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September 2009

A climate for change in Africa

Calestous Juma's picture

Sub-Saharan African countries are bracing for dramatic impacts of climate change. As Andrew Simms of the UK-based New Economics Foundation has aptly put it, they are “caught between the devil of drought and the deep blue sea of floods.”

Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions have been minimal because of its low levels of industrial output. Yet African countries are likely to suffer disproportionately from global warming. They are therefore right to demand that international climate negotiations be based on principles of historical justice.

But behind this seemingly dismal outlook lies a unique opportunity for Africa to lead the way in adopting low-carbon growth strategies. The region is not too heavily committed to the same damaging industries that its industrial counterparts are having difficulties abandoning. African countries therefore need to complete their demand for historical justice with the design of climate-smart policies.

The rains are late, and there is no grass left...

Sam Stanyaki's picture
The rains are late, and there is no grass left...
   Photo © Julia Bucknall/World Bank

In our culture, we need nine cattle in order to get married. I have worked hard and now have my nine cattle. One of them is a bull. I am planning to get married in February with a big celebration.

But this year, the rains have come so late, and there is no grass left. We are trucking the cattle to other places where we think the grass is better, but there won't be enough grass for everyone.

For the first time, the Ewaso Nyiro River has stopped flowing. There are more people living upstream now, and global warming is affecting the glacier on Mount Kenya.

Just Because It's Legal Doesn't Make It (a) Right: Citizen Access to Information in Latin America - PART 1

Antonio Lambino's picture

UNESCO recently published Toby Mendel’s The Right to Information in Latin America: A Comparative Legal Survey.  The book is organized around the following sections: international standards and trends; features of a Right to Information Regime; 11 Latin American country chapters; and a comparative analysis on the legal and regulatory aspects of the issue.  While Mendel’s new volume is a significant and substantial addition to the policy scholarship on this topic, what struck me initially is the boldness of the book’s title.

The title audaciously starts with “The Right to Information…”, in stark contrast with an earlier major publication on the same topic by the same author entitled Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey, first published by UNESCO in 2003 with a revised edition released in 2008.  As I started reading the chapter on international standards, I found that Mendel explicitly states the reason for this:

Doing Business Report 2010: South Asia

Joe Qian's picture

The World Bank released its annual Doing Business report (pdf) last week which tracks regulatory reforms for conducting business and ranks countries based on their ease of doing business.

Countries are evaluated and ranked by indicators such as starting a business, employing workers, getting credit, paying taxes, etc.

In South Asia, seven out of eight (75%) of the countries instituted reforms that were conducive to business, higher than any previous year of the study.

Pakistan was the highest ranked country in the region at number 85 while Afghanistan and Bangladesh were the most dynamic reformers with three reforms each. Afghanistan’s rank in the study also increased the most in the region, climbing eight spots.

Annual Meetings preparations under way

Sameer Vasta's picture

Istanbul, by maistora

You might be noticing a few changes over here on the World Bank Meetings Center over the next few days — the elements around the main blog post area are slowly changing in preparation for the Annual Meetings.

The Annual Meetings are being held in Istanbul in early October, and over the next few weeks, we'll be bringing you updates about the run-up to the Meetings, as well as updates from Istanbul and the Meetings themselves.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Constellations of Change

Media structures, laws, and policies are scarcely ever modified to find a more beautiful form, or even to develop a more efficient way to achieve commonly agreed-upon goals.  Changes in structure, including changes in law, occur because of pressure from within industry, the society, and the government, from within or without the state... Because (the global communications system's) contours are important for the fundamentals of national identity, for trade, and the world political order, the shaping of it is a matter not only of domestic preference but also of international debate and foreign policy."

Monroe E. Price (2002, pp. 12-13)                             
Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and Its Challenge to State Power

New Structuralist Economics: Industrial policy 2.0?

Ryan Hahn's picture

A presentation this afternoon sponsored by the Development Research Group of the World Bank promises to generate some heat (and hopefully some light as well). Justin Lin, Chief Economist of the World Bank, will be on a panel with Bill Easterly, professor at New York University and author of The White Man's Burden, to discuss Industrial Policy and the Role of the State in Promoting Growth.

Putting Ideals to the Test: Health Councils in Brazil

Darshana Patel's picture

My last post on this blog discussed public deliberation as a political ideal and what happens when that ideal is tested in an actual decision-making space.   In a paper about municipal health councils in Brazil, Andrea Cornwall gives a blow-by-blow description of what happens when deliberative spaces stop being polite and start getting real.  

Health councils were established in Brazil’s 1988 ‘Citizens’ Constitution’ and empowered citizens with the right to review and approve executive-level budgets, accounts and spending plans on health programs. Although overshadowed by the participatory budgeting process, Brazilian health councils can also provide some important lessons on how to deepen citizen engagement and decision-making.   Through the example of these health councils, Cornwall argues that three elements in particular are often “under-theorized” by deliberative democratic theorists.  First, understanding political culture is important. Second, how do party politics infiltrate and impact these spaces?  And last, how is power challenged in these spaces?  (She describes discussions in this deliberative space more as confrontational rather than reasonable.)


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