Do longer classroom hours equal good grades? Spending more time in school is a subject currently being discussed as one solution to improving students' academic performance with the ultimate goal of making countries more competitive in the global economy.
This is true for emerging and advanced economies alike.
Belo Horizonte está decidida a ser conhecida por seu compromisso com a sustentabilidade. Nos últimos anos, a iluminação pública foi trocada por um sistema mais eficiente, conduziu-se um inventário de emissão de gases causadores de efeito estufa e foram criados programas de compras públicas e construções sustentáveis. A empresa responsável pelo serviço de limpeza pública e tratamento de resíduos gera eletricidade a partir do biogás gerado no aterro sanitário. A cidade se orgulha de seus parques públicos e de sua área verde – com tamanho duas vezes maior que o recomendado pela Organização Mundial de Saúde (OMS).
Women are increasingly becoming Latin America's critical development partners. Moms, students, working professionals, women from all walks of life, are a driving force behind a gender revolution that has made huge contributions to our region's prosperity.
Over the last decade, Latin American countries have made big strides in reducing poverty and bringing down inequality. And much of that progress, we now know, can be credited to women. So much so that, had there not been so many women in the workforce, extreme poverty in the region in 2010 would have been 30 percent higher. Something similar can be said about the region's recent inroads against persistent inequality, as highlighted in Poverty and Labor Brief: The Effect of Women's Economic Power in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Costa Rica has become the crown jewel of Latin America in terms of environmental protection and its respect for biodiversity. After more than 10 years of putting “green” policies in to practice to protect its forests – which cover 51% of its land mass- the Central American country aims to be fully carbon neutral by 2021, the first to reach this global milestone.
“In the 1970s, we destroyed much of the forest and now I want to reverse the damage we’ve done to humanity,” says Virgilio, owner of a 196-hectare lot in Puriscal and participant in an innovative program that provides money to small and mid-sized property owners to encourage them to take care of their land. So far, the program has managed to protect 12% of the country’s forests.
During my visit to Costa Rica to film this video on the country’s environmental advances, I also spoke with Sandra María, a woman who manages a small inn many would pay a fortune for the opportunity to visit. “Here we don’t cut trees down 3because trees give life,” she says with the confidence of one who knows she is doing the right thing.
Diferentemente do filme Feitiço do Rio (1984), que atribuiu o romance vulgar entre um homem de meia-idade (vivido por Michael Caine) e uma adolescente às vibrações sensuais da Cidade Maravilhosa, a recente conferência Rio+20 serviu para mostrar outra cara do Rio de Janeiro: a de líder global ambiental. A cidade não só mantém as duas maiores florestas urbanas do mundo, a da Pedra Branca e a da Tijuca (na foto), mas também concluiu um moderno centro de tratamento de resíduos, que permitirá uma redução de 8% nas emissões de gases causadores de efeito estufa, e está construindo 300km de ciclovias. Para o Banco Mundial, a cidade tem sido o cenário para uma improvável melhoria nas relações entre o próprio Banco e organizações ambientais não-governamentais (ONGs) nos últimos 20 anos.
The city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, is determined to be known for its commitment to sustainability. In recent years, the municipal government has switched public lighting to a more efficient system, conducted a greenhouse gas inventory, and created programs for sustainable public purchasing and building certification. The utility responsible for public cleaning services and waste treatment generates electricity using biogas from landfills. The city prides itself on its public parks and on having twice the green area inside the municipal boundaries than is recommended by WHO guidelines. The name of the city itself means “Beautiful Horizon”. Read this post in Portuguese (Leia este post em português.)
There is no arguing that high food prices are taking a heavy toll on Latin America’s families, business and governments, fueling ripple effects on people’s budgets and the economy as a whole.
But behind the cold hard numbers of price increases, shrinking budgets and inflationary fears, the simple truth is high food prices can kill –or severely impair- people, especially kids from underprivileged environments.
Unlike the 1984 movie “Blame it on Rio”, which attributed a bawdy affair between a middle-aged man (played by Michael Cain) and a teenager on the tropical vibes of the stunningly beautiful city, the recent hosting of the Rio +20 Conference served to showcase a different face of the Rio ambience -- its global environmental leadership role. The city not only maintains the world’s two largest urban forests, Pedra Branca and Tijuca (see photo), but has just completed a state of the art waste treatment center which will allow for a 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and are installing 300 kilometers of bicycle lanes. For the World Bank, the city has been the setting for the improbable significant improvement in relations between the Bank and environmental CSOs over the past 20 years.
