A year ago, if you had asked me how best a child could reach its potential, I would have looked through my myopic, public health, physician’s lens, and responded that making sure children (0-5years) are healthy and well-nourished is all it takes.
However, six months into the World Bank’s “Africa Early Years” fellowship and I realize I would have been abysmally wrong.
This year, the annual Doing Business Report – by far the most anticipated and cited World Bank publication – celebrates its 15th year. Starting in 2003, the fledgling report, which covers about 130 countries, has grown into its teens garnering admiration and criticism in equal measure. Some absolutely love it, while others argue that its flaws outweigh its strong points.
Regardless, nobody can deny that the Doing Business report has been a major catalyst for reforms across the world – 3,200 reforms of business regulation have been counted to date, spurred by the Report and carried out in line with the methodology of its indicators.
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Photo: Hubert Figuière | Flickr Creative Commons
Canada has quietly become a leading player in the global PPP space. The unique Canadian version of the procurement model has evolved from an innovative idea promoted through the wisdom and passion of a few early believers and visionaries into a widely applied approach, embraced by all three levels of government and in every region of the country.
What might seem an “overnight success” has, in fact, taken 25 years of listening and learning to develop a smart, innovative, modern approach to infrastructure and service delivery using Public-Private Partnerships. It’s an approach that ensures real value for tax dollars and the efficient use of precious public resources.
The idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate: Which comes first in development—good governance OR economic growth? For decades, positions have been sharply divided between those who advocate “fix governance first” and others who say “stimulate growth first.”
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the World Bank’s efforts to help countries launch their own open data initiatives, and harness the power of open data to benefit their citizens. A new report provides insights into how open data is benefitting countries, what strategies are working well, what could be improved.
The report provides the most comprehensive snapshot of Bank-funded open data activities to date. In the last five years, the Bank has provided technical assistance and funding for open data activities in over 50 countries, conservatively estimated at more than $50 million from a variety of sources. In many cases Bank funding has leveraged support from other partners or co-sponsorship by countries and other institutions. Within the Bank, the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) has been the most significant source of funding for open data. The TFSCB has financed over 20 projects in 16 countries, as well as 6 grants for regional and global activities.
Supporting over 45 countries with national and sector-specific open data
Support for open data has taken a variety of forms. To date, 45 Open Data Readiness Assessments (ODRAs) have been completed at national and sub-national levels, which have helped raise awareness and catalyze public and private efforts to advance open data within countries. There are now sector-specific ODRA tools for business, energy, and transport. The Bank has invested in a range of open data learning and knowledge products, including data literacy courses and the Open Data Toolkit, and collaborated with its global partners to support academic research, a series of regional conferences, and open data implementation. The report also found that these initial efforts have catalyzed longer-term project investments, i.e., IBRD loans and IDA credits, with open data implementation components in at least 14 countries.
Can government policies designed to promote financial inclusion encourage people to open an account at a bank or other financial institution?
I first met Saman in the early 1990s in Delhi. Over the years, our paths diverged. When I re-engaged on South Asia, I ran into Saman again. We re-connected instantly, despite the long intervening period. This was easy to do with Saman—soft-spoken, affable, a gentleman to the core. He bore his considerable knowledge lightly.
Despite his premature passing away in June 2017, he left a rich and varied legacy behind him. I will confine myself to discussing his insights on regional cooperation in South Asia, based on his public writings and my interactions with him.
Saman was a champion of deeper economic linkages within South Asia. He was also pragmatic.
Along with a few other regional champions, Saman, as the head of the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo, helped to kick-start the “South Asian Economic Summit”, or SAES, in Colombo in 2008, to provide a high-profile forum for dialogue on topical issues, especially South Asian regional integration. It is remarkable that the SAES has endured, without any gap. The fact that the policy and academic fraternity meet with unfailing regularity, despite on-and-off political tensions in the region, is testimony to its value.
Saman repeatedly stressed that Sri Lanka has been able to reap benefits from the India-Sri Lanka FTA (ISFTA), contrary to the general belief. His arguments were powerful: the import-export ratio for Sri Lanka improved from 10.3 in 2000 (the start of the ISFTA) to 6.6 in 2015; about 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s exports to India get duty-free access under the FTA, but less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s imports from India come under the FTA (since India provided “special and differential treatment” to Sri Lanka).
The relationship between poverty and disability goes both ways:
Yet, little attention has been given to the employment readiness of persons with disabilities. This is of concern given that the employment rates of persons with disabilities are a third to half of the rates for persons without disabilities, with unemployment rates as high as 80%-90% in some countries.
[Learn more: Disability Inclusion]
Disability is a complex, evolving, and multidimensional concept. Currently, it is estimated that 15% of the world population experiences some form of disability, with prevalence rates higher in developing countries. As opportunities for sustainable income generation are directly tied to a person’s access to finance, markets, and networks, persons with disabilities usually face significant challenges in accessing these, due to:
- non-inclusive regulations and policy,
- lack of resource allocation,
- stigma and societal prejudice,
- low educational participation, and
- inability to access their own communities and city spaces.
We need to do much more to ensure that women with disabilities are mainstreamed into projects that seek to empower women as entrepreneurs and change agents.
Expanding equitable opportunities for persons with disabilities is at the core of the World Bank’s work to build sustainable and inclusive communities. So, addressing work for persons with disabilities? Here’s what we’re doing at the World Bank:
- Harkin Summit
- Social Inclusion
- Sustainable Communities
- Global Goals
- Urban Development
- Social Development
- Labor and Social Protection
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Latin America & Caribbean
- South Asia
Economic research is essential for designing and implementing evidence-based solutions to improve job opportunities. In a recent conference organized by the World Bank and IZA, researchers from around the world presented over 30 research papers on important labor topics such as migration, gender, youth employment, and labor policies in low-income countries. Here is an illustrative sample of four innovative works presented during the conference.
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.
October 11 has been marked as the International Day of the Girl by the United Nations since 2012. The aims are to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
For this year’s Day of the Girl, the #FreedomForGirls campaign was launched in partnership between Project Everyone, UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This campaign sheds further light on the United Nations’ Global Goals, which included a commitment to achieve gender equality and empowering all women and girls by 2030. The UN along with its agencies and programs, believe that none of the 17 goals can be realized without empowering the largest generation of adolescent girls the world has ever seen.