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Fossil fuel subsidy reform: An idea whose time has come

Marianne Fay's picture
spring meetings 2015


Fossil fuel subsidies are bad economic policy, bad social policy and bad for the environment. Yet, many countries have some type of fossil fuel subsidy. In 2013, those subsidies added up to nearly $550 billion.

Why are so many countries spending so much on what is simply bad policy? And how can they reform these subsidies? This is what a panel of government ministers who have implemented reforms debated during the IMF/World Bank Group Spring Meetings in an event organized by ESMAP and co-hosted by the World Bank Group, the United States, and Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform.

The panelists – representing countries as different as Angola, Egypt, Honduras, and Ukraine – described the countries’ varied experiences, but out of these varied experiences, four common messages emerged:

Building on Central America’s Strengths

Oscar Calvo's picture



Soon will be January 1, 2015. Most of us will make New Year’s resolutions and most of us will fail to keep them. Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. But it turns out that we are much more likely to make good on our resolutions if we decide to build upon our strengths rather than focus on fixing what’s wrong. This insight is all the more important if we combine it with the intriguing view that it is the depth of our strengths, not the absence of weaknesses, which makes us successful. People are successful not because they are perfect but because they have deep strengths. What if this was also the case for countries?

With this in mind I turn my attention to some of the strengths of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, three countries that have recently put together their Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle.” The Plan is in part a response to the well-known security challenges facing those countries and the challenges posed by the surge in unaccompanied migrant children but it is also an opportunity to focus on the strengths of the Northern Triangle of Central America and how to develop them even further. And when one goes beyond the headlines one discovers a variety of success stories.

Thoughts on Resilience: Action versus Definition

Marc Sadler's picture
Photo by F. Fiondella (IRI/CCAFS) via Flickr CCA new word has entered the running for buzzword of the moment: “Resilience” seems to appear on every other page and is lauded at events as the focus for all. Indeed, academics, institutions and organizations seem to be racing to define the term, which will most likely end in confusion and competing definitions.

However, the reality of the concept is extremely straightforward. Resilience equals the ability of people, communities, governments and systems to withstand the impacts of negative events and to continue to grow despite them. Or maybe that is simply the definition I use.

Whatever the definition, what we can agree on is the need for action. It has always been challenging to convince people to invest in things that are preventative—quite simply, demonstrating impact requires proving a negative most of the time. However, with the apparent increase in frequency and severity of negative events, political and commercial willingness to take prevention, avoidance and risk management seriously is increasing.

Who speaks for public media in Latin America?

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Latin America has a long, fractured, and ultimately failed history of public media. So-called “public media” typically functioned as government-controlled institutions for spurious goals - propaganda and clientelism - rather than quality content in the service of multiple public interests. 

At the Heart of the Matter: Improved Market Access to Food Supplies

Bill Gain's picture
Hi-Las workers weighing and sizing mangoes. Source -

At the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali on December 2013, all WTO members reached an agreement on trade facilitation and a compromise on food security issues, a contentious topic which had previously stalled talks during the 2008 Doha Development Round. The “Bali Package,” as it came to be known, was quickly heralded as an important milestone, reaffirming the legitimacy of multilateral trade negotiations while simultaneously recognizing the significant development benefits of reducing the time and costs to trade.

Seven months after the Bali Ministerial Conference, however, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has yet to be ratified as India is concerned that insufficient attention has been given to the issue of food subsidies and the stockpiling of grains. India maintains that agreements on the food security issue must be in concert with the TFA.
 
Despite the current impasse in implementing the Bali decisions, the food security concern at the heart of the matter sheds light on the importance of improving the agribusiness supply chains of developing countries to ensure maximum efficiencies. Consider the fact that in 2014, farmers will produce approximately 2.5 billion tons of food. Yet, 1.3 billion tons are lost or wasted each year between farm and fork, while 805 million people suffer from chronic hunger.

Communities stand up to gender-based violence in Honduras and Guatemala

Jennifer McCleary-Sills's picture



“Despite all the work that we have been doing, the number of women reporting domestic violence cases has been increasing,” one of the participants in a workshop of the Safer Municipalities project said, expressing his frustration.  The Safer Municipalities project is an initiative of the Government of Honduras aimed at preventing violence nationwide.  He added, “There must be something missing in the services and referral system we offer for domestic violence in the Municipal Office for Women.”

As the facilitators of the workshop discussion, we replied that quite the opposite was true:  an increase in the reporting of domestic violence cases is a positive sign that there is growing confidence in local institutions and a result of the Municipal Office’s efforts.  The challenge, we explained, is to address the causes of violence to better support prevention efforts and improve services and response systems.
 

Working in Urban Water? IBNET Can Help.

Alexander Danilenko's picture

If you are working on an urban water project, what information do you need?  You likely want to know what your project’s water utility knows. How else can you start talking to each other to have a productive discussion, using the same language and standards?

In Central America, the youth take action against a future of violence

Jessica Gallegos's picture
YAV-meeting

"I became tired of loosing my friends to violent acts involving firearms, and seeing how the young the potential of my generation is lost in prisons and cemeteries." These are the words of Angel Bolivar Araya Castillo, the Coordinator of Youth Against Violence (YAV) Movement in Costa Rica. I had the privilege of meeting Angel this spring when he and six youth representatives from the YAV movement came to the World Bank to talk about the importance of youth participation in violence prevention.

Low Growth as a Threat to Latin America’s Social Gains

Augusto de la Torre's picture

For almost a decade, the large emerging market economies, including several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), have been regarded by analysts and investors as new engines of growth. The enthusiasm was further sparked when, after a short pause in 2009, emerging economies actually led the economic recovery in the world. A new story line seemed to dominate, that emerging market economies had finally arrived.


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