Syndicate content

August 2016

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.


Large-Scale Social Protest: A Business Risk and a Bureaucratic Opportunity
Governance Journal

The public versus private nature of organizations influences their goals, processes, and employee values. However, existing studies have not analyzed whether and how the public nature of organizations shapes their responses to concrete social pressures. This article takes a first step toward addressing this gap by comparing the communication strategies of public organizations and businesses in response to large-scale social protests. Specifically, we conceptualize, theorize, and empirically analyze the communication strategies of 100 organizations in response to large-scale social protests that took place in Israel during 2011.

Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development
ITU/CISCO/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development
This report explores the current use and potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in tackling global development challenges, highlighting a number of specific instances where IoT interventions are helping to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. It presents summary conclusions on what is required for the IoT to reach billions of people living in the developing world, and also to accelerate income growth and social development as a result.

World Bank published latest commodity prices: August 2016

John Baffes's picture
In July 2016, energy prices decreased by 4.8%, and the prices of non-energy commodities slipped by 0.5%. Food prices dropped by 3.0%. Beverages increased by 1.5%. Raw materials went down by 1.4%, and fertilizers dropped by 5.0%. Metals and minerals went up by 5.3%, and precious metals rose by 6.6%.
To access recent and long-term historical prices and other commodity-related information, please click here.

Parts of the aid system just don’t work – the dismal cycle of humanitarian response

Duncan Green's picture

Every now and then an email stops me in my tracks, reminding me that Oxfam is stuffed full of bright, motivated, altruistic people. Here’s one I got a few weeks ago from Debbie Hillier, one of our Humanitarian Policy Advisers, in response to my request for thoughts on the state of the aid business. Her views are fleshed out in ‘A Preventable Crisis’, a new report published this week:

"Hi Duncan,

Here is a current example of how the aid system doesn’t work.

El Niño events and other droughts are forecast months in advance.  There is of course some uncertainty in the forecasts, but nonetheless, there is often a high probability of a natural hazard.  And with major droughts/El Niño/La Niña, these can affect many millions of people.

So there are situations of high probability and high impact – like the current El Niño.  And these are situations where we know what the solutions are. There are far fewer complicating political factors than in conflict – we know what to do.

If this was the private sector, there would be a significant response at this point. However the aid system does not work like this.

Campaign Art: The Alphabet of Illiteracy

Davinia Levy's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

According to new data from UNESCO, there are 758 million adults 15 years and older who still cannot read or write a simple sentence. Roughly two-thirds of them are female. That means that approximately 1 in 10 adults in the world cannot read or write. For young women in sub-Saharan Africa, the rate remains very low: 4.5 of every 10 are illiterate (the literacy rate is 65% for that group).

Illiterate people are more likely than literate people to be poor, have children at an earlier age and lack opportunities to participate fully in society and have meaningful employment. The social costs of illiteracy are very big.

Project Literacy is a global movement that brings together a diverse cross-section of people and organizations from all over the world to build partnerships to improve literacy. They created the Alphabet of Illiteracy to demonstrate some of the possible effects of illiteracy in an impactful way.
The Alphabet Of Illiteracy - #ProjectLiteracy

Depressed energy prices playing key role in lowering food commodity prices

John Baffes's picture

Energy prices play a key role in the determination of food prices. The post-2006 boom of food prices was partly driven by higher energy costs, and the weakness in energy prices since 2014 is expected to hold food commodity prices down in the future as well.

Nudging students past the 'completion crisis' at universities

Roxanne Bauer's picture

Education is crucial to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.  Education provides individuals with knowledge, skills and competences that enable them to participate effectively in society and in the economy. Studies show that educated individuals are more likely to be employed, live longer, participate more actively the community where they live, commit fewer crimes and rely less on social assistance. These trends also improve their health, political interest and happiness.  Moreover, highly-educated individuals— those completing a tertiary degree— are less affected by unemployment trends, typically because educational attainment makes them more attractive in the workforce.
Across the OECD countries, individuals attain, on average, 17.5 years of education, according to an analysis of the number of people between the ages of 5 and 39 currently in school. Results range from 14.4 years of education in Mexico, to nearly 20 years in Finland. For tertiary education, the numbers drop, and few countries have workforces in which more than 50% of individuals have a university degree or other specialized training. Women are, however, more likely to complete a tertiary or university degree than men in most OECD countries, a reversal of the historical pattern that favored men. On average across OECD countries, 35% of women aged 25-64 attain a tertiary education compared with 32% of men.
In addition to committing to achieving universal primary education and now several years of secondary school in their national targets, many countries have also recognized the need to boost graduation rates at university, college, and technical schools.
In the United States, college dropout rates are high. Most U.S. high school graduates enroll in college, but only 59% of students at four-year schools complete their degree within six years, and only 29% at two-year institutions finish within three years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (pg. 30).
Students who begin but don’t finish tertiary degrees are in a poor economic position, bearing the costs of tuition and time without reaping any of the rewards a degree offers, including the potential for nearly double lifetime earnings and halve the rate of unemployment.
The reasons for this so-called "completion crisis" vary, but practical barriers like choosing loan amounts, registering for the right classes, or seeking academic support when needed interact with and aggravate larger structural issues, like high tuition rates, poor academic preparation, and the stress of balancing work and family obligations. Recognizing these barriers and designing targeted, cost-effective solutions can yield huge gains in the outcomes that matter most— attendance rates, course completion, GPA, and ultimately graduation.

Vlog voice from the field: Reflecting on the Caribbean PPP bootcamps

Brian Samuel's picture

Past PPP Blogs introduced readers to the Caribbean Regional Support Facility, which ran a series of boot camp-style workshops to increase technical capacity among Caribbean government officials and achieve long-sought results. In our newest video blog from the field, Brian Samuel, a PPP Coordinator with the Caribbean Development Bank (and a former IFC staffer), explains how these PPP boot camps transformed talk into action. Brian's first installment of this series can be found here.

The challenge: How do we measure the mobilisation of private finance?

Jeff Chelsky's picture

Massive amounts of private finance will be needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, there is understandable pressure on official sector entities to demonstrate that their use of scarce public resources is having impact. While this makes it important for them to show how they are catalysing private investment, as discussed in a recent article, measuring this contribution is fraught with challenges.[1]

The first challenge is definitional. Words like “mobilise,” “catalyse,” “leverage” and “additional” are often used interchangeably, with varying degrees of precision and consistency. A number of these concepts appear in the World Bank Group (WBG) “corporate scorecards”[2] — an integrated performance and results-reporting framework — which has presented us with a platform to distinguish the terms.

Will forcibly displaced Syrians get their land back?

Paul Prettitore's picture

 ART production /

With half the population of Syria forced from their homes as a result of the five-year-long civil war, now living either as refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs), many are asking, “Will we be able to return to our original homes?” Recent changes to the legal framework in Syria governing the sale and purchase of private land raise concerns—both for the protection of land owned or long-occupied by displaced persons and for the development of any post-conflict land restitution process. Such regulations may also compound post-conflict reform of land administration practices and bring uncertainty to one of the few economic assets of displaced households.