• Open Access

How the World Bank funds protected areas


  • Editor
    Rudolf de Groot

Valerie Hickey, 1818 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20433, USA. Tel: 202-473-6343. E-mail: vhickey@worldbank.org


The World Bank is the largest international funder of biodiversity conservation. It invests in protected areas to conserve species and spaces, protect ecosystems, and provide food, shelter, and other ecosystem services to local communities. It spends on average, $275 million annually supporting parks in developing countries. We examined their protected areas investment portfolio from 1988 to 2008 to understand how they allocate these funds. We found that more money is allocated to countries with progressively larger GDPs. Many, but not all, of these investments correlate with consensus opinions of high biodiversity priorities. But the World Bank's investments are not proportional; poorer countries receive relatively more funds than richer ones, regardless of biodiversity importance. We suggest that these investments focus on supporting parks that provide benefits to local communities, particularly in poorer nations, rather than on biodiversity priorities in a vacuum. This mirrors their mission to work for a world without poverty.