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August 2016

What is Korea’s Strategy to Manage the Implications of Artificial Intelligence?

Hyea Won Lee's picture

AlphaGo, Google’s DeepMind Artificial Intelligence (AI) program for Go game, recently beat the world’s top ranked Korean grandmaster Lee Se-dol in a five-game Go match in Seoul. Lee’s defeat by 4-1 turned into a shock for the Korean public and quickly spurred a major discussion on the state of Artificial Intelligence development and its broader impact on society. In response to the soaring public attention, the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) has laid out the Artificial Intelligence Information Industry Development Strategy, which aims to strengthen the foundation for AI growth.

The Paralympic Games in Rio: Where the (dis)abilities matter

Leszek J. Sibilski's picture

“I savor life. When you have anything that threatens life... it prods you into stepping back and really appreciating the value of life and taking from it what you can.”
- Sonia Sotomayor
 
On the evening after the closing ceremony of the XXXI Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, my mind was still immersed in the scene of several thousand perfectly chiseled bodies. I couldn’t emotionally adjust to the “normal pace of life” knowing that I would have to patiently wait for almost three weeks for the next thrilling global sporting festival, when the 15th Summer Paralympic Games will begin once again in Rio. To compensate for my anxious state of mind, I decided to watch ESPN to obtain a mini-dose of sport emotions. I got more than I bargained for. As soon as I turned on the TV, I became engrossed by a short but very captivating documentary entitled: Owen and Haatchi. From the get-go the story made a huge impression on me and served as a humbling precursor and transition to my next sporting festival where Paralympians will be competing in 22 sports and 528 events. 
 
Between September 7th and the 18th, 4,350 athletes with disabilities from 161 countries will share 4,350 compelling and inspiring stories of triumph. As they put the Paralympic spirit into motion to achieve sporting excellence, it will be our blessing to reflect not on their disabilities, but on their abilities and on the joy they have to represent their nations in the best possible way. Sport is a fair equalizer for all athletes; it doesn’t matter if you come from an affluent or developing country, every athlete still has to show up, participate, and finish the competition. The medal classification for the last Paralympics in London was not a mirror reflection of the Olympics. Instead, the para-athletes representing the nations of the emerging economies and developing countries could hold their own quite well. 

How can water utilities provide reliable water to poor people in African cities?

Chris Heymans's picture
Urban Africa: Rapidly growing and densifying.
Photo Credit: Kathy Eales / World Bank

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 targets “universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”. However, in Africa’s fast-growing cities, just accessing water is a daily struggle for many poor families. While Africa’s urban population is expected to triple by 2050, the proportion of people with improved water supply has barely grown since 1990, and the share of those with water piped to their premises has declined from 43 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2015. Poor families bear the brunt of these inadequacies through poor health, the long time required to collect water, and higher costs when purchasing from on-sellers’.

However, some cities stand out as exceptions. What can we learn from cities and utilities that successfully provide reliable and safe water to almost all of their inhabitants? A study I led recently, Providing Water to Poor People in African Cities Effectively: Lessons from Utility Reforms, analyzed how the water utilities in Kampala, Nyeri, Dakar, Ouagadougou and Durban achieved stand-out performance, and how this made a difference for the poor people in these cities.

Quote of the Week: Yahia Lababidi

Roxanne Bauer's picture

"The thoughts we choose to act upon define us to others, the ones we do not define us to ourselves."

- Yahia Lababidi, an Egyptian-American aphorist, poet and author of 6 books. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and his writing has been translated into several languages, including: Arabic, Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Swedish. His latest book, Balancing Acts: New & Selected Poems (1993-2015) is a celebration of more than twenty years of his poetry. Lababidi has been featured on NPR, Best American Poetry, AGNI, World Literature Today, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera and has participated in international poetry festivals throughout the USA, Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East.

Chart: Countries with the Most Freshwater per Person

Tariq Khokhar's picture

For every person in Iceland, there are over 200 olympic swimming pools worth of renewable freshwater. However, nearly 1.6 billion people live in countries where water is scarce – a figure that may double in the coming two decades. Annual renewable freshwater levels in Central Asia are expected to diminish to 1,700 m per person - less than one pool's worth by 2030. The theme of this year's World Water Week is "Water for Sustainable Growth". Read more.
 

Achieving universal access to water and sanitation by 2030 – how can blended finance help?

