Making changes at the World Bank has been compared to turning a supertanker in a narrow canal; it may take a while. But the global body that often has focused on massive—and sometimes environmentally destructive—infrastructure projects is giving a nod to the sustainable development of natural as well as human resources.

A March 10 Bank forum about the institution's policies on lending for the environment brought together several top Bank officials as well as some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have both worked with the Bank and criticized some of its policies.