For the first time in history, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10%. The world has never been as ambitious about development as it is today. After adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and signing the Paris climate deal at the end of 2015, the global community is now looking into the best and most effective ways of reaching these milestones. In this five-part series I will discuss what the World Bank Group is doing and what we are planning to do in key areas that are critical for ending poverty by 2030: good governance, gender equality, conflict and fragility, preventing and adapting to climate change, and, finally, creating jobs.
Seawater is rising in coastal Bangladesh. The soil contains more and more salt as the sea encroaches on the land. As a result, farmers see their crops declining. Communities are hollowing out, as working-age adults move to cities. Freshwater fish are disappearing, reducing the amount of protein in local diets. And in the dry season, mothers have to ration drinking water for their children – in some areas, to as little as two glasses a day.
Climate change is finally being taken seriously in the developed world, but it is generally seen as a future threat, to be managed over the coming years. For poor people in poor countries, particularly those living along coastlines, in river deltas, or on islands, it is a clear and present danger – and increasingly, a dominant fact of life.
Globally, the demand for timely and accurate health information is growing, driven mainly by an increased focus on strategic resource allocation and priority setting, as well as the availability of technology. However, in real life, setting up a system to capture accurate and timely information comes with many challenges especially in low and middle income countries. System inputs are often costly, hard to build and maintain and difficult to integrate.
The mishmash of overlapping and incoherent national tax policies and systems, which together comprise the global tax architecture, used to be a niche topic relegated to the fringes of global policy debates and the domain of a small number of technical experts. But the leak of the “Panama Papers” in April thrust these issues into the spotlight anew.
This added fuel to the fire that was started by the 2012 Amazon and Google cases and subsequent initial high-profile leaks that first brought international tax policy under public and legislative scrutiny. The technicalities of issues such as transfer pricing, offshore financial centers, aggressive tax planning and tax minimization, and illicit financial flows involving public officials have gained the attention of the media and taxpayers around the world.
Water and sanitation linked to many development factors
Despite halving the number of people worldwide without access to an improved water source over the past 25 years, the poorest countries are struggling to provide safe water and adequate sanitation to all their citizens in a sustainable manner. Just over a quarter of people in low-income countries had access to an improved sanitation facility, compared with just over half in lower middle-income countries in 2015. Delivery of water supply and sanitation is no longer just a challenge of service provision, but it is intrinsically linked with climate change, water resources management, water scarcity and water quality.
Imagine for a moment that the most advanced spaceship visited Earth in full view of the planet’s inhabitants. From this spaceship, a humanoid life form named Klaatu emerges, followed shortly after by a menacingly large robot. Klaatu’s message to the people of Earth is revealed in one of the climactic exchanges of this story with the protagonist, Helen Benson, a young female scientist that was at the forefront of her field:
Helen Benson: I need to know what’s happening.
Klaatu: This planet is dying. The human race is killing it.
Helen Benson: So you’ve come here to help us.
Klaatu: No, I didn’t.
Helen Benson: You said you came to save us.
Klaatu: I said I came to save the Earth.
Helen Benson: You came to save the Earth… from us. You came to save the Earth from us.
Klaatu: We can’t risk the survival of this planet for the sake of one species.
Helen Benson: What are you saying?
Klaatu: If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life…
Helen Benson: You can’t do this.
Klaatu: …this one can’t be allowed to perish.
Helen Benson: We can change. We can still turn things around.
Klaatu: We’ve watched, we’ve waited and hoped that you would change.
Helen Benson: Please…
Klaatu: It’s reached the tipping point. We have to act.
- Rachel Glennerster on how the “small questions” RCTs have been argued to offer have in fact helped provide a big answer in public health
- Planet Money put together a nice podcast about the Nigerian business plan competition I evaluated
- On VoxEU Stefano Dellavigna and Devin Pope summarize work comparing the relative effectiveness of different types of monetary and non-monetary incentives in inducing effort, and a goal effort to compare the results with what experts predict….with the most menial task imaginable “M-Turk participants… task for the subjects is to alternately press the "a" and "b" buttons on their keyboards as quickly as possible for ten minutes.”
- development impact links
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In keeping with recent global trends in the procurement arena, the World Bank is transforming and modernizing its procurement framework.
In the private sector, companies have long viewed maximizing of supply chains as key to healthier bottom lines. In the public sector, many governments have been moving from overly rule-based procurement systems to systems that focus on performance and achievement of development goals.