Ecologist, Office of Environmental Affairs, The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

In June 1985, the World Bank1 promulgated a major new policy (World Bank, 1986) regarding wildlands, which are defined as natural land and water areas in a state virtually unmodified by human activity. This policy focuses mainly on the preservation of wild plants and animals and their habitats. It is very significant to the financing of the preservation of biological diversity.2 There is no need to justify this policy to those committed to biological diversity, although such justification has been provided by the World Bank (1986, 1987), by Ehrlich and Ehrlich (1981), by Goodland (1985), and by Norton (1986).

The World Bank’s general policy is to avoid eliminating wildlands—following the first injunction of Hippocrates 2,000 years ago: “Non noli nocere” (First do no harm). Rather, the Bank will assist in the preservation of wildlands. This translates into six specific policy elements that are addressed at various stages of the Bank’s project cycle (see Appendix A at the end of this chapter).

The first policy element states that the Bank normally declines to finance projects involving the conversion of wildlands of special concern, which are areas recognized as exceptionally important in conserving biological diversity or perpetuating en-


Includes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).


Preservation of genetic diversity, particularly varieties of economic plants and animals, is acknowledged to be important but is not discussed separately from biotic diversity in this chapter. The necessary complement, reducing poverty, population growth, and other pressures forcing people to destroy wildlands, is being addressed by, for example, the World Bank and World Resources Institute. See Chapter 44 by Spears and Chapter 45 by Burley.

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