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IFC, WB Team Up to Offer Green Solutions to India's Urbanization Challenge

April 28, 2014 - Of India's billion people, 600 million are likely to be living in cities by 2031. For a traditional agri-based economy, this rapid shift to mass urbanization is and will be overwhelming. Future electricity and water demand is expected to spiral significantly in cities already suffering from chronic power and water shortages. Sample this, in the next 20 years, 70 million new housing units will be needed, requiring over 15 billion liters of water and access to installed power capacity of 2 gigawatts yearly. How will Indian cities catch up and cope with matching needs for more schools, hospitals, roads, sanitation?


Local city government bodies, grappling with challenges such as these, need to take the lead in instituting and adopting immediate steps towards efficient and adaptive building standards, public transportation, 'smart' power grids, flood protection among other imperatives. Can IFC and World Bank offer a solution?


An Integrated WBG Solution


As part of the Low Carbon, Livable Cities initiative, the World Bank Group is helping cities to plan for smart, sustainable, green and inclusive approaches. Globally, IFC launched the Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE), a holistic approach to the green buildings ecosystem that helps builders assess cost effective methods to incorporate green features into building design.


Is this tool relevant for Indian conditions? Building on the themes of energy efficiency and sustainability, perhaps resource efficient buildings or green buildings, could be the answer and a starting point. These and more questions were debated at a recent day-long WBG session in Delhi hosted at the IFC office to understand the nuances of the Indian market, evaluate suitability of existing WBG tools against local challenges to be addressed, identify needs, agree priorities and interventions.


Stephanie Miller, Director, Climate Business, who joined the workshop said, "The cross-cutting nature of this work is very exciting, as it brings together various components of IFC to produce transformative solutions. EDGE is an excellent example of how IFC can work jointly with the World Bank in green buildings, an area where we can have significant impact."


The WBG team, drawn from across regions and Washington DC, agreed next steps where IFC and WB see a role for themselves:


  • advocate for creating an informed market educated on the long-term benefits of 'green'
  • enable policy and regulatory frameworks to expand adoption of existing codes
  • build champions at federal, state, city levels
  • work with financial institutions to launch green mortgages or specialized funding for green projects
  • calibrate IFC's EDGE tool to suit India's needs.


Green Buildings with an Edge


Having made a commitment to build buy-in from investment teams for all building investments to be green at the brainstorming session, IFC South Asia Director, Serge Devieux said his team will explore incorporating green building and resource efficiency components for all building and housing investments. IFC's green buildings portfolio of about half-a-billion dollars across a dozen countries in Latin America, South and East Asia includes projects in China and India. Last year, IFC invested $180 million in green buildings in India - a green hospital, green housing developer, and a green mortgage through financial institutions.


Contributed by Minakshi Seth, South Asia/Communications Practice Group.

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