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In the line of fire: lessons from a California architect on rebuilding resiliently

Sunny Kaplan's picture


Photo: Tony Salas | Flickr Creative Commons

In my home state of California in the United States, major drought-fueled wildfires tore across the state in the latter half of 2017 setting records for both the state’s deadliest fire, as well as the largest fire. Wildfire season is back in 2018 with the most destructive year ever—currently more than 13,000 firefighters are battling 9 large blazes that have damaged or destroyed over 2,000 homes or buildings and scorched over 730,000 acres of land.
 
The Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California recently broke the state’s previous record for largest fire, spreading furiously due to heat, wind, and years of drought. 

California’s Governor Jerry Brown said this is becoming the new normal…where fires threaten people’s lives, property, neighborhoods and, of course, billions and billions of dollars. Many point to climate change as the driver for weather conditions fueling most of the wildfires. July was the hottest on record for the state, and extreme weather is causing larger and more destructive fires across the whole western United States.

Under this “new normal” how do designers and city planners even begin to rebuild quality infrastructure affordably, resiliently, and sustainably?

From spreadsheets to suptech for financial sector market conduct supervision

Douglas Randall's picture

From Spreadsheets to Suptech for Financial Sector Market Conduct Supervision

Market conduct supervisors in the financial sector have a tough job. And it’s getting tougher.  

Their core work involves collecting data from disparate sources and undertaking complex analyses to identify and assess risks. They must also determine compliance with rules that are often principles-based. For example, what do complaints data, consumer agreements and marketing materials indicate about whether a financial service provider is treating its customers fairly?

The future of public procurement in the era of digitalization

Yolanda Tayler's picture
Photo: World Bank

Why digitize public procurement?

Many countries have an opportunity to digitally transform public procurement systems to achieve enhanced efficiency, accountability, transparency, and participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Digitally transforming public procurement would also accelerate national development objectives, such as enhancing public service delivery, developing human capital and the private sector, and gender empowerment.

Impacts on Global Trade and Income of Current Trade Disputes

Caroline Freund's picture

Much has been written on the escalation of the trade dispute. What hasn’t been discussed is what will be the impact on developing nations who rely on trade as an engine of economic growth for ending poverty.  

As tariffs are beginning to be imposed, my team analyzed the impact of these new tariffs and the potential for tariff escalation in developing countries in a new World Bank working document. We found that the new trade tariffs will depress bilateral trade, disrupt global supply chains, and increase demand for substitutes from developing countries.  
 

Photo Source: Avigator Fortuner, Shutterstock

The miracle of mangroves for coastal protection in numbers

Michael W. Beck's picture
© Ursula Meissner/The Nature Conservancy
© Ursula Meissner/The Nature Conservancy

The North Atlantic hurricane season officially opens June 1, and there are predictions that storms this year could be worse than average again. That would be bad since last year was the costliest year on record for coastal storms. Communities and countries across the Caribbean and SE USA were particularly hard hit. The need for resilient solutions to reduce these risks is paramount.

There has been growing though largely anecdotal evidence that mangroves and other coastal habitats can play important roles in defending coastlines. Nonetheless it has been difficult to convince most governments and businesses (e.g., insurance, hotels) to invest in these natural defenses in the absence of rigorous valuations of these benefits.

So in 2016 The Nature Conservancy teamed with the World Bank and scientists from the public, private and academic sectors to identify how to rigorously value the flood protection benefits from coastal habitats. In short, we recommended that we value this ecosystem service by adopting tools and from the engineering, risk and insurance sectors and following an Expected Damage Function (EDF) approach. This approach assesses the difference in flooding and flood damages with and without coastal habitats such as mangroves across the entire storm frequency distribution (e.g., 1-in-10, -25 and -100 year storms).

U.S. market access generated jobs in manufacturing and services and reduced income inequality in Vietnam

Ha Minh Nguyen's picture

Amid the recent rise of populism and protectionism, the labor market implications of trade have increasingly moved to the center of political and economic debates. Autor et al (2013), in an influential paper, find that U.S. regions that are more exposed to import-competing manufacturing industries witnessed larger declines in manufacturing employment and wages. 

A school is not a factory: Why teacher specialization in early grades may not work

David Evans's picture


In chapter 1 of book 1 of Adam Smith’s foundational economics book, The Wealth of Nations, he explains the concept of the division of labor. He uses the example of a pin factory.
 
    To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of a pin-maker: a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade, nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty.

How to attract and motivate passionate public service providers

David Evans's picture

In Gaile Parkin's novel Baking Cakes in Kigali, two women living in Kigali, Rwanda – Angel and Sophie – argue over the salary paid to a development worker: "Perhaps these big organisations needed to pay big salaries if they wanted to attract the right kind of people; but Sophie had said that they were the wrong kind of people if they would not do the work for less. Ultimately they had concluded that the desire to make the world a better place was not something that belonged in a person's pocket. No, it belonged in a person's heart."
 
It's not a leap to believe – like Angel and Sophie – that teachers should want to help students learn, health workers who want help people heal, and other workers in service delivery should want to deliver that service. But how do you attract and motivate those passionate public servants? Here is some recent research that sheds light on the topic.
 

Schools are teaching 10 million girls to code; gender equality is a real possibility

Hadi Partovi's picture
Also available in: Français 
Editor's note: This is a guest blog by Hadi Partovi, tech entrepreneur and investor, and CEO of the education non-profit Code.org.
In the last few years, schools globally have made real strides towards gender equality in computer science.
In the last few years, schools globally have made real strides towards gender equality in computer science.  (Photo: Code.org)


Today, for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we celebrate the progress made towards reducing the gender gap in computer science, and we urge schools worldwide to help balance the scales in this critical 21st century subject.
 

Latin America: Is better technical and technological higher education the answer?

Diego Angel-Urdinola's picture
 
A new World Bank study finds that some Chilean technicians with a two-year degree have education returns that are only slightly lower than those of professionals. (Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)



Two years ago, 23-year-old Pedro Flores became a technician specializing in renewable energy—all thanks to a degree from a technical institute in Maule, located in one of Chile’s poorest regions. After completing his degree in just two years, Flores became the only person in his family to obtain an advanced degree. Today, he lives in Santiago and works for a private solar energy multinational corporation, where he earns a competitive salary that is only slightly below the average for entry-level professionals in his field, most of whom spent over five years in university.


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