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April 2018

Incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into fixed income investment

Joaquim Levy's picture
© Maria Fleischmann/World Bank
© Maria Fleischmann/World Bank


Sustainable investments –including socially responsible investing (SRI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing – are gaining a foothold in mainstream financial markets. Asset owners and financial intermediaries increasingly seek to finance development that meets present needs without harming future generations. World Bank Group President Jim Kim has emphasized that our organization is well positioned to help institutional investors play a bigger role.

Globally, sustainable investments grew by a quarter over the last two years, to $23 trillion, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.  This is around one-quarter of professionally managed assets globally.
The focus of ESG investing has been on equity markets – given its roots in corporate governance and engagement, and with information most readily available on listed companies. 

GiveDirectly Three-Year Impacts, Explained by the Authors

This is a guest post by Johannes Haushofer and Jeremy Shapiro

[Update: 11:00 AM on 4/23/2018. Upon the request of the guest bloggers, this post has been updated to include GiveDirectly's updated blog post, published on their website on 4/20/2018, within the text of their post rather than within Özler’s response that follows.]

We’re glad our paper evaluating the long-term impacts of cash transfers has been discussed by GiveDirectly (the source of the transfers) itself and Berk Özler at the World Bank, among others (GiveDirectly has since updated their take on our paper). Given the different perspectives put forth, we wanted to share a few clarifications and our view of the big picture implications.

What’s the latest research on the quality of governance?

Daniel Rogger's picture
Photo: Gerhard Jörén / World Bank

Editor's note: This blog post was previously published on the World Bank's 'Let's Talk Development' blog platform.

Last week I attended Stanford University’s Quality of Governance conference, expertly organized by a rising star of the field, Saad Gulzar.  I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of Dave Evans and others and summarize the findings of the papers presented. They provide a sketch of the frontier of research on state capacity. 

Weekly links April 20: Swifter justice, swifter coding, better ethics, cash transfers, and more

David Evans's picture
 
  • From the DIME Analytics Weekly newsletter (which I recommend subscribing to): applyCodebook – One of the biggest time-wasters for research assistants is typing "rename", "recode", "label var", and so on to get a dataset in shape. Even worse is reading through it all later and figuring out what's been done. Freshly released on the World Bank Stata GitHub thanks to the DIME Analytics team is applyCodebook, a utility that reads an .xlsx "codebook" file and applies all the renames, recodes, variable labels, and value labels you need in one go. It takes one line in Stata to use, and all the edits are reviewable variable-by-variable in Excel. If you haven't visited the GitHub repo before, don't forget to browse all the utilities on offer and feel free to fork and submit your own on the dev branch. Happy coding! 

  • Is it possible to speed up a justice system? On the Let's Talk Development blog, Kondylis and Corthay document a reform in Senegal that gave judges tools to speed up decisions, to positive effect. The evaluation then led to further legal reform.  

  • "Reviewing thousands of evaluation studies over the years has also given us a profound appreciation of how challenging it is to find interventions...that produce a real improvement in people’s lives." Over at Straight Talk on Evidence, the team highlights the challenge of finding impacts at scale, nodding to Rossi's iron law of evaluation ("The expected value of any net impact assessment of any large scale social program is zero") and the "stainless steel law of evaluation" ("the more technically rigorous the net impact assessment, the more likely are its results to be zero – or no effect"). They give evidence across fields – business, medicine, education, and training. They offer a proposed solution in another post, and Chris Blattman offers a critique in a Twitter thread.  

  • Kate Cronin-Furman and Milli Lake discuss ethical issues in doing fieldwork in fragile and violent conflicts

  • "What’s the latest research on the quality of governance?" Dan Rogger gives a quick round-up of research presented at a recent conference at Stanford University.  

  • In public procurement, lower transaction costs aren't always better. Over at VoxDev, Ferenc Szucs writes about what procurement records in Hungary teach about open auctions versus discretion. In short, discretion means lower transaction costs, more corruption, higher prices, and inefficient allocation. 

