By Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver, Canada
Around the world, cities are taking the lead on addressing the challenge of climate change. While senior governments stall, urban leaders are responding to the urgent need to make our cities more resilient as climate change impacts intensify.
In Vancouver, we are aggressively pursuing our goal to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. It's a bold goal, but in working toward it, we are protecting our environment and growing our economy. The successful cities of the future will be those making the investments and changes necessary to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change poses a serious risk to global economic and social stability, and resilient cities will prove to be attractive draws for people and capital.
With decisive leadership, the everyday decisions of city governments can prepare our communities for climate change. By considering climate change when we evaluate new development or infrastructure proposals, cities can save lives, create jobs, and improve our streets and neighbourhoods.
A clear price on carbon enables governments, businesses, non-profits and citizens to make smarter decisions that will have real impact. Innovative businesses aren't waiting for governments to act; many are already internally pricing greenhouse gas emissions to gain a competitive edge. The forward-thinking businesses and regions that price carbon today will have more flexibility and capacity to respond to the uncertain conditions tomorrow.
Tunisian sugar beet and Sudanese sesame seeds are the main ingredients of the halwa made by Tunisia’s Grand Fabrique de Confiserie Orientale (GFCO) company. Great globs of sesame seeds, mixed with nougat, are put in cans bearing pictures of a gazelle. The Ottoman Turks left behind a taste for this sweet not just in Tunisia but in Libya and Algeria too, and this brand of halwa has long made its own way onto their markets, according to the company's director, Moncef Ayoub.
In developing countries, small businesses employ a disproportionate share of the population: SMEs comprise two-thirds of formal private sector employment in emerging markets and create 95 percent of jobs in low income countries. They take many forms, from mobile food vendor to technology firm, and they can be incubators of creativity. But, as studies have shown, on average, they account for a smaller share of productivity growth than large firms.
This week I am in Kigali, Rwanda, to participate in the World Export Development Forum. Its theme is: “SMEs: creating jobs through trade.” At this forum, government and business leaders will discuss the role of SMEs in international trade and strategies for increasing their participation. I will speak about the work the World Bank Group is doing to help improve the conditions for SME competiveness and their integration into the global economy.
Emerging-market benchmark stock index fell for the eighth day and currencies continued to weaken as China’s factory output expanded at the slowest pace since the global financial crisis. The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 0.8% in afternoon trading, heading for the longest losing streak since last November. A gauge tracking developing-country currencies slid for the sixth day to the lowest level since 2009 with Malaysia’s ringgit and Russia’s ruble depreciating 1% against the dollar.
A good quality basic education equips students with the foundational skills (reading, writing and numeracy) they need to function in today’s society and prepare them for lifelong learning. But in many parts of the world, schooling alone is not yielding the expected results, and countries are experimenting with innovative learning and teaching tools, including online platforms.
In Brazil, a Portuguese version of the Khan Academy’s free online education platform (see World Bank Group President Jim Kim’s post last week) is helping thousands of students master basic skills. This effort has been spearheaded by the Fundação Lemann (Lemann Foundation), an organization dedicated to improving the country's education quality.
"Everybody since the ‘60s has been saying the nation is a fiction, the nation is an imaginary unity, but people didn’t connect the dots and say all human endeavors sprang from the same principle.”
- Yuval Noah Harari, author of the international bestseller Sapiens. He is a professor and lectures at the Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The dollar is heading for its ninth consecutive week of strengthening as robust U.S. retail sales in August bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rate. The dollar index, a measure of the greenback versus a basket of six major currencies, is on course for its longest run of weekly advances since the first quarter of 1997. Meanwhile, the greenback’s gains have pushed dollar-linked commodity prices lower, with oil prices sliding to the lowest levels in two years and gold tumbling to an eight-month low.
This week, Vietnam will host the twelfth ASEAN Health Minister’s Meeting in Hanoi. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is likely to take center-stage in discussions, both formal and informal, among the region’s policymakers. After all, the drive for UHC, backed by large increases in public spending to subsidize coverage, is one of the most uniting features of health policy in the ASEAN region today.
Vietnam is somewhat forerunner in the region, having steadily expanded health insurance coverage through the 1990s. Through the Law of Social Health Insurance in 2008, Vietnam consolidated existing health insurance programs and adopted a single payer design ahead of some other larger ASEAN countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Today, not only is 68% of the population enrolled in health insurance but significant public sector investments have also been made to the supply side infrastructure and health human resource capacity of Vietnam in order to meet the growing demand for health care.
Hardly a week goes by without my hearing the statement, “It’s not the What; it’s the How.” On the reform of energy subsidies in the Middle East and North Africa, for instance, the discussion is focused not on whether subsidies should be reformed (everyone agrees they should be), but on how the reform should be carried out. Similar points are made about business regulations, education, agriculture, or health. I confess to having written similar things myself. And there is no shortage of such proposals on this blog.
Reforms are needed because there is a policy or institutional arrangement in place that has become counterproductive. But before suggesting how to reform it, we should ask why that policy exists at all, why it has persisted for so long, and why it hasn’t been reformed until now. For these policies didn’t come about by accident. Nor have they remained because somebody forgot to change them. And they are unlikely to be reformed just because a policymaker happens to read a book, article or blog post entitled “How to reform…”
… until you dig deeper.