Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland and South Africa are among the world’s largest emerging economies. And in the past five years, all have made substantive shifts towards lower-carbon growth strategies – shifts that are still underway. In 2007, these countries represented 33 percent of global CO2 emissions. By 2010, three of them – Brazil, China and India – accounted for over 40 percent of global investment in renewable energy.
Well I’m writing this on Election Day evening here in the U.S., and am rather consumed by the events at hand.
A little more than a year ago, when Marie-Hélène Bricknell arrived in Iraq to establish a permanent presence for the World Bank, sirens in the "Green Zone" warning of incoming missiles wailed through the night. Even before the permanent presence, and despite the difficult security situation, work had been ongoing. A number of important accomplishments had been achieved.
In the decade since the term 'open education resources' was formally identified and adopted by UNESCO, related "teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution" have been slowly but surely creeping into mainstream use in many education systems around the world. North America has recently seen prominent announcements about projects to provide free, online open textbooks in British Columbia and California, following similar sorts of headlines out of Poland earlier in the year. In June, the so-called 'Paris Declaration' [pdf] was released as part of a prominent international effort both to "increase government understanding of the significance of open education resources and to encourage more governments to support the principle that the products of publicly funded work should carry such licenses." In conversations with education ministries in many low and middle income countries over the past year, I have seen a marked increase in the interest in exploring the relevance of the 'OER movement' to national efforts to procure and develop digital learning resources. Traditional educational publishers have been monitoring such efforts closely, identifying both potential threats to existing business models, and in some cases, ingredients for potentially new business models as well.
How might we be able to track related initiatives around the world?
What would the United States look like without a financial industry? This question is the starting point of my recent paper, “Should Wall-Street Be Occupied? An Overlooked Price Externality of Financial Intermediation.” At first glance, the recent crisis suggests a grim answer to this question. As financial activity collapsed, the real economy halted. Lack of financing was associated with record-level unemployment, low investment, and overall reduction in economic activity.
Much of the thinking about the social value of finance has been framed in these terms: we know that finance is important because it performs many socially useful roles, and when financing “dries up,” the economy suffers. However, this logic is somewhat flawed, because the consequences of a shock to financing may be different from a permanent reduction in financing. Equating the two is similar to equating the mental state of someone who just got divorced with the mental state of someone who is single: disappearance is very different from absence, because presence creates dependence. Once you have a spouse, you become emotionally attached, as well as financially and logistically dependent. Once that spouse leaves, it may be difficult to re-adjust.
Do you sometimes wonder if the average person is benefiting when the economy is doing well? Aren’t the poor left behind, even in the most rapidly growing economies? Concerns around rising inequality exist in many countries, rich and poor, East and West. Kenya is among them.
Over the last 10 years, the economy grew at an average of about 4 percent. With population growth of 2.7 percent, every Kenyan would have benefited by a modest 1.3 percent per year, but that assumes the growth was distributed evenly.
Even though many governments around the world want to avoid rising inequality — at least this is what many say — they often don’t achieve it. One challenge is that the already well off tend to benefit more during periods of economic growth. The poor typically also benefit, but their income rises more slowly. Does this mean rising inequality is here to stay?
TEDxSendai allowed us to engage differently with a broader public around a key development topic. We thought the TEDx approach was worth exploring for several reasons:
- The TEDx platform – licensed by the TED Conference – has great presence and a great community of people who are interested in new ideas.
- The World Bank’s own move to open data, knowledge and solutions aligned well with the “ideas worth spreading” philosophy of TED events.
- TEDx’s multidisciplinary approach allowed us to engage with different voices and more creatively with a broader audience.
You’ll find a large amount of data available through the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative: for time-series alone, there are some 8,000 indicators for around 200 countries. And we’re often asked: “what indicators do you have on topic X, and which should I use?” One way to find your way around is to start at our topical pages. Or, if you have some familiarity with our databases already, look at our full repository of time series data.
Editor's warning: The author wrote this post after hitting his head and suffering some memory loss, and the World Bank cannot vouch for the accuracy of everything reported in it.
It was the perfect finale. In the vast high-tech auditorium of Beijing's International Convention Center, the audience jostled in the queue to pose questions to the final plenary panel of the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research.
First came an elderly lady from the Indian subcontinent who asked why the panelists were so old. "How can we address the issues of tomorrow with the experts of yesterday? If we're going to be serious about universal health coverage, we need youth!" The crowd -- mostly young -- signaled their approval. A middle-aged gentleman from South Africa tried to engage the panel on the damages inflicted on world nutrition by the global food corporations. Warming to his theme of corporate neocolonialism, land grabs, and genetically modified foods, he invoked the memory of Lenin. "That's Vladimir Lenin", he explained to the crowd, "not John Lennon." "Vladimir who? John who?" wondered the youthful crowd. The chair, the ever-youthful Lancet Editor-in-Chief Richard Horton, whose favored medium is Twitter, asked the gentleman to keep his comments tweet-length. A young woman from Britain's aid agency, DfID, eventually wrestled the mike from Lenin's apologist, and said what was on everyone's mind. "Richard, Dear Leader.", she urged, "Tell us your thoughts. It's you we want to hear!"