Natural Hazards – An Evaluation of World Bank Support 2010-20 (Approach Paper)

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Disasters caused by natural hazards are a threat to development, and their costs are rising. Climate change is exacerbating the costs of disasters and putting more people at risk from more powerful, more frequent, and more severe storms, floods, and droughts. People in developing countries, and particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, are most at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods Show MoreDisasters caused by natural hazards are a threat to development, and their costs are rising. Climate change is exacerbating the costs of disasters and putting more people at risk from more powerful, more frequent, and more severe storms, floods, and droughts. People in developing countries, and particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, are most at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods from disaster-related events. Reducing disaster risk from natural hazards, the focus of this evaluation, can reduce the negative effects that disasters have on society and people’s lives. DRR is at the core of the World Bank’s approach to support green, resilient, and inclusive development. The purpose of this evaluation is to learn how the World Bank has helped client countries undertake DRR from natural hazards and how and how well it has achieved DRR outcomes. The evaluation will focus on disaster risks caused by natural hazards rather than other types of hazards or chronic stresses.

World Bank Group Support to Energy Efficiency: An Independent Evaluation of Demand-side Approaches (Approach Paper)

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Energy efficiency contributes, first and foremost, to addressing climate change, but it also to addressing three other critical development challenges: firm productivity, energy security, and household energy affordability and access. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess how well the World Bank Group is supporting client countries to scale up demand-side energy efficiency to achieve Show MoreEnergy efficiency contributes, first and foremost, to addressing climate change, but it also to addressing three other critical development challenges: firm productivity, energy security, and household energy affordability and access. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess how well the World Bank Group is supporting client countries to scale up demand-side energy efficiency to achieve development outcomes. This evaluation will cover IBRD, IDA and IFC, including lending, advisory, analytics and knowledge products for the period FY2011–20 and build on the findings of the previous IEG evaluations on related energy topics.

Mozambique Country Program Evaluation (Approach Paper)

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Mozambique’s recent history is characterized by economic growth, rising inequality, and fragility. After the end of a civil war in 1992, Mozambique enjoyed a sustained period of growth until 2014, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such growth, however, was not broadly shared and inequality increased. Fragility in Mozambique traces back to the uneven Show MoreMozambique’s recent history is characterized by economic growth, rising inequality, and fragility. After the end of a civil war in 1992, Mozambique enjoyed a sustained period of growth until 2014, positioning it as one of the fastest-growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Such growth, however, was not broadly shared and inequality increased. Fragility in Mozambique traces back to the uneven historical development of the state, in part shaped by geographical characteristics, and to the nature of the political settlement and the exclusionary political arrangements that it maintains. This evaluation seeks to assess the World Bank Group’s success at helping Mozambique address challenges that constrain its development. The evaluation will cover fiscal years (FY)08–21 and is timed to inform Mozambique’s next Country Partnership Framework (CPF). The evaluation will assess the Bank Group’s support for addressing three development challenges and drivers of fragility in Mozambique: (i) rural poverty linked to weak agricultural productivity and regional inequalities; (ii) weak institutions and governance; and (iii) vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.