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 August 30, 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
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-05) Ali, Rubaba ; Barra, A. Federico ; Berg, Claudia N. ; Damania, Richard ; Nash, John D. ; Russ, JasonThis paper addresses an old and recurring theme in development economics: the slow adoption of new technologies by farmers in many developing countries. The paper explores a somewhat novel link to explain this puzzle -- the link between market access and the incentives to adopt a new technology when there are non-convexities. The paper develops a theoretical model to guide the empirical analysis, which uses spatially disaggregated agricultural production data from Spatial Production Allocation Model and Living Standards Measurement Study survey data for Nigeria. The model is used to estimate the impact of transport costs on crop production, the adoption of modern technologies, and the differential impact on returns of modern versus traditional farmers. To overcome the limitation of data availability on travel costs for much of Africa, road survey data are combined with geographic information road network data to generate the most thorough and accurate road network available. With these data and the Highway Development Management Model, minimum travel costs from each location to the market are computed. Consistent with the theory, analysis finds that transportation costs are critical in determining technology choices, with a greater responsiveness among farmers who adopt modern technologies, and at times a perverse (negative) response to lower transport costs among those who employ more traditional techniques. In sum, the paper presents compelling evidence that the constraints to the adoption of modern technologies and access to markets are interconnected, and so should be targeted jointly.
Publication(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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-06) Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Zaveri, EshaMuch micro-econometric evidence suggests that precipitation has wide ranging impacts on vital economic indicators such as agricultural yields, human capital, and even conflict. And yet paradoxically most macro-econometric evidence (especially in the climate economy literature) finds that precipitation has no robust and significant impact on various measures of aggregate economic output. This paper argues that spatial aggregation of weather at the country level explains this result. The paper uses annual subnational gross domestic product data to show a concave relationship between precipitation and local gross domestic product growth between 1990 and 2014. It then demonstrates that when the data are aggregated at larger spatial scales, the impact decreases and eventually vanishes. The impact of precipitation on aggregate economic activity is predominantly felt in developing countries; it is insignificant in developed countries. Agriculture is found to be the dominant pathway. The results have significant consequences for measuring the economic impacts of climate change.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-12-10) Russ, Jason ; Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sebastien ; Escurra, Jorge ; Rodella, Aude-Sophie ; Zaveri, EshaSalinity 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 impacts on global food production. In this paper we develop a plausibly causal model to test the sensitivity of global and regional agricultural productivity to changes in water salinity. To do so, we utilize several local and global datasets on water quality and agricultural productivity and a model which isolates the impact of exogenous changes in water salinity on yields. We then train a machine learning model to predict salinity globally in order to simulate average global food losses from 2000-2013. These losses are found to be high, in the range of the equivalent of 124 trillion kilocalories, or enough to feed over 170 million people every day, each year. Global maps building on these results show that pockets of high losses occur on all continents but can be expected to be particularly problematic in regions already experiencing malnutrition challenges.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-10-24) Damania, Richard ; Desbureaux, Sébastien ; Hyland, Marie ; Islam, Asif ; Moore, Scott ; Rodella, Aude-Sophie ; Russ, Jason ; Zaveri, EshaThe 21st century will witness the collision of two powerful forces – burgeoning population growth, together with a changing climate. With population growth, water scarcity will proliferate to new areas across the globe. And with climate change, rainfall will become more fickle, with longer and deeper periods of droughts and deluges. This report presents new evidence to advance understanding on how rainfall shocks coupled with water scarcity, impacts farms, firms, and families. On farms, the largest consumers of water in the world, impacts are channeled from declining yields to changing landscapes. In cities, water extremes especially when combined with unreliable infrastructure can stall firm production, sales, and revenue. At the center of this are families, who feel the impacts of this uncertainty on their incomes, jobs, and long-term health and welfare. Although a rainfall shock may be fleeting, its consequences can become permanent and shape the destiny of those who experience it. Pursuing business as usual will lead many countries down a “parched path” where droughts shape destinies. Avoiding this misery in slow motion will call for fundamental changes to water policy around the globe. Building resilience to rainfall variability will require using different policy instruments to address the multifaceted nature of water. A key message of this report is that water has multiple economic attributes, each of which entail distinct policy responses. If water is not managed more prudently—from source, to tap, and back to source—the crises observed today will become the catastrophes of tomorrow.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-06-27) Damania, Richard ; Polasky, Stephen ; Ruckelshaus, Mary ; Russ, Jason ; Amann, Markus ; Chaplin-Kramer, Rebecca ; Gerber, James ; Hawthorne, Peter ; Heger, Martin Philipp ; Mamun, Saleh ; Ruta, Giovanni ; Schmitt, Rafael ; Smith, Jeffrey ; Vogl, Adrian ; Wagner, Fabian ; Zaveri, EshaThe great expansion of economic activity since the end of World War II has caused an unprecedented rise in living standards, but it has also caused rapid changes in earth systems. Nearly all types of natural capital—the world’s stock of resources and services provided by nature—are in decline. Clean air, abundant and clean water, fertile soils, productive fisheries, dense forests, and healthy oceans are critical for healthy lives and healthy economies. Mounting pressures, however, suggest that the trend of declining natural capital may cast a long shadow into the future. "Nature’s Frontiers: Achieving Sustainability, Efficiency, and Prosperity with Natural Capital" presents a novel approach to address these foundational challenges of sustainability. A methodology combining innovative science, new data sources, and cutting-edge biophysical and economic models builds sustainable resource efficiency frontiers to assess how countries can sustainably use their natural capital more efficiently. The analysis provides recommendations on how countries can better use their natural capital to achieve their economic and environ mental goals. The report indicates that significant efficiency gaps exist in nearly every country. Closing these gaps can address many of the world’s pressing economic and environmental problems—economic productivity, health, food and water security, and climate change. Although the approach outlined in this report will entail demanding policy reforms, the costs of inaction will be far higher.