Big Data. Blockchain. Drones. E-Wallets. Artificial Intelligence. These are words that one would expect to hear at the latest conference in Silicon Valley, not during a discussion of Indonesia’s affordable housing challenges. Yet they were buzzing through the captive crowd in Jakarta at the Disruptive Technologies Workshop for Affordable Housing on September 17, 2018. The event, hosted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing with support from the World Bank’s National Affordable Housing Program (NAHP), was attended by 150 participants from local public agencies, developers, lenders, and community organizations. The workshop’s goal was to explore one big question: How might Indonesia harness the power of disruptive technologies to transform its housing ecosystem?
At the World Bank Group (WBG)-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings earlier this month in Bali, Indonesia, WBG President Dr. Jim Kim posed a critical question: “What will it take to promote economic growth and help lift people out of poverty everywhere in the world…How will they reach their ambitions in an increasingly complex world?”
Almost daily, headlines in the world’s leading newspapers are full of examples of public sector failures: public money is mismanaged or outright misused; civil servants are not motivated or are poorly trained; government agencies fail to coordinate with each other; and as a result, citizens are either deprived of quality public services, or must go through a bureaucratic maze to access them.
The purpose of any education system is to equip learners with the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. Currently, East Asia is home to seven of the top ten education systems in the world. Despite impressive achievements, these above-average performing systems are not resting on their accomplishments—they continue to deepen the quality of education, tying learning to new and emerging needs. Central to the region’s curriculum reform is a focus on teaching and measuring 21st century skills.
Seventeen years ago, Indonesia embarked on its so-called big bang decentralization. Almost overnight, responsibility to deliver many public services was transferred to local governments. This was done, in part, with the hope that the decentralization would make local government more agile and responsive to issues facing local communities. However, results have yet to materialize in many locations.
In my view, a key factor driving poor results is the central government’s approach to regulating local governments. In a decentralized environment, the central government has a legitimate role as a regulator to standardize service delivery or financial management procedures. However, in practice, they have been more focused on controlling inputs and processes, with little attention to accountability for results. This approach results in the proliferation of regulatory constraints and a fearful bureaucracy that make it difficult for local leaders to respond to citizen’s problems.
Imagine that you live near one of 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia, threatened by the next eruption that could endanger your family. Imagine that your house stands in one of the most seismically-active zones in the world, or that your family lives in one of the 317 districts with high risks of flooding. This is a reality that at least 110 million Indonesians already face, and more could be affected due to the impacts of urbanization, climate change and land subsidence.
The country is known as having a ‘supermarket’ of disaster hazards. Over the past twenty years alone, the Indonesian government recorded over 24,000 disaster events that caused 190,500 fatalities, displaced almost 37 million people, and damaged over 4.3 million houses. The combined losses of these disasters totaled almost $28 billion, or around 0.3% of national GDP annually.
It is an unfortunate but fact of life that Indonesia often deals with the impacts of natural disasters. It was sadly evident again this week when I arrived in Jakarta to the unfolding disaster caused by the earthquake in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. My condolences go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
While scientists are reluctant to say a specific natural disaster is caused by climate change, they say a changing climate is resulting in more extreme events around the world. That’s why at International Finance Corporation (IFC), the largest global organization working with the private sector in emerging markets, finding new avenues for climate financing is a key priority.
Green bonds offer a pathway. The world is witnessing a rapid growth in green bonds, dramatically increasing the flow of capital to green projects and bringing new financiers into the climate smart investment space.
While disasters threaten the well-being of people from all walks of life, few are as disproportionately affected as the over one billion people around the world who live with disabilities. Following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, for example, the fatality rate for persons with disabilities was up to four times higher than that of the general population.
Persons with disabilities are especially vulnerable when disaster strikes not only due to aspects of their disabilities, but also because they are more likely, on average, to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, including higher poverty rates. Disasters and poorly planned disaster response and recovery efforts can exacerbate these disparities, leaving persons with disabilities struggling to cope even more both during and after the emergency.