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Small states (SST)

Education is even more important in a world that is “flat and fast”: Thomas Friedman and Education for Competitiveness

Simon Thacker's picture
Students on university campus - Shutterstock l Zurijeta

The world is fast.
The three biggest forces on the planet—globalization, Mother Nature, and Moore’s Law (the exponential growth of computing power and, so, of digitalization)—are all surging so fast at the same time that the most critical challenge for the planet now is knowing how to plan for them.

Mineral wealth for human development: The Texas way

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
A student with University of Texas at Austin Tower in the background. © qingwa/iStock


As countries look to domestic resources to help meet the ambitious development agenda laid out in 2015, there is value in looking at international experiences where mineral wealth has become a dedicated revenue stream for financing development efforts, particularly for investing in human capital (via public health or education).

The future is in her hands

Bassam Sebti's picture


She is described as having strong ideas. A spirited and energetic girl who dreams of a big future, Shams helps children and encourages them to learn and play.

But Shams is not a real child. She is a Muppet and one of the most popular fictional characters in the children’s show Iftah Ya Simisim, the Arabic version of the popular, long-running US children’s show Sesame Street, which was introduced in the Arab world in the 1980s.

Closing health gaps for women: The Botswana story

Patricio V. Marquez's picture
HPV vaccine being administered in Botswana. Photo: Ministry of Health of Botswana


​The World Bank Group’s