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January 2010

DM2009 Finalist From Serbia Finds Funding

Zorica Svirčev's picture

Since the DM2009 competition where our clean-water project was a finalist, we have received Serbian government funds for introducing new detection methods for the rapidly growing public health problem of cyanotoxins in water and plant and animal tissue.

Cyanobacteria has been on the Earth for 3.5 billion years, but global warming and climate change have significantly increased the occurrence of toxic cyanobacterial blooms, causing sickness and death for wildlife, livestock, and domesticated pets who drink freshwater contaminated with toxic algae blooms. The toxins pose a significant health threat to humans and other mammals that consume fish.

Thanks to the new funding from the Provincial Secretary for Science and Tehnological Development, our recent results, produced at the very beginning of 2010, show elevated content of toxins in fish meat, macrophyta tissue, and sediment of some commercial fish ponds. We also registered toxic blooms during December in one local lake.

Why Aren't Asset Managers Factoring in Climate Change?

Rachel Ilana Block's picture

There is a self-interested economic logic that often holds true for political questions relating to climate change.  As reflected in the poll of public attitudes toward climate change commissioned by the WDR and published last month, citizens of the poorest countries—those most vulnerable to the physical impacts of climate change—are much more likely to rate climate change as “very serious” than are citizens of high-income countries, who possibly perceive themselves as less vulnerable.  The shares ranking climate change as a very serious problem were: U.S. 31%, Japan 38%, and France 43%, in contrast to Senegal 72%, Kenya 75%, and Bangladesh 85%.

Yet, while the livelihoods of a fisherman in Senegal, a pastoralist in Kenya, and a rice farmer in Bangladesh’s delta might be the most immediately vulnerable to climate change, it’s worth noting that the assets of an insurance company on the U.S.’s Gulf Coast, a real estate investor in Japan, and a champagne-producing giant in France are vulnerable too.

What Makes Regular Folk Become Anti-Corruption Advocates?

Fumiko Nagano's picture

CommGAP believes that social norms transformation is key to fighting petty corruption; we believe that one of the biggest impediments to anti-corruption efforts from the perspective of ordinary citizens is when corruption and bribery become so institutionalized in society that people view corruption as the fixed and incontestable norm. To break down such a system, the public’s ignorance of their rights, cynicism, fear of reprisal and mentality of submission to the status quo must first be defeated. Perhaps most importantly, the efficacy challenge needs to be addressed—people need to believe that they can actually do something about corruption so that they can act on that belief.

Technology Innovation

Xiaodong Wang's picture

As my colleague Mike Toman noted recently, Geoffrey Heal of Columbia University said the following in a recent blog post:

"neither costs nor capital requirement will prevent us from decarbonising the electricity supply. The real obstacle to doing this largely with renewables is our current inability to store power, and as long as we cannot store power we will need to use non-renewable sources like nuclear and coal with carbon capture and storage."

However, this view does not factor in future technological innovation, which I think is very significant.

The IEA Energy Technology Perspective projected that renewable energy could contribute around 50% of the power mix by 2050 under their Blue Scenario to achieve a 450 ppm world. Many other global leading energy/climate scenarios have the same projections, including those from Shell. Of renewable energy resources, geothermal, hydro, and biomass can provide base-load power. Indeed, solar and wind are intermittent.

Solving the microfinance savings riddle

A few months ago I discussed the release of the World Bank publication on Bringing Finance to Pakistan's Poor. One of the authors' key findings was that most Pakistanis have a strong aversion to debt, and are seeking financial channels to store their savings, rather than for borrowing. According to their survey data, most Pakistanis are more interested in accessing savings accounts than loans.

East Asia & Pacific: Risks to economic recovery from the return to business-as-usual in developed countries

Ivailo Izvorski's picture

The prediction season is in full swing, and prognosticators have, as usual, appended the warning that economic forecasts at this stage are subject to exceptional uncertainty.  Such exceptional uncertainty is always with us when looking ahead – there is always a fork in the road, no matter what the circumstances are. 

The nuance this year is that, while the recovery in East Asia will depend on prospects for the rest of the world, notably in the advanced economies, the outlook for those economies hinges on policies to address the causes of the financial crisis. Thus far, it’s clear that very little has been done to redress the regulatory issues that led to a near meltdown of the global financial system – while the rebound from the financial and economic crisis has been substantially stronger than anticipated only months earlier.  And these developments explain why opinions differ on the future path of regulatory reforms and their impacts.

Will There Be a Battle Over Climate Change Funds in Developing World?

Tom Grubisich's picture

We now know the price of climate adaptation in developing countries –- US$75-100 billion per year between 2010 and 2050.  The recently published costs were explained by their World Bank estimators in a panel discussion at the Bank on Tuesday.  But who, exactly, will do the adapting?

Most of the developing countries that will be hardest hit by climate change are poor (20) and some of them are classified as fragile (six).  Poor –- and especially fragile – countries are already hard pressed to effectively implement current economic growth strategies because their governments don’t have adequate capacity in launching projects (e.g., local ownership, rigorous monitoring and evaluation, focus on results, feedback mechanism).   Multilateral development banks, like the World Bank, are increasingly turning to non-governmental organizations to close the capacity gap.

Climate-adaptation spending – if it’s fully funded – would equal what’s now spent on “official development assistance” (ODA).  Besides, climate adaptation, because it's unexplored terrain in many respects, will require a lot of learning, knowledge, and innovation.  So how would the doubling of development funding be matched by capacity?  The new cost-of-adaptation study says, very confidently: “For all sectors, adaptation costs include the costs of planned, public policy adaptation measures and exclude the costs of private adaptation.” 

Does that mean that NGOs wouldn’t get a share of the billions of dollars in annual climate-adaptation funds that are expected to flow from developed to developing countries in coming years as part of the recent Copenhagen “accord”?  Not necessarily.  After Tuesday’s panel, I asked the chief author of the World Bank cost study, Sergio Margulis, if his numbers covered only climate adaptation carried out by national and regional governments, or might they be a “hybrid” that included NGOs. “A hybrid,” he said.

Media Without Borders

Caroline Jaine's picture

We are unstoppable when it comes to communicating.  “Communicate” means “to share” and it comes as second nature (it’s socially addictive in fact).  The 300 million of us blogging can rarely be silenced.  A comment on a Minister’s blog can provoke a policy change.   A micro-blog can influence a legal challenge (the Trafigura/Carter Ruck affair) or inspire masses (the Iranian elections were the top news story on Twitter last year).  And a social network group like Facebook can undermine an X-Factor winner’s success (a winner ironically chosen by “the people” by telephone vote).  It is the public, not governments that are beginning to drive change. But whether we like it or not it’s still mainstream media that is being listened to most – TV, radio and most powerful of all – the old fashioned newspaper read out loud.  It’s more coherent, more organised, and usually better written than the complex voice of the masses.  Big media still counts.