Damania, Richard

Sustainable Development Practice Group, The World Bank
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Development Economics, Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Agricultural Economics, Water Economics, Game Theory
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Last updated November 29, 2023
Richard Damania is the Chief Economist of the Sustainable Development Practice Group. He has held several positions in the World Bank including as Senior Economic Advisor in the Water Practice, Lead Economist in the Africa Region’s Sustainable Development Department, in the South Asia and Latin America and Caribbean Regions of the World Bank. His work has spanned across multiple sectors and has helped the World Bank become an acknowledged thought-leader on matters relating to environment, water and the economy. Prior to joining the World Bank he held positions in academia and has published extensively with over 100 papers in scientific journals.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    When Good Conservation Becomes Good Economics: Kenya’s Vanishing Herds
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10-07) Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Scandizzo, Pasquale Lucio ; Mikou, Mehdi ; Gohil, Deepali ; Said, Mohammed
    It is no exaggeration to state that Kenya’s wildlife has done much to shape the image and development fortunes of the country. Today tourism is among Kenya’s top sources of foreign exchange, dominates the service sector, and contributes significantly to employment, especially in rural areas where economic opportunities are limited. The typical international tourist arrives on a package tour that may include a safari, a visit to the beach, or both. It is safari tourism, however, that generates the most employment and economic activity across the country. But the wildlife that has lured travelers to Kenya by the planeload is in dramatic decline. In the past three decades, the country has lost more than half of its wildlife. Wild herds that once roamed freely across the borders of Kenya and Tanzania have shrunk dramatically in numbers and vanished completely from much of the North. Perhaps most troubling is that recent monitoring of wildlife populations suggests that long-term declines of many of the charismatic species that attract tourists like lions, elephants, giraffes, impalas, and others are occurring at the same rates within the country’s national parks as outside of these protected areas. This report identifies with greater precision the drivers of land conversion from natural habitats to other uses, and examines the extent to which land conversion leads to the extirpation of wildlife and the loss of tourism incomes.
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    Economic Boom or Ecologic Doom?: Using Spatial Analysis to Reconcile Road Development with Forest Conservation
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2016-05-20) Barra, Alvaro Federico ; Burnouf, Mathilde ; Damania, Richard ; Russ, Jason
    The natural endowment of the Democrat Republic of Congo, in the form of land, minerals, and forests, is unparalleled. The right mix of policies has the potential to unleash incentives that could transform the economy. However, transport infrastructure in the DRC is amongst the sparsest and most dilapidated in the world, and this lack of infrastructure is likely a significant constraint to growth. This work considerably advances the information that is available to infrastructure planners, and provides methodologies that could be used to make more informed decisions to identify trade-offs between economic growth and environmental endangerment. The approach draws from the state-of the art across a variety of disciplines – spatial (GIS) analysis, spatial econometrics, economic theory, and conservation biology – to create an approach that can guide the location and level of investments by estimating benefits and environmental costs at a highly disaggregated spatial scale. The analysis proceeds in four related phases that combine economic assessments with geospatial analysis. First transport costs are estimated using GIS techniques. A variety of econometric procedures are then used to determine the economic effects of changing transport costs. Second, highly disaggregated spatial data is used to estimate the effects of roads on forest cover, and the resulting biodiversity that would be at risk from local deforestation. Next the two spatial estimates are combined to simulate the effects of different policies. Finally this provides a series of maps that identify regions where there are large trade-offs between economic and ecological goals. Overall the results suggests that the siting of infrastructure needs to consider impacts at the very outset of the planning process. This report presents both new data and new techniques that can be used to identify areas of opportunity, risk, and potential for REDD+ financing. Such upstream planning has been rendered both feasible and cost effective with the availability of geo-referenced information on forest cover and economic data. This report provides the data and easily comprehensible maps for such an exercise.
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    Is Natural Capital a Complement to Human Capital?: Evidence from 46 Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-11-29) Damania, Richard ; Herrera Garcia , Luis Diego ; Kim, Hyungju ; Viotti, Leonardo ; Zaveri, Esha ; Onder, Stefanie ; Pantoja, Chrissie
    The environment has long been the foundation of human flourishing, but its continued degradation is threatening to reverse recent development gains, especially in human health. This paper analyzes the possible complementarity between natural and human capital by linking high-resolution deforestation data with health outcomes for 0.7 million children across 46 countries. Forest loss is often a consequence of economic activities that may confer market and other benefits. At the same time, it can adversely affect the provision of forest ecosystem services and reduce the associated socioeconomic and environmental benefits for rural communities. The net effect is thus ambiguous. The paper focuses on the hydrological services provided by forests and exploits quasi-random variation in deforestation upstream to assess the impacts on waterborne disease outcomes for rural households downstream. The results not only indicate increases in diarrheal disease incidence among children under 5 years old, but also offer new evidence of early-life exposure to deforestation on childhood stunting, a well-known indicator of later-life productivity. A case study for Peru shows similar results for diarrheal disease, but a weaker effect of forest loss on stunting. The paper concludes that maintaining natural capital has the potential to generate meaningful improvements in long-run human capital.