Joel Kolker's picture
Today, 2.4 billion people still live without access to improved sanitation; about one billion people defecate in the open; and more than 640,000 people lack improved drinking water sources.
 
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals on water and sanitation (SDG 6), countries of the world committed themselves to change this situation by achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation while addressing issues of water quality and scarcity to balance the needs of households, agriculture, industry, energy, and the environment over the next 15 years.
 
A substantial increase in sector financing will be necessary to achieve SDG 6. Recent estimates by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) indicate that the present value of the additional investment in the water and sanitation sector alone needed through 2030 will exceed US$1.7 trillion. Existing funding falls far short of this amount; countries may have to increase their water and sanitation investments by up to four times in order to meet the SDGs.
The World Bank at World Water Week 2016

At present, most water sector actors in developing countries rely on government lending and concessional financing from national, bilateral or multilateral development banks (MDBs) to mobilize financing for capital investment. These financial sources alone will not be sufficient to finance investments on the scale that is called for by the SDGs. It is therefore essential to mobilize up-front financing from commercial sources as well.

  National governments and donors must use their funds in a catalytic manner, as part of broader financing strategies that mobilize funding from sector efficiency gains, tariffs, domestic taxes, and transfers to crowd in domestic commercial finance. If they are able to do so, countries will be much more likely to access the resources they need to improve and expand the infrastructure needed to deliver and sustain universal coverage of water and sanitation services and achieve SDG 6.

What does a circular economy of water mean to Latin America? Join the discussion in Stockholm

Gustavo Saltiel's picture
Also available in: Español

Coauthored by Victor Arroyo, Principal Executive Water and Sanitation at CAF, and German Sturzenegger, Water and Sanitation Specialist at IDB

Also available in: Spanish

Two years ago, during the 2014 SIWI World Water Week, key international experts discussed the need for a paradigm shift in water consumption: the move from a linear to a circular economy—an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.

Wastewater Reuse in the Circular Economy

With global demand for water predicted to exceed viable resources by 40 percent in 2030, it is necessary to rethink our traditional approaches to water consumption and adopt new approaches that allow for this vital resource to be reused as much as possible, and achieve efficient standards for water management.

The World Bank at World Water Week 2016

These previous SIWI World Water Week discussions allowed raising awareness about the adoption of a circular economy as a viable sustainable development strategy; its particular relevance to the water sector, in view of the fundamental and cross-cutting role it has across all sectors; and the combination of regulations and incentives, and strong multi-stakeholder approach, required to allow the market to transform. The need for a “paradigm shift” in the water sector—moving away from traditional linear water consumption patterns of “take-make-dispose” and heading towards a circular economy approach where wastewater is no longer seen as waste or an environmental hazard, but rather as a valuable resource that contributes to overcome water stress and imbalances between supply and demand —is particularly relevant to the Latin American region, and the 2016 SIWI World Water Week event of this year will take this conversation forward.

Promoting partnership for a water-secure world

Jennifer J. Sara's picture

Also available in 中文

The global water community is gathering in Stockholm for World Water Week 2016. This year’s theme, “Water for Sustainable Growth,” comes at a critical time, as we are mobilizing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in which water plays an essential part
 
Water touches nearly every aspect of development.  It drives economic growth, supports healthy ecosystems, and is fundamental for life.  However, water can threaten health and prosperity as well as promote it.  Water-related hazards, including floods, storms, and droughts, are already responsible for 9 out of 10 natural disasters, and climate change is expected to increase these risks.  As water resources become increasingly strained, the risk of conflict and instability may also grow.
 
Over the next two decades and beyond, ‘thirsty agriculture’ and ‘thirsty energy’ competing with the needs of ‘thirsty cities’ will place new and increasing demands on the water sector. Over 4 billion people currently live in areas where water consumption is greater than renewable resources for part of the year – a number that will continue to increase.

3 myths about social inclusion in water

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture
The World Bank at World Water Week 2016

Starting this weekend, Stockholm will host the largest annual congregation of water aficionados, during World Water Week 2016.  It is an opportune moment to reflect on what social inclusion means for water, and on three stylized myths in the “mainstream” discourse, although there are also influential social movements that present alternative views.

Myth 1
Inclusion in water is about poverty or being “pro-poor”? Social inclusion may be about the poor but it needn’t necessarily be so.  


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