Sustainable Development Practice Group, The World Bank
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Development Economics, Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Economics, Agricultural Economics, Water Economics, Game Theory
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated May 3, 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 - 6 of 6
The Nitrogen Legacy: The Long-Term Effects of Water Pollution on Human Capital(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Zaveri, Esha ; Russ, Jason ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Damania, Richard ; Rodella, Aude-Sophie ; Ribeiro, GiovannaThe fallout of nitrogen pollution is considered one of the largest global externalities facing the world, impacting air, water, soil, and human health. This paper combines data from the Demographic and Health Survey data set across India, Vietnam, and 33 African countries to analyze the causal links between pollution exposure experienced during the very earliest stages of life and later-life health. The results show that pollution exposure experienced in the critical years of development—from birth until age three—is associated with decreased height as an adult, a well-known indicator of overall health and productivity, and is robust to several statistical checks. Because adult height is related to education, labor productivity, and income, this also implies a loss of earning potential. The analysis begins within an assessment in India, where the data are more available, and is then extended to geographic settings including Vietnam and 33 countries in Africa. The results are consistent and show that early-life exposure to nitrogen pollution in water can lower height-for-age scores during childhood in Vietnam and during infancy in Africa. These findings add to the evidence on the enduring consequences of water pollution and identify a critical area for policy intervention.
Putting the Green Back in Greenbacks: Opportunities for a Truly Green Stimulus(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-07) Taheripour, Farzad ; Chepeliev, Maksym ; Damania, Richard ; Farole, Thomas ; Lozano Gracia, Nancy ; Russ, Jason DanielCan countries reorient their productive capacity to become more environmentally friendly and inclusive? To investigate this question, this paper uses a standard input-output modeling framework and data from 141 countries and regions to construct a new global data set of employment, value-added, greenhouse gas emissions (disaggregated into carbon dioxide and non-carbon dioxide elements), and air pollution (including nine categories of air pollutants such as fine particulate matter multipliers from supply-side investments. The analysis finds that many of the traditional sectors in agriculture and industry have large employment multipliers, but also generate male dominant, lower skill employment, and tend to have higher emissions multipliers. It is in economies dominated by these sectors that trade-offs to a “greener” transition will emerge most sharply. However, the analysis finds substantial heterogeneity in outcomes, so even in these economies, there exist other sectors with high employment multipliers and low emissions, including sectors that are more conducive to female employment. In addition, the analysis finds a high correlation between industries that generate greenhouse gas emissions, which cause long-term climate impacts, and those that generate air pollution, which have immediate harmful impacts on human health, suggesting that policies could be designed to confer longer climate benefits simultaneously with immediate health improvements. The results confirm some of the findings from recent research and shed new light on opportunities for greening economies.
Ebb and Flow, Volume 2: Water in the Shadow of Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-08-23) Borgomeo, Edoardo ; Jägerskog, Anders ; Zaveri, Esha ; Russ, Jason ; Khan, Amjad ; Damania, RichardThe Middle East and North Africa Region encapsulates many of the issues surrounding water and human mobility. It is the most water-scarce region in the world and is experiencing unprecedented levels of forced displacement. Ebb and Flow: Volume 2. Water in the Shadow of Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa examines the links between water risks (harmful outcomes related to water, from droughts and floods to lack of sanitation), conflict, and forced displacement. It aims to better explain how to address the vulnerabilities of forcibly displaced persons and their host communities, and to identify water policy and investment responses. Contrary to common belief, the report finds that the evidence linking water risks with conflict and forced displacement in the region is not unequivocal. Water risks are more frequently related to cooperation than to conflict at both domestic and international levels. But while conflict is not necessarily a consequence of water risks, the reverse is a real and concerning phenomenon: conflict amplifies water risks. Since 2011, there have been at least 180 instances of intentional targeting of water infrastructure in conflicts in Gaza, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Republic of Yemen. Forcibly displaced persons and their host communities face myriad water risks. Access to safe drinking water is a daily struggle for millions of forcibly displaced Iraqis, Libyans, Palestinians, Syrians, Yemenis, and international migrants in the region, heightening public health risks. Tanker trucks often help fill the gap; however, significant issues of water quality, reliability, and affordability remain. Host communities also face localized declines in water availability and quality as well as unplanned burdens on water services following the arrival of forcibly displaced persons. The reality of protracted forced displacement requires a shift from humanitarian support toward a development approach for water security, including structured yet flexible planning to deliver water services and sustain water resources for forcibly displaced persons and their host communities.
