By Sasha Ingber
“Wait, what?” people would say when I told them I worked for the Global Tiger Initiative at the World Bank. “The Bank is saving tigers?” For a financial institution that strives to end world poverty, maybe it’s difficult to connect the dots to tiger conservation. The idea is that poverty cannot be eradicated without a sustainable environment that supports not just human life, but other species.
The GTI was established in 2008, rumored to be a “pet project” of Robert Zoellick, then president of the World Bank. Its mission is to double the world’s population of wild tigers—which now hovers around 3,200—by 2022, the next year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar. For the first time in history, the world’s 13 tiger range countries came together in order to achieve this goal. So during the last week of Zoellick’s tenure in June 2012, he called the senior managers into a meeting and said, “‘It’s a thousand dollar question. What happens to the GTI after I leave?’” recalls GTI team leader Andrey Kushlin. “We were moved from an incubator into real life.”
On July 1, 2013, the small team moved from the arm of the Bank that deals with knowledge and innovation to the arm that deals with sustainable development policies. What does that mean for the future? “We are showing that the GTI wasn’t just a one-time flick. It’s a program which countries need and want,” says Kushlin.
I spoke with Kushlin, my former colleague, about GTI’s newest chapter.
What has worked in the past for GTI?
Our summit in St. Petersburg in November 2010 attracted global attention and brought the issue of tigers to politicians. More....