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February 2016

Seeing the impact of forest fires in South Sumatra: a view from the field

Ann Jeannette Glauber's picture
Indonesia, burned forest. photo by Ann Jeannette Glauber / World Bank

This past autumn, I saw a shocking headline: Forest fires in Indonesia were creating as many greenhouse gas emissions as the entire United States economy.
 
Between June and October 2015, an estimated 2.6 million hectares—or 4.5 times the size of Bali— burned to clear land for production  of palm oil, the world’s highest value non-timber forest crop, used in food products, cosmetics, biofuels.
 
Recently, along with Vice President for Sustainable Development Laura Tuck and Indonesia Country Director Rodrigo Chaves, I visited South Sumatra, one of the provinces hardest hit by the fires.
 
We saw scrubby fire-adapted landscapes that had replaced biodiversity-rich peat swamp forests.
 
We spoke with local communities who explained how they covered doors and windows with wet towels, to help reduce the smoke.  These families are among the half million people who suffered from fire-related respiratory infections, skin and eye ailments; their children were among the 4.6 million students who missed school last year due to fires, some for weeks at a time.
 
While some of these families lost earnings or assets due to the fires, others spoke of how fire improves soil quality. 
 

Sustainable tourism, a unique opportunity for developing countries

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
With the number of international visitor arrivals now exceeding 1 billion a year, tourism has become one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy: overall, the travel and tourism industry contributes to almost 10% of the world’s GDP, and is linked to 1 in 11 jobs.
 
The trend has largely benefited developing countries, which for the first time last year received more tourists than the developed world. At the World Bank, we believe that tourism, when done right, can provide our clients with a unique chance to grow their economies, bolster inclusion, and protect their environmental and cultural assets.
 
In this video, Lead Urban Specialist Ahmed Eiweida tells us more about the potential of sustainable tourism, and explains the Bank’s role in helping low and middle-income countries make the most of the international travel boom.

Developing a financial inclusion strategy: 5 lessons from Paraguay

Marlon Rolston Rawlins's picture




Increasing financial access and financial inclusion have proven to be effective in reducing poverty and accelerating economic growth, and are prominent in the new Sustainable Development Goals.

But expanding financial inclusion nationally requires a well-coordinated effort among different stakeholders.

A recent World Bank and FIRST Initiative project in Paraguay has taught us 5 important lessons about developing a national financial inclusion strategy:  Getting the process of developing a financial inclusion strategy right is key to success when implementing reforms later. 

While we’ve published these tips for financial policymakers as part of FIRST Initiative’s Lessons Learned Series, here’s a quick summary of Paraguay’s experience. 

Leveraging urbanization to fund sustainable development and financial inclusion

Biagio Bossone's picture

Urbanization, when combined with innovations in payments technologies (virtual and complementary currencies), provides an opportunity to finance sustainable city development funds and achieve financial inclusion for urban communities. Virtual and complementary currencies (in paper, electronic, or mobile forms) are representations of value (IMF, 2016) that urban populations can purchase with official currency and use in their daily intra-city payments transactions. Doing so would amount to intra-city bartering, leveraging urban population density to finance a city sustainable development fund with the official currency saved. This fund, equivalent to bank reserves but under community control, can in turn be leveraged to finance fixed assets (dwellings) and physical infrastructures in partnership with investors. By banking official currency through the sale of an appropriate means of intra-community payments (paper, electronic, or mobile), the urban unbanked could be financially included.

A Libyan debate show keeps discussion alive

Christine Petré's picture


You never know what you might hear on the Libyan debate show Hiwar Mushtarak, or ‘Shared Debate.’ The show aims to foster an open dialogue about the country’s current challenges and its potential future by bringing together Libyans of all stripes. There are panel discussions featuring a diverse range of Libyan politicians and civil society activists, and the audience is encouraged to engage, giving a voice to ordinary Libyan citizens.

Weekly links February 19: field experiments in accounting, and the legal profession’s resistance to RCTs, when won’t scientists move?, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  •  On the 3ie blog, Manny Jimenez notes the glaring omission of evaluations of private sector programs during last year’s “Year of Evaluation”
  • On the Conversation, ideas42 shares what insights from behavioral economics tell us about how to help people with their finances
  • Floyd and List on using field experiments in accounting and finance: with a recommendation to work in developing countries because the potential for randomization is higher, the firms aren’t as big, and the setting is less complex.
  • Greiner and Matthews on the (limited) use of RCTs in the legal profession in the U.S. “The intensity of the United States legal profession’s resistance to the RCT is such that, viewed individually, each law RCT appears to be a unicorn, a magical creation with no origin story that appears briefly in a larger setting and then fades away.” They find more than 50 RCTs, but note that “what looking we were able to do generated no evidence that the results of an RCT in the United States legal profession were actually used, in the sense that a program or policy changed because of the study’s results.”…” even when researchers have been able to field RCTs in the United States legal profession, lawyers and judges sometimes undermined them. And the lawyers and judges who did so appeared to have a common motive: certainty as to the “right” answer.”

