Important developments today:
1. Global equity market are headed for their worst quarter since 2008.
2. Economic sentiment in Europe on downward trend.
I spent a great couple of days earlier this week with representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world who are members of our World Bank – Civil Society Consultative Group on Health, Nutrition, and Population. When it was launched earlier this year, we envisioned the consultative group as a forum for CSOs and our Bank-wide health team to share perspectives and discuss frankly any concerns we may have about our respective work in health, nutrition, and population, and to learn from one another. So it’s exciting to see this group beginning to move from theory to action.
· Tim Ogden has two nice posts discussing critiques of randomized trials at the Financial Access Blog.
My colleagues and I at the World Bank are saddened by the death of Professor Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement.
Professor Maathai dedicated most of her adult life to nature conservancy and was world-renowned for her deep conviction for environmental protection and climate-change mitigation.
We are proud to have interacted extensively with Professor Maathai. We pay tribute to her for her selfless and tireless efforts to protect the natural environment, both to ensure sustainable development and to promote world peace.
Professor Maathai was actively engaged in working with the World Bank Group, both in Kenya and around the world. Besides engaging World Bank leaders in important conversations on forest conservation, water resource management, and adaption to climate change, she actively participated in the preparation and dissemination of the seminal World Development Report for 2010, on climate change. We remember how passionately she campaigned for a better understanding of the multiple ways that we can and should protect our fragile natural environment, as well as for the preservation of Uhuru Park and the Karura Forest, two of the most important green spaces in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.
Investment in gender equality is smart economics, according to the recently launched World Development Report (WDR 2012) of the World Bank. Increasing women’s access to resources and participation in economic opportunities can increase productivity, improve outcomes for children and improve the overall development prospects of a country, concludes the report. However, a number of factors, mainly gender roles guided by staunch social norms and rigid institutional practices, have impeded recognition of women’s participation and contributions in economic activities. To address this issue, WDR proposes focused domestic public policies. In a recently held brown bag luncheon at the Bank, Dr. Fouzia Saeed shared her experience regarding these topics, and the resultant groundbreaking legislation in protection and promotion of Pakistani women’s rights and contributions to their country’s development.
On September 17th 2011, six youth delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka met for the first time in Washington D.C to attend the ‘World Bank & IMF Annual Meetings 2011’. Though it was the first time we’d seen each other, it felt as if we had known one another for a long time! This was all thanks to our numerous Facebook, Skype and e-mail conversations that took place prior to our final meeting in the U.S.A, which allowed us to recognize the one thing that we all had in common: The aim and drive for socio-economic progress & development in our countries and region and the strong belief that South Asian youth are the key to bringing about the positive change!
I came to the World Bank in 2003 with 25 years developing country experience − but all in Asia. I knew that I needed to quickly become familiar with other parts of the world, particularly Africa. So I went on a 10-day immersion “course” to Kenya, led and managed by Professor Wangari Maathai’s daughter, Wanjira.
I first met Prof. Maathai in one of her District villages − she was serving as a Member of Parliament and Vice Minister of Environment at the time. I was greeted at that first meeting the same way she greeted me in all subsequent meetings −with smiling eyes showing warmth and true joy in meeting me, and her embrace sending a signal of graceful strength. Our friendship was quickly solidified when she asked me where I was from. Kansas, I had said − and she smiled and told me that she had gone to university and received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas!
At that first meeting, she was surrounded by villagers who loved and honored her. I thought that I was going to see trees and hear about the way the Green Belt Movement engages women to replant degraded and denuded hillsides with indigenous tree seedlings which they raise in village nurseries. Of course that was one part of the day but the primary focus of the Professor was on helping the village deal with the struggle against HIV-AIDS.
She had arranged for the construction of a small shelter for villagers suffering from the disease, and perhaps more importantly, was teaching them to grow nutritious food in the adjacent garden that would help give strength to those who could still lead a reasonably productive life. It was a community effort in an already-impoverished community that was hard hit by HIV-AIDS. Her love for the people and theirs in return was evident at every turn and in every place where initiatives were underway to improve the quality of the lives of the villagers, in part by improving the productivity and services of the surrounding ecosystems. Prof. Maathai was thus a pioneer in applying the concept of protecting and restoring ecosystems as a fundamental element of reducing rural poverty.
In our last blog, we asked whether it is possible for an infrastructure investment in Latin America and the Caribbean to hit the triple win: spur growth, aid societal well-being, and help the environment.
One young woman, on the World Bank Facebook page, posted this plea: "We as citizens have to demand these types of investments from our governments: modern roads, clean energy, investments that create employment without contaminating." ("Nosotros como ciudadanos tenemos que exigir ese tipo de inversiones a nuestros gobiernos: vías modernas, energía limpia que dé trabajo y no contamine.")
I take this as a signal that we should move beyond growth, so...
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Wall Street Journal
World Bank Says National Anti-Corruption Authorities Need to Step Up
“The World Bank’s anti-graft unit says many countries aren’t following through with investigations of corrupt conduct discovered by bank officials.
The Integrity Vice Presidency referred 40 cases to governments and anti-corruption agencies for investigation in fiscal 2011, and 32 cases the year before, but the response has been underwhelming, bank officials said in a report released Friday.
“We expect national authorities to give proper attention and consideration to the Bank Group’s referrals of investigative information,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in an introduction to the report. ‘Ideally, this should lead to their undertaking competent investigations, prosecutions, and adjudication within the country—but it often has not.’” READ MORE