Stephane Hallegatte, World Bank: Climate action is a way to end poverty and drive prosperity

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
15 April 2016

Stéphane Hallegatte, Senior Economist, World Bank

LONDON: Climate change directly affects the lives of everyone, but it is the poorest who are worst impacted – and the public and private sectors must work together to alleviate such issues, says Stéphane Hallegatte,Senior EconomistWorld Bank.

“In fact we have no choice,” the economist underlines in a Climate TV interview recorded at COP21. “If climate change goes on and on, without any reduction in emissions and any abatement, climate change would represent an increasing threat to poor people and their ability to escape poverty.”

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have today started the annual Spring Meetings, to discuss policies for poverty eradication, aid effectiveness and spurring a prosperous, sustainable global economy.

“We must deliver on the promises of the Paris climate agreement,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the opening press conference of the meetings, “and yet we’re seeing countries around the world about to sign agreements for the dirtiest source of energy, coal.

“So, we’re working with countries right now to piece together deals that would make renewable energy cheaper than coal.” In fact, affordable and clean energy is one of the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the United Nations.

However, “what’s difficult with development is that it’s about everything,” highlights Stéphane Hallegatte. “To eradicate poverty, to provide people with all the opportunities we want them to have, you need a strong private sector – because the private sector is creating the jobs and the activities that you need.”

But the private sector alone can’t change such complex issues. “You also need all the regulations, all the institutions, all the infrastructure,” says Stéphane Hallegatte, “and for that, the public sector is the key. It’s really a balance between a strong public sector able to invest in the infrastructure we need and the institutions.”

PUBLIC-PRIVATE SYNERGIES

Policymakers play a central role in helping the private sector grow, and in creating the jobs and opportunities to drive sustainable economic progress for all. The public sector can also work in synergy with the private sector for insurance and post-disaster support – sectors that are increasingly affected by climate change.

“For instance, after the big flood in Pakistan in 2010 the government wanted to provide cash to the affected population as quickly as possible” explains Stéphane Hallegatte. “The best way to do that was to use the existing network of private banks – making sure through debit cards affected population could just go to the bank and get the cash in exchange.”

This example clearly shows how climate change, development and policies are strictly intertwined – and that focusing on resolving the needs of the poorest on the planet would help address climate disruption.

“For me, the biggest challenge of climate change is not to start from the environment,” concludes Stéphane Hallegatte, “but to start from the end goal: poverty reduction and prosperity for everybody on this planet, and make climate change a way to achieve poverty reduction and prosperity. Not an end goal, a way.”

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