UofG researcher contributes to World Bank Inspection Panel report

Published: 29 September 2023

A climate change expert from the University of Glasgow has helped the World Bank Inspection Panel shape a decision on a community facing the effects of coastal erosion.

A climate change expert from the University of Glasgow has helped the World Bank Inspection Panel shape a decision on a community facing the effects of coastal erosion.

The World Bank Inspection Panel is a 30-year-old independent complaints mechanism for people and communities who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected by a World Bank-funded project. The World Bank is one of the world's largest sources of funding and knowledge for development.

In 2021, the Inspection Panel received a complaint brought by members of communities near the site of the West Africa Coastal Areas Resilience Investment Project in Togo. The coast in this region of the world is rapidly eroding causing rapid land loss and substantial impacts on communities and their livelihoods.

The communities felt that the project represented a threat of eviction from their homes, that their livelihoods would be affected by having a smaller area of beach to fish from, and that they were not properly consulted about the environmental, social and economic impacts of the project.

The Inspection Panel sought the input of Professor Larissa Naylor, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, as part of their investigation. Professor Naylor was one of three experts whose opinion on the project was sought during the investigation, alongside world-leading specialists in fishers’ rights and involuntary resettlement.

A portrait of Professor Larissa Naylor of the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences

Professor Naylor is a coastal geomorphologist who addresses ecological and climate change challenges facing society. She describes herself as  ‘a Doctor of Geography, a Doctor for the Planet.

Her work has already shaped climate change, flooding and planning policies and climate change adaptation plans. She advised the International Union for Conservation of Nature and provided input to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth and fifth Assessments. She also was a chapter co-lead for International Guidelines on use of Natural and Nature-Based Features to manage coastal flooding and erosion risks.

Professor Naylor prepared a technical annex for the Inspection Panel, which examined the present and future of coastal erosion on the West African coastal barrier system, where the affected community is based.

On September 12, the World Bank’s Executive Board approved an Action Plan following the Inspection Panel’s report. As a result, the World Bank will work with the Government of Togo to address the issues raised by the complainants and take steps to mitigate the potential impact of the project on local people and their livelihoods.

Professor Naylor said: “I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to the World Bank Inspection Panel’s investigation of this case, my input draws on the knowledge of coastal erosion, and climate change adaptation and use of nature-based solutions that I’ve developed over the course of my career.

“In its three-decade history, the Inspection Panel has investigated about 40 Bank-supported projects, and only a hand-full required the preparation of technical annexes. It’s an honour to have my work recognised at this level.

“I’m proud to have been able to help the affected communities in Togo via this case, and to advise the Inspection Panel on the combined impacts of human activities and coastal climate change pressures on local livelihoods in West Africa. It is terrific to see this work highlighted in a recent World Bank Inspection Panel blog.”

First published: 29 September 2023