Uma Lele’s Greatest Hits


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After five years of discussion, the World Bank has finally adopted a new forest policy. Announced last month, the policy replaces the Bank’s previous ban on funding logging in primary moist forests. Under the new strategy the Bank will not finance projects that lead to significant loss or degradation of forests in protected areas or that have high conservation value. The new policy also emphasizes forest certification as a tool to achieve sustainable management. The policy does not cover structural adjustment loans. The Bank says a separate policy will address those later.

The World Bank’s decision to change its forest policy resulted in part from a review of all of the Bank’s forest-related work since 1991 by a team led by Uma Lele. As part of the review, the team undertook six studies of how the Bank’s activities had affected forests and forestry in Brazil, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, India, and Indonesia. The Bank published the main review and each of the six studies as separate volumes a couple of years ago.

Now, just as the World Bank has approved its new policy, Uma Lele and her colleagues have come out with a new book called "Managing Global Resources: Challenges of Forest Conservation and Development". The book summarizes the six country studies and uses them to draw general conclusions about forests as a global resource.

The authors argue that governments in developing countries with lots of valuable forest such as Brazil, Cameroon, and Indonesia generally want to use their forest to finance economic growth and to provide patronage to their friends. If people in developed countries want these forest-rich developing countries to conserve their forests to provide global benefits such as biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration they will have to pay them. The real challenge is to figure out how to do that.

In contrast, forest-poor countries like China and India now recognize the need to conserve and even restore forests to protect their watersheds and to meet poor people’s demands for fuelwood, fodder, and other forest products. These countries and their have been willing to invest in planting and managing forests provided they could source funds at a reasonable cost.

Like any collection of greatest hits, the book doesn’t have a lot that is really new. But it’s good to have so much useful information together in one place.


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Further reading

Uma will be launching her new book on December 4th at the World Bank bookshop in Washington D.C. (701 18th Street NW).

You can purchase the book electronically through and can send comments or questions to Uma Lele herself at: