Conflict is a major cause of poverty in the developing world today. In addition to endangering lives, conflict disrupts the functioning of an economy in many ways. It destroys infrastructure, prevents children from going to school, and closes factories. A little-studied economic impact is conflict’s tendency to restrict the mobility of goods and labor within and across borders. These restrictions are caused both by insecurity associated with the conflict and by explicit barriers that constrain the mobility of people and goods. Our recent World Bank study measures the harm such barriers have caused the economy of the West Bank by limiting mobility in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This week in Doha, the marble corridors of the Qatar National Convention Center resonate with voices from around the world. Over half way through the UN Climate Change Conference, as ministers arrive and the political stakes pick up, a sense of greater urgency in the formal negotiations is almost palpable. But in the corridors, negotiations are already leading to deals and dreams and action on the ground.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the discussions by saying we need optimism, because without optimism there are no results. He reminded us all that Superstorm Sandy was a tragic awakening. He reiterated the call for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement and 100 billion in climate finance by 2020.
Meanwhile our focus was firmly on the region ...
- Yemen, Republic of
- Western Sahara
- United Arab Emirates
- Syrian Arab Republic
- South Sudan
- Saudi Arabia
- Iran, Islamic Republic of
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Urban Development
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- food security
- Climate Change
- Ban Ki-moon
I recently visited Israel to learn about various programs and tools used to support Israel’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is well known that innovation and entrepreneurship are two pillars of the Israeli economy and a source of global leadership.
The educational visit was arranged byMATIMOP, the government agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. It included visits to incubators, technology transfer offices, research institutes, universities and the OCS. We had the opportunity to interact with both directors and beneficiaries of various support programs, and to learn about day-to-day operations, programs, management, and the role programs played in beneficiaries’ lives and businesses.
Recent events in North Africa have intensified speculations about the role of traditional mass media as well as communication technologies in shaping political events and cultures across the world. Media influence on policy, foreign or domestic, has been the subject of some research, but is not generally taken seriously in the relevant disciplines. We have discussed on this blog before that the lack of systematic research and acknowledgement of media influence on policymaking may be due to the indirect nature of this effect. Media do not necessarily influence policymakers directly, but may work through public opinion by shaping what people know and believe about foreign politics. Public opinion, embodied in predominant political views or in election results, can have considerable influence on policymakers that need approval from the electorate.
I recently had the honor of contributing a book review on media influence on foreign policymaking to the foreign policy journal IP Global Edition, published by the German Council on Foreign Relations. I discussed three relevant books: "Unreliable Sources" by John Simpson, "The Al Jazeera Effect" by Philip Seib, and Bella Mody's analysis of "The Geopolitics of Representation in Foreign News." You can find the full review here.
- United Kingdom
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Middle East and North Africa
- Europe and Central Asia
- Information and Communication Technologies
- War Reporting
- Unrealiable Sources
- The Geopolitics of Representation in Foreign News
- Public Opinion
- Philip Seib
- Media Influence
- media effects
- John Simpson
- IP Global Edition
- International Public Opinion
- German Council on Foreign Relations
- Foreign Policy
- Conflict Reporting
- Book Review
- Bella Mody
- Al Jazeera Effect
The month of February played host to the OECD – Inter-American Development Bank– World Bank’s international knowledge sharing on '1-to-1 computing' in Austria. This was the first event of its kind looking specifically at the idea that, if technology is to fundamentally help transform educational practices, this can only be done where each student has her/his own personal computing device.
1-to-1 computing is not only happening in OECD countries: every student in Uruguay has her/his own laptop. Peru and Rwanda have made massive commitments to purchase laptops for students, and pilots are underway in many additional developing countries.These interventions are based on the belief that by enabling every pupil to connect to the Internet, and to each other, to access valuable resources irrespective of place and time, countries can help to bridge the digital divide while at the same time transforming education and increasing learning through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Given the context of this event, I thought I would provide a timely survey of the existing research on their use in education. I also advise you to check out Michael Trucano’s one year old blog, Edutech which provides incisive analysis on a wide array of ICTs in Education topics.
|Futuristic water design that would provide water for food in the desert, featured in The Guardian in 2008. Photograph: Exploration Architecture.|
“What are the new developments in water? Are there new technologies that developing countries could use to bypass expensive and cumbersome systems? What’s the next big thing that could solve the water crisis?” Politicians and the media often ask experts for new ideas to make water “interesting”. Yet, on the whole, water systems constructed today use much of the same technology they did 100 years ago.
People skeptical of hearing water experts talking about water crises put their faith in the human capacity to innovate. They point to the rapid decline in costs of taking the salt out of sea water as evidence that – when we really have to – we will innovate and make sure we can meet our water needs.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Israel, one of the driest countries in the world, has invested heavily in non-conventional sources of water. Desalination currently provides around 40 percent of Israel’s municipal water supply and the plan is for this source to provide 70 percent by 2015. In March, a team from the the World Bank's WDR2010 and Middle East North Africa units visited the largest operational reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world, in Hadera.
Desalination does indeed have potential to meet the municipal water needs of many people in the world – but only those who live near the sea.
Costs have come down to about $0.55 per cubic metre, about half what it was a decade ago. How have engineers managed this? Economies of scale are important. They have also been able to save on costs by designing an efficient system within the plant and by clever energy saving technology. Will the costs come down much further? About 10% say the Israeli experts. Not more.
Israel’s very careful management of every drop of water has led to an interesting problem.
Today is World Water Day, a good time to ponder the impacts of global climate change on water availability and quality. Julia Bucknall was part of a team of experts from the WDR2010 and the World Bank's Middle East and North Africa region visiting Israel last week to learn about innovation in water. The blog below is the first in three installments.
Can high-tech agriculture help developing countries get more from their water?
Israel invented drip irrigation, a technology that has spread rapidly since its introduction in the 1960s and which is widely touted as a key way for countries to close their water gap and be more adapted to climate change. It certainly does reduce evaporative losses, is often associated with a switch to high-value crops, and reduces fertilizer use when liquid fertilizer is added to the mix and delivered precisely to the root of the plant (a process that delights in the name “fertigation”). We often see important productivity gains.
Yet it’s not as simple as that.
The One Laptop Per Child program has brought much attention to issues related to '1-to-1 computing' (each child has her/his own personal computing device). While perhaps the most prominent initiative of this sort in public consciousness, OLPC is just one of many such programs around the world. At a recent event in Vienna, the OECD, the Inter-american Development Bank and the World Bank brought together representatives from these programs, the first such face-to-face global gathering of leaders in this area to share information and insights about their experiences.
In putting together this event, it was clear that there was no consolidated list of leading '1-to-1 educational computing initiatives'. Here's a first attempt at such a list, based on participants in this event (links are meant as pointers to more related information; not all lead to the specific project sites):
Mother Teresa once said that she would never join an anti-war demonstration, but she would be the first to join a pro-peace rally. The idea behind this statement is that what you resist persists and in the act of opposing you are actually acknowledging and reaffirming the existence of whatever it is you are trying to stop. The key is to focus on the solution and not the problem. Unfortunately this fundamental principle is rarely applied to conflict zones and peace-building.