08/31/2006, 00.00
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World Bank echoes pope: "Environmental degradation hurts the poor"

Gathered in Cape Town for a meeting on ecology, leaders of the financial agency took up the concern voiced by Benedict XVI and underlined the need to look ahead towards balanced, useful development.

Cape Town (AsiaNews) – A few days ago, on 27 August, Benedict XVI drew attention to environmental changes and degradation as ranking among the greatest threats in the struggle against poverty. The World Bank has echoed his concern: pollution in many regions is forcing the economic agency to review its development projects in those areas. This was revealed by leaders of the World Bank, who have come together in Cape Town for a meeting on ecology and pollution.

After the Angelus prayer on 27 August, the pope recalled the "Day for safeguarding creation" that the Italian church will mark tomorrow, 1 September. Creation, this "great gift of God", said the pontiff, "is exposed to serious risks by choices and lifestyles that may degrade it. Environmental degradation makes unsustainable especially the existence of the poor of the earth. In dialogue with Christians of different denominations, we should commit ourselves to taking care of creation, without depleting its resources and sharing them with solidarity."

A World Bank representative said at least 25% of the organization's development projects were threatened by the effects of climate change caused by pollution. World Bank environment director Warren Evans gave the example of "small island states, where rising sea levels and storms – no longer limited by vegetation – have affected the water supply and infrastructure."

According to data presented at the meeting, the anticipated increase in global warming is such that it could even be melting ice sheets in the Poles within a century: so "there is need to think about the future".

"We need to break away from the current concept of project development," said Evans, "and to look ahead. In doing so, we need to ask ourselves if we are we building the right thing in the right place at the right time."

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