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Spotlight on the Environment: Europe and Central Asia

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Factory in Poland
 

The Europe & Central Asia region starts from a high level of water infrastructure, but is nevertheless off track to halve the proportion of people without access to an improved source of water and sanitation facilities by 2015, and has the highest energy intensity of GDP of any developing region. However, the region’s institutional and policy capacity to deal with environmental issues has increased sharply. The region also does not face severe risks from climate change.

The link between environment and health

Fig 2.12 - Environmental disease burden in DALY

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green arrowThis map shows the region’s burden of environment-related disease in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY = one full year of healthy life lost. 
green arrowWhile the region inherited high levels of infrastructure coverage from the former Soviet Union, poor maintenance and service outages are major concerns, leading to very slow progress in increasing coverage. As a result, the region is off track to halve the proportion of people without access to an improved source of water and sanitation facilities by 2015.
green arrow12 of 19 countries in the region are seriously off track on the sanitation target. 
Environmental sustainability 
green arrowWater resources are abundant in the region, which had over 10,000 cubic m of internal freshwater resources per capita as of 2005. 
green arrowSubsoil assets are very important in the region, where they constitute 68 percent of natural wealth.
 green arrow Like many large extractive economies, Russia is not saving enough to offset resource depletion and environmental degradation. On the other hand, Ukraine is on a more sustainable path. 
green arrowRussia is the fourth-highest emitter of industrial water pollution in the world (as of 2001), emitting nearly 1.4 million kg of water pollutants a day and 21 g per worker per day. 
 green arrow The largest increase in the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) rating has taken place in Europe & Central Asia, which moved from an average score of 3.1 in 1999 to 3.8 in 2006 on a scale of 1 to 6. 
 green arrow Between 1994 and 2004 many countries in the region offset relatively small increases in carbon dioxide emissions due to GDP growth by reducing the carbon intensity of their output, including Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. 
 green arrow Yet the region as a whole has the highest energy intensity of GDP of any developing region, largely because of the continued use of old inefficient production equipment across various industries, dilapidated heating systems in cities and towns, high transmission and distribution losses, and inefficient stocks of household appliances. 
 green arrow The impact of climate change on health in Europe is negligible and the impacts of temperature change on agriculture are likely to be favorable. Where poor farmers may be affected by weather shocks, weather-index insurance (being piloted in Ukraine) may be useful. 
Photo credit: Paul Prescott | Dreamstime.com



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