When Rio hosted the original UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Bank participated with a small staff delegation and its modest publications booth at the parallel NGO “Global Forum” held on Flamengo Beach was set on fire by environmental activists. They were protesting the Bank’s financing of the Narmada Dam project in India, which threatened to displace hundreds of thousands of small farmers without a fair and sustainable resettlement plan in place. Some were expressing disapproval of the Polonoroeste project funded by the Bank in Brazil where the paving of a highway linking two Amazonian state capitals led to widespread deforestation in the 1980s.
Regardless of a country’s stage of economic development, their governments make payments to, and collect payments from individuals and businesses. Financial resources are also transferred between government agencies. These flows cover a wide range of economic sectors and activities, and in most cases, the overall amount of such flows is significant – normally ranging between 15% to about 45% of the GDP.
However, only 25% of low-income countries worldwide process cash transfers and social benefits electronically and this percentage is only slightly higher for public sector salaries and pensions—and this has considerable cost implications. By going electronic, governments can save up to 75% on costs, a significant amount in an era of stretched resources.
Renewed concerns earlier in the week about the Greek bail-out plan and the possibility of a credit rating downgrade for several European economies drove borrowing costs up. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) announcement on Thursday to defend the Euro has helped ease concerns somewhat. As inflationary pressures abate and the global economy slows down, more developing countries are cutting interest rates, however, where inflationary pressures remain high, policy tightening continues. Notwithstanding the pick-up in tourism arrivals in the first four months of 2012, the recent slowdown in economic activity is likely to dampen tourism flows in the second half of 2012.
Borrowing costs for high-spread Euro Area governments rise. Renewed worries about Greece being able to reach set fiscal targets; Moody’s negative credit outlook for Germany, the Netherlands, and the European Financial Stability Mechanism; and increasing concerns related to regional finances in some countries caused bond yields to rise for Euro Area governments earlier this week. Ten-year Spanish government bond yields rose to fresh record highs at 7.621% and Italian bonds hit a 2012-high of 6.597%. Comparable yields also increased for French and even German bonds, albeit slightly. In contrast, U.S. government bonds yields touched record lows as investors sought safe haven. However, the announcement on Thursday by the ECB that it would defend the Euro has helped to push Spanish and Italian bond yields further down from earlier highs.
Interest rate cuts in developing countries continue. As inflationary pressures abate and the global economy slows down, interest rate cuts among developing countries have continued, unlike in large high-income countries where the policy space for interest rate cuts remains limited. In recent months some of the larger developing countries (Brazil, China, the Philippines, South Africa and Vietnam) have cut nominal policy rates, although real interest rates may be higher due to sharper declines in inflation. In contrast, policy tightening has occurred in developing countries where domestic factors (rapid credit growth, poor harvests, currency depreciation) are putting pressure on prices: Peru and Uruguay increased reserve ratios and Malawi increased its policy rate. Nonetheless, most developing countries continue to keep their interest rates on hold at relatively low levels, in a bid to balance the need to keep a lid on inflation and stimulate domestic demand.
The pick up in global tourist arrivals observed so far in 2012, is likely to slowdown in latter half of the year. The tourism sector remains an important source of revenue and job creation for several developing countries (accounting for up to 32% of GDP in Maldives, see chart). Data released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization shows international tourist arrivals increased by 5% in the first four months of 2012 (compared to 4.5% for same period in 2011). Among developing regions, the increase was strongest in the Middle East and North Africa, bouyed on by a strong rebound in Tunisia (48%, y/y) and Egypt (29%, y/y) – thanks to the ongoing stabilisation of the situation there. However, with the global economy slowing down, and consumer confidence weakening in major tourist-origin countries, the pace of increase in tourist flows is likely to slow down in the second half of 2012.
À medida que a atenção do mundo se volta para a Conferência Internacional sobre AIDS, realizada esta semana, em Washington D.C, vale a pena destacar o importante trabalho realizado pela América Latina e o Caribe (i) na abordagem do HIV/AIDS (i).
Nas duas últimas décadas, a região aumentou de modo significativo o nível de debate e de conscientização sobre esse tema, desenvolvendo estratégias nacionais contra o HIV/AIDS (i), integrando respostas à epidemia aos sistemas de saúde e garantindo uma conscientização quase universal sobre os fatores de risco para transmissão do HIV. Mas ainda não estamos falando o suficiente sobre sexo.
Over the past two decades the region has significantly raised the level of the conversation and awareness around the issue, developing national HIV/AIDS strategies, integrating responses to the epidemic into health systems and ensuring almost universal awareness of HIV risk factors.