Ebb and Flow, Volume 1: Water, Migration, and Development(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-08-23) Zaveri, Esha ; Russ, Jason ; Khan, Amjad ; Damania, Richard ; Borgomeo, Edoardo ; Jägerskog, AndersMigration shapes the lives of those who move and transforms the geographies and economies of their points of departure and destinations alike. The water sector, and the availability of water itself, implicitly and explicitly shape migration flows. Ebb and Flow, Volume 1. Water, Migration, and Development presents new global evidence to advance our understanding of how fluctuations in water availability, as induced by rainfall shocks, influence internal migration, and hence regional development. It finds that cumulative water deficits result in five times as much migration as water excess does. But there are important nuances in why and when these events lead to migration. Where there is extreme poverty and migration is costly, water deficits are more likely to trap people than induce them to migrate. Water shocks can also influence who migrates. Workers leaving regions because of water deficits are often less advantaged than typical migrants and bring with them lower skills, raising important implications for the migrants themselves and receiving regions. Cities are the destination of most internal migrants, but even here, water scarcity can haunt them. Water shortages in urban areas, which lead to so-called day zero events, can significantly slow urban growth and compound the vulnerability of migrants. No single policy can be completely effective at protecting people and their assets from water shocks. Instead, the report puts forth a menu of overlapping and complementary policy options that target both people and places to improve livelihoods and turn water-induced crises into opportunities for growth. A key message is that policies that focus on reducing the impacts of water shocks must be complemented by strategies that broaden opportunities and build the long-term resilience of communities. Doing so will give individuals more agency to determine the best outcome for themselves and to thrive wherever they may choose to locate.
Salt of the Earth: Quantifying the Impact of Water Salinity on Global Agricultural Productivity(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Russ, Jason ; Zaveri, Esha ; Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Escurra, Jorge ; Rodella, Aude-SophieSalinity in surface waters is on the rise throughout much of the world. Many factors contribute to this change, including increased water extraction, poor irrigation management, and sea-level rise. To date no study has attempted to quantify the impacts on global food production. This paper develops a plausibly causal model to test the sensitivity of global and regional agricultural productivity to changes in water salinity. To do so, it utilizes several local and global data sets on water quality and agricultural productivity and a model that isolates the impact of exogenous changes in water salinity on yields. The analysis trains a machine-learning model to predict salinity globally, to simulate average global food losses over 2000-13. These losses are found to be high, in the range of the equivalent of 124 trillion kilocalories, or enough to feed more than 170 million people every day, each year. Global maps building on these results show that pockets of high losses occur on all continents, but the losses can be expected to be particularly problematic in regions already experiencing malnutrition challenges.
The RISE Framework(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-01-17) Balseca, Esteban ; Cuesta, Jose Antonio ; Damania, Richard ; Feng, Shenghui ; Moon, Jisung ; Rentschler, Jun ; Russ, Jason ; Triyana, Margaret ; Balseca, EstebanThe world has witnessed unparalleled economic progress in the last three decades. But success is not preordained, and several headwinds threaten this hard fought progress. Inequality is leaving many people and subgroups behind and excluding them from enjoying the benefits of this great economic expansion. More recently, the world has awakened to the reality of a new type of risk. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) struck at a time when the world was healthier and wealthier than ever before. There is little disagreement over the need to enable a recovery that is fairer, safer, and more sustainable. This report describes how these ambitious objectives can be achieved by providing evidence based tools and information to guide countries to spend better and improve policies. It is in this context that this document presents policy guidance to identify and diagnose key development challenges and develop solutions to help countries build better.