Four ways open data is changing the world

Stefaan Verhulst's picture

Library at Mohammed V University at Agdal, RabatDespite global commitments to and increasing enthusiasm for open data, little is actually known about its use and impact. What kinds of social and economic transformation has open data brought about, and what is its future potential? How—and under what circumstances—has it been most effective? How have open data practitioners mitigated risks and maximized social good?

Even as proponents of open data extol its virtues, the field continues to suffer from a paucity of empirical evidence. This limits our understanding of open data and its impact.

Over the last few months, The GovLab (@thegovlab), in collaboration with Omidyar Network (@OmidyarNetwork), has worked to address these shortcomings by developing 19 detailed open data case studies from around the world. The case studies have been selected for their sectoral and geographic representativeness. They are built in part from secondary sources (“desk research”), and also from more than 60 first-hand interviews with important players and key stakeholders. In a related collaboration with Omidyar Network, Becky Hogge (@barefoot_techie), an independent researcher, has developed an additional six open data case studies, all focused on the United Kingdom.  Together, these case studies, seek to provide a more nuanced understanding of the various processes and factors underlying the demand, supply, release, use and impact of open data.

After receiving and integrating comments from dozens of peer reviewers through a unique open process, we are delighted to share an initial batch of 10 case studies, as well three of Hogge’s UK-based stories. These are being made available at a new custom-built repository, Open Data’s Impact, that will eventually house all the case studies, key findings across the studies, and additional resources related to the impact of open data. All this information will be stored in machine-readable HTML and PDF format, and will be searchable by area of impact, sector and region.

The impact of tourism: How can we all do this better?

John Perrottet's picture

Tourism is growing, and growing fast. After surpassing 1 billion international visitors in 2012, we are expecting 1.8 billion by 2030. Tourism is growing faster than the global economy and, for the first time, the statistics for 2015 are expected to show that there were more trips taken to the developing world than to the developed world. But what does this actually mean?

Growth, on its own, is not enough. Destinations and their stakeholders are responsible for ensuring that growth is well-managed; that benefits are maximized; and that any negative externalities are minimized. This requires a continuous process of planning and management that evolves and that can be measured over time.

For the World Bank Group, our clients and our development partners, this process of planning and management is a central interest. How can we help these processes to deliver more and better development impact? What kinds of interventions or types of assistance will deliver the best results? How do you define the best results – for whom? – and how do we measure them?

Being able to demonstrate how the tourism sector contributes to the Bank Group’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity is an imperative for all stakeholders. It’s relevant for national governments, sub-national state agencies, businesses (both multinationals and SMEs), multilateral development banks, NGOs, academics and think tanks. Moreover, it’s vital in helping guide future planning and development, gaining access to and applying for funding, and demonstrating progress to constituents at all levels.

Mobilizing the buildings sector for climate action

Marcene D. Broadwater's picture

Also available in: Spanish

Kolkata West International City, India. Credits: IFC


With the passing of the historic climate change agreement in Paris, the buildings sector, which accounts for 32 percent of total energy use and 19 percent of GHG emissions, has been highlighted as a key industry to transform in order to achieve global climate mitigation goals. The private sector has responded with ambitious pledges for action, and must now turn to practical solutions to put the building sector on a low-carbon path.

The good news is that the level of aspiration is very high. I participated in the first-ever Buildings Day at COP21, witnessing ambitious commitments from both the public and the private sector. Over 90 countries have included attention to buildings in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with greater than 1,300 commitments from companies and industry and professional organizations.

Developing Public to Public Partnerships (P2Ps) that improve infrastructure’s social and economic value

Malcolm Morley's picture

Public sector organizations seek constantly to improve the Economic and Social Value Equation.  The Economic and Social Value Equation is represented by:
 

Increasingly, improvements to this equation are being sought through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). These improvements have frequently focused on value for money and not always adequately addressed increases in community wellbeing.  The challenge for the future is to achieve transformation of both economic value for money and community wellbeing.  This requires a focus on additionality in PPPs.


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