Washington, D.C. [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The World Bank’s Development Marketplace competition is looking to award US $3 million in 2005 for innovative, local projects that provide unique solutions to environmental challenges.“Innovations for Livelihoods in a Sustainable Environment” reflects the World Bank’s determination to support local ideas that improve the lives of poor people while minimizing environmental degradation. Development Marketplace 2005 is open to civil society groups, social entrepreneurs, youth organizations, private foundations, academia, private sector corporations and anyone else with a brilliant, but unusual, idea that may not get funded through traditional venues. The maximum award will be US $150,000 per proposal. The Development Marketplace started in 1998 as an internal Bank competition to fund innovative ideas that were not picked up through the usual funding system. It has evolved in a global event that has awarded nearly $25 million for more than 500 projects over the last six years. In addition to the global competition, in 2005 the Development Marketplace will support nine smaller country-level competitions whose themes are aligned with the countries’ poverty reduction priorities. “We all must do a better job of protecting our planet’s fragile environment,” said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. “Despite progress in some areas, the way we have abused the Earth is alarming. Responsible management of natural resources is essential to reduce poverty, especially among marginalized groups who depend on the Earth for their livelihoods.” The Development Marketplace allows the World Bank, in partnership with donors such as the Global Environment Facility and MacArthur Foundation, to give seed money to individuals who or organizations that turn creative ideas into viable projects. The Development Marketplace’s approach complements the World Bank’s work by focusing on grassroots initiatives and working directly with organizations that implement projects on the ground. “The nature of Development Marketplace projects is different. They are much smaller, they directly reach people in need, and they don’t go through our or the government’s bureaucracy,” said John Wilton, who is the vice president of Strategy, Finance, and Risk Management with the World Bank Group. “It’s an opportunity for the Bank to work with people closer to the ground who have practical, pragmatic ideas about how to solve problems in development. Hopefully, we’ll be able to duplicate some of these ideas in Bank projects.” Proposals will be accepted until January 21, 2005 and should address one of these categories: – Renewable energy and energy efficiency at the community level – Innovative application of clean technologies in small enterprises – Biodiversity conservation – Environmental education and awareness – Protecting environmental health (air and water pollution, water supply and sanitation, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – Sustainable use of natural resources (land, agriculture, water, forests) Winners will be announced after World Environment Day on June 6, 2005 in Washington, DC.