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March 2016

Singapore Hub gives cities a chance to "learn from the best"

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Despite limited resources, Singapore has defied the odds to become a high-income nation as well as a global trade and financial center - all in just a few decades. The city is also hailed as model of sustainable urban development, consistently receiving high praise for its high-quality infrastructure, reliable mass transit system, and abundance of green spaces.
Inspired by Singapore's successful and forward-thinking vision, the World Bank chose the city-state as the site for its first Infrastructure and Urban Development Hub. Aside from traditional lending and technical support to client countries, the Singapore Hub has been designed to facilitate knowledge exchange between Singapore and other countries on issues relating to urban planning and management.
Jordan Schwartz, its Director, tells us more about the role of the Singapore Hub as a global knowledge platform for sustainable urban development.

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New tactics to nudge habit change for open defecation behavior

Jacqueline Devine's picture
Open defecation remains a critical global health challenge, affecting almost 1 billion people around the world and contributing significantly to the estimated 842,000 people who die each year because of poor sanitation, hygiene practices, and unsafe water supplies [1].
Most behavior change approaches and frameworks for addressing open defecation have focused on relatively conscious, “reflective”  drivers of behavior, including people’s emotions (such as pride or shame), rational knowledge (e.g., of germ theory), social norms, and explicit action plans (such as commitments to change). Using the framework popularized by renowned social psychologist Daniel Kahneman [2].<, these factors can be described as “System 2” drivers of behavior i.e., relatively conscious and motivational factors. It is now well established, however, that human behavior can also be heavily influenced by “System 1” drivers i.e., relatively automatic, cue-driven factors [3].

Delivered: The World Bank’s $750 million IDA pledge for basic education

Elizabeth King's picture
Students at the Wodia Berete School in Conakry, Guinea. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

In September 2010, in his speech on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, then-President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, committed the institution to increase funding toward basic education as part of a strong push towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Specifically, the World Bank pledged to increase MDG-related support to poor countries, including an additional $750 million in IDA funds- the World Bank’s fund for the poorest- over five years for countries furthest from reaching the education goals, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

Does transparency hobble effective governance?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

A remarkable debate on transparency and open government took place on March 15, 2016 at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, Missouri, USA.  The issue was: Is American Government too open? Professor Bruce E. Cain of Stanford University argued that “Yes, American Government Is Too Open”, and Professor Charles Lewis of American University, Washington DC, argued that “No, American Government is Not Too Open”. You can watch the debate here.

It is a rich and illuminating exchange, and one that the two professors somehow manage to keep civil. I watched the debate online but in what follows I draw from the written commentary submitted by both professors, and I try to focus on the universally applicable points that each one made.

How to protect infrastructure from a changing climate

Christine Shepherd's picture

Every other month the news seems to flash images of extreme weather – disastrous heat waves, floods of biblical proportions, and epic storms.  On the rise as a result of a changing climate, these weather events can cause a myriad of damages and put the world’s critical infrastructure at risk. This costs money. The devastating 2010 floods in Pakistan caused close to $2 billion in damages to physical infrastructure, according to World Bank estimates. And Hurricane Sandy wreaked $1.13 billion in damages on New York City’s infrastructure alone (New Jersey and other parts of New York State saw significant damages as well).

Examples like these are endless.

Alongside these increasing climatic risks to the world’s existing infrastructure assets, the fact remains that many countries desperately need more and better infrastructure. This is particularly true for developing countries.  To meet the future infrastructure demands of these economies would require investment of at least an estimated additional $1 trillion a year through 2020.

That’s because the dams, power plants, and roads built today must withstand not yesterday’s or today’s climate, but a future climate that is variable and unpredictable. This presents an opportunity not just for the nations that will ultimately house this infrastructure, but for the decision makers involved in developing and financing infrastructure assets that can withstand climate change.  Officials, advisors, and funders involved in developing public private partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure share in this opportunity to make a difference in how resilience is mainstreamed into infrastructure projects.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

So Software Has Eaten the World: What Does It Mean for Human Rights, Security & Governance?
Human Rights Watch
In 2011, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen famously wrote the startling essay, Why Software is Eating the World, in which he described how emerging companies built on software were swallowing up whole industries and disrupting previously dominant brand name corporations. Andreessen was prescient and almost giddy, in anticipating the dramatic, technological and economic shift through which software companies would take over large swaths of the global economy. What he did not anticipate was the extent to which software would also eat up the realms of governance, security and human rights. Digital technology has disrupted multiple dimensions of governance related to national security, including protection of human rights.

Digital Globalization and the Developing World
Project Syndicate
Globalization is entering a new era, defined not only by cross-border flows of goods and capital, but also, and increasingly, by flows of data and information. This shift would seem to favor the advanced economies, whose industries are at the frontier in employing digital technologies in their products and operations. Will developing countries be left behind? For decades, vying for the world’s low-cost manufacturing business seemed to be the most promising way for low-income countries to climb the development ladder. Global trade in goods rose from 13.8% of world GDP in 1985 ($2 trillion) to 26.6% of GDP ($16 trillion) in 2007. Propelled by demand and outsourcing from advanced economies, emerging markets won a growing share of the soaring trade in goods; by 2014, they accounted for more than half of global trade flows. Since the Great Recession, however, growth in global merchandise trade has stalled, mainly owing to anemic demand in the world’s major economies and plummeting commodity prices. But deeper structural changes are also playing a role.

Is diversifying exports a path toward peace in Syria?

Saurabh Mishra's picture
"Syria". Drawing by Rajesh Sarkar.

Resource rich nations face unique challenges when attempting to move from low to high value added activities.

Resource sectors (such as mining and oil) tend to be highly capital intensive and offer limited employment opportunities to accommodate workers exiting from other sectors with lower average productivity, such as agriculture and informal services.

Deconstructing Construction Permits in Poland

Isfandyar Zaman Khan's picture

To build we need a regulatory framework which, for the construction sector, was embodied in the construction law enacted in 1994. Just as our family grows and our housing needs change, it appears that the same holds true for some laws. This particular law has been amended 19 times in the last 19 years, resulting in a very fragmented and inconsistent legislation - think your mother in law living with her boyfriend in your spare bedroom.

Making a short presentation based on your research: 11 tips

Markus Goldstein's picture

Over the past few weeks, we’ve both spent a fair amount of time at conferences. Given that many conferences ask researchers to summarize their work in 15 to 20 minutes, we thought we’d reflect on some ideas for how to do this, and – more importantly – how to do it well.