  • Justin Sandefur seeks to give a non-technical explanation of the recent discussion of longer term benefits of cash transfers in Kenya (1. Cash transfers cure poverty. 2. Side effects vary. 3. Symptoms may return when treatment stops.) This is at least partially in response to Berk Özler's dual posts, here and here. Özler adds some additional discussion in this Twitter thread.  

Community involvement can help end GBV in Kenya

Janes Amondi Owuor's picture



Gender-based violence (GBV) has largely been understood as the act of violence against women. Hence society forgets that men also suffer the same way that women do, or even worse.

It wasn’t until I began to share my own story of survival that I realized how vulnerable men were to GBV. Two years ago, I was raped and I conceived a child as a result. I was 19-years-old at the time, but since the incident, I have written and spoken extensively about the aftermath of my rape. I cannot say that I don't think about my rape on a regular basis, instead it has just become a part of my primordial goo that courses through my veins and makes me who I am.

Equity Is a Must on the Road to Universal Health Coverage

Caroline Ly's picture



Many countries around the world are working to ensure that all people can access the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Countries have committed to reaching universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

What’s the latest research on the quality of governance?

Daniel Rogger's picture

Last week I attended Stanford University’s Quality of Governance conference, expertly organized by a rising star of the field, Saad Gulzar.  I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of Dave Evans and others and summarize the findings of the papers presented. They provide a sketch of the frontier of research on state capacity. 

Managing climate risks in South Asia: A “bottom up” approach

Poonam Pillai's picture
Surma river between Bangladesh and India
The Surma River that flows between Bangladesh and India. Photo Credit: Poonam Pillai

Being from Kolkata, I have always been used to floods. Prolonged flooding typically meant schools and offices closed, traffic jams and a much-needed respite from the tropical summer heat. However, it was during a field visit to the flood prone northeastern border of Bangladesh, where rivers from India flow downstream into Bangladesh, that I fully appreciated the importance of disaster early warning systems and regional collaboration in saving lives, property, enabling communities to evacuate and prepare for extreme weather events.

Disaster early warning systems, along with other information services based on weather, water and climate data (sometimes known as “hydromet” or “climate services”) play a key role in disaster preparedness and improving the productivity and performance of climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture.  Along with investments in resilient infrastructure, risk financing strategies and capacity building measures, they are a key part of a toolkit for strengthening disaster and climate resilience.  Research shows that for every dollar spent on disaster early warning systems, the benefits range from $2-10.  In South Asia, these are particularly important given the region’s extreme vulnerability to climate risks and staggering socio-economic costs arising from extreme weather events.

Mind the gap: How bringing together cities and private investors can close the funding gap for urban resilience

Marc Forni's picture

Image: World Bank

By 2050, two-thirds of all people will live in cities. Each year, 72.8 million more people live in urban areas. That’s the equivalent of a new San Diego appearing every week.
 
But fast growth, and a high concentration of people and assets, makes cities vulnerable to climate change and disasters. By 2030, climate change alone could force up to 77 million urban residents into poverty.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2018 and continue the fight against climate change, cities are striving to become more sustainable, investing in ways to reduce their vulnerability to disasters and climate change. Achieving resilience is the goal – and the good news is that cities aren’t alone on the team.

A new approach to implementation of recovery and peace building assessments

Asbjorn Wee's picture



It is often in the wake of conflict and political crises that nations face their greatest challenge – the road to recovery. It is in these tenuous moments, where countries wish to look forward and emerge anew that they often need the most help. Over the years, it has been the World Bank Group’s purview to provide such support, coordinating a common platform for government and international efforts towards recovery and peacebuilding. This work often begins with a needs assessment, known as a Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPBA), a joint approach of the United Nations (UN), European Union (UN) and the World Bank (WB) to help countries identify and prioritize recovery and peace building activities. This is done by focusing on the conflict and security situation and a thorough understanding of the social, political and economic drivers of the crisis.


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