Economic development is tied closely to health of people and the environment, and the World Bank Group understands that development is not possible long-term without consideration for things like climate change, pollution and disease taken into account. The World Bank is a collection of five financial organizations that loan money to developing nations. The goal of the loans is to alleviate poverty and promote development in poor countries. In 2002, World Bank integrated environmental strategies into the group’s work analyzing economic status and influence on policy setting.
On its website, World Bank explains that while countries and citizens have gotten richer, the state of the environment has not been given much consideration. The pollution of air, water and soil could easily collapse wealth creation and create poverty once again. Environmental damage is seen in species loss in the plant world, ocean acidification, climate change, over-fishing and the strain on food and infrastructure created from growth in global population. World Bank aims to solve these challenges with three goals. First is to promote awareness and responsible resource management. The bank also funds projects that reduce exposure to toxic pollutants. It is working on reducing vulnerability to environmental hazards.
A way of influencing policy is through the country environmental analyses papers, which the World Bank has performed for over forty countries. The papers for Ghana helped influence a $40 million program to preserve natural resources. Government officials in Colombia used their paper to identify critical areas for policy reform. The World Bank has also worked with countries like Vietnam, Madagascar, Bangladesh and Mongolia to create air and water quality standards in order to promote public health.
The current president of the World Bank is Jim Yong Kim. Kim was one of Harvard’s first MD/PhD program graduates, is a physician and holds a doctorate in anthropology. Before he came to World Bank, he was the Chair of the Global Health department at Harvard University. Kim is also a cofounder of Partners In Health, which creates community supported health care programs in poor countries.