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The Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability Nexus: An Evaluation of the World Bank’s Support for Sustainable and Inclusive Natural Resource Management (2009–2019)

This evaluation assesses how well the World Bank has addressed natural resource degradation to reduce the vulnerabilities of resource-dependent people.

Over a half of a billion people live in extreme poverty, most of whom depend on natural resources for their survival. Yet these resources are becoming increasingly degraded, and climate change threatens to increase the vulnerability of the poor. The natural resources that are highly degraded and the people who are highly vulnerable are interconnected by the “natural resource degradation and human vulnerability nexus,” which is the subject of this evaluation.

Overall, the World Bank has been effective at improving natural resource management practices, but related projects struggle to find the right balance between achieving resource restoration and meeting the needs of vulnerable resource users. The evaluation recommends, and management agrees to better identify and address the heterogenous needs of different subgroups of resource users, address the underlying factors that drive natural resource degradation, and enhance measurement of natural resource and human vulnerability outcomes.

Renewable natural resources are becoming increasingly degraded, that is, declining in their productive capacity to sustain uses necessary for human well-being and inclusive growth.

  • One-third of all land and 20 percent of all forest cover has been severely degraded (UNCCD 2017).
  • Groundwater, which accounts for 50 percent of drinking water and 43 percent of water used for irrigation, is being depleted at an alarming rate (Smith et al. 2016).

The fraction of fish stocks at biologically sustainable levels decreased from 90 percent in 1974 to 67 percent in 2015 (FAO 2018b).

Many of the world’s poor people are resource dependent, that is, directly reliant on natural resources for their well-being.

  • Four-fifths of the world’s poor live in rural areas, and most rural poor people depend on increasingly degraded natural resources for their livelihoods (IFAD 2015; World Bank 2018c).
  • Most of the 3.1 billion people who live in rural areas depend directly on soil and land (FAO 2017).
  • The livelihoods of 2 billion people who live in drylands and who also rear half of the world’s livestock are especially threatened.
  • About 240 million people, including those in many indigenous communities, derive approximately 20 percent of their income from forest resources, which provide 30 million jobs in the informal sector (FAO 2018a).

A focus on :

Chapter 2 | Doing the Right Things in the Right Places to Address Natural Resource Degradation and Human Vulnerability

Chapter 3 | Effectiveness of Activities Addressing Natural Resource Degradation and Vulnerability