World Bank Approaches to the Brazilian Amazon: The Bumpy Road toward Sustainable Development
Environmental sustainability has become increasingly central to the World Bank’s mission over the past several decades, particularly after the 1987 Brundtland report articulating the principles of sustainable development. The growing importance of sustainable development is reflected in the evolution of the Bank’s country policy dialogue, analytical work, and lending operations on poverty and the environment. The last can be illustrated with reference to the vast and ecologically sensitive “Legal Amazon” region in Brazil, an area covering more than 5 million square kilometers and currently holding some 21 million inhabitants, more than two-thirds of whom live in urban areas. This paper will review a number of significant Bank-supported activities in the region, identifying the principal changes in focus and approaches to development over time and drawing some preliminary conclusions and lessons from this rich and diverse experience.