World Bank launches new sustainability website

Wed, 24/11/10

A new website launched by the World Bank shows that efforts to reduce its environmental footprint have succeeded in achieving major reductions in the institution’s resource consumption.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the multilateral development bank’s main buildings in the US reduced 7%  between 2008 and 2009, water usage by 4%, landfill waste by 8% , and paper consumption by 15%.

The results of the Bank's eight-year sustainability push were revealed this week on the new Corporate Responsibility website which provides in-depth information about the organization’s sustainability practices. 

“As a development agency, working towards a world free of poverty, the World Bank is keen to lead by example,” said Judith Moore, head of the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility program. “We aim to conduct our business in an efficient, safe and transparent manner. It takes everyone’s active participation to make it work.”

The World Bank has been actively managing its corporate environmental footprint since 2002 and has published reports on its sustainability efforts since 2004.  Over that time, major effort has gone into improving energy and water efficiency at Washington DC and country offices, reducing travel by increasing video-conferencing and pursuing green building certification in new and rehabilitated buildings. Highlights include:

  1. The Bank’s use of paper has dropped by 39% since 2006 through simple improvements such as default settings for double-sided printing on copiers, requiring printers and copiers to run recycled-content paper, and encouraging the use of alternative, digital formats for presentations and reports. An innovative system to procure paper gave a 70:30 weighting to sustainability criteria over price.
  2. By retrofitting the Bank’s Washington DC-based bathrooms with water-conserving fixtures and reducing evaporation from cooling towers, water use has dropped by 34% in the last four years.
  3. Some 44% of the Bank’s Washington DC-based office waste material is diverted from landfills in the form of recyclables and compostable material.
  4. At the local level, World Bank country offices – like Macedonia, Mali and India - are showcasing ways to reduce environmental impact in their countries through high-efficiency building design and conscious resource use.
  5. Forward-looking goals have been set for key aspects of the Bank’s footprint, one of which is to initiate the process to develop a Sustainability Management System (SMS) in the next year.

Besides lowering emissions from its buildings, the World Bank is also developing ways to measure greenhouse gas emissions from its energy, transport and forestry projects around the world, piloting ten projects globally.

The new website also documents progress in the Bank’s social responsibility commitments. A key highlight was reaching a 30-35 percent target of women in managerial posts and setting a new target of 50 percent by 2012. The institution is also on the way to achieving other diversity targets by 2012:  Ten percent of headquarters-appointed staff at the technical level from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean; Forty-five percent of staff at the technical levels women; Forty-three to 48 percent of managers from developing countries. 

The website further supports the Bank’s recent commitment to increased transparency and accountability. The new Access to Information policy, draws from Freedom of Information laws in India and the US, and makes the WBG a world leader among multilateral institutions on disclosure.

Find out more about the World Bank’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and related case studies here.

For more information, contact Monika Kumar at mkumar3 (at) 

Categories: Buildings, Energy, ICT, Leadership, Offsets, Staff Engagement