Sofia, September 29, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
The World Bank will help Bulgaria protect and better manage its natural assets, like forests and air, as well as mitigate the risks of climate change, the Bank said in a statement.
Two contracts for analytical and advisory services were signed on September 28 between the Bank and the Ministry of Environment and Water to be funded under the EU Operational Programs Environment and Good Governance.
The third contract for forestry, supported by EU Rural Development Funds, was endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food earlier in September.
Under the contract for addressing the climate risks, the World Bank will assess the macroeconomic implications of climate change in Bulgaria.
World Bank experts will study key sectors including agriculture, forestry, water, transport and infrastructure, and their findings will contribute to Bulgaria’s Climate Change National Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan.
According to the World Bank report from 2014, Bulgaria is exposed to almost all types of natural disasters and perils associated with climate change. Those risks may cause loss of human life as well as damages worth millions of euro every year, largely affecting economic stability and growth.
Since 1999, the frequency of natural disasters in Bulgaria has increased significantly, and 10 calamities have been recorded between 2004 and 2006.
The second contract will help develop local programs for air quality management in order to meet EU directive and requirements.
The European Commission has set up ambitious targets for reducing air pollution by 2020.
According to the recent World Bank global report “The Cost of Air Pollution”, air pollution has emerged as the fourth factor for premature death worldwide. Those deaths cost the global economy about 200 billion euro in lost labor income in 2013.
The report also argues that pollution may have a lasting effect on economic productivity and may contribute to inequality.
The World Bank team will also help to establish the National Forest Inventory by supporting Bulgaria in developing the sampling and methodology design and then implementing the agreed approach.
This will help improve the statistical accuracy and integration of forest data in specialized software.
As part of this work, the World Bank will also interpret orthophotos taken between 2012 and 2015 for all of Bulgaria.
An orthophoto is an aerial photograph that has been geometrically corrected for distortions, making it equivalent to a map. Orthophotographs are commonly used in the creation of a Geographic Information System (GIS) database. Forests in Bulgaria cover more than 37 percent of the territory.
“Preserving the environment and protecting Bulgaria’s natural assets is a key objective in the new Country Partnership Framework for Bulgaria endorsed by the Board of Executive Directors in May this year,” said Tony Thompson, World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
“We are glad to be able to support the Government of Bulgaria with the World Bank’s global knowledge and to provide ideas on how to exploit natural resources in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Bulgarians.”
All contracts need parliamentary ratification to take effect. The analytical work undertaken by the World Bank will be the property of the Bulgarian government, the World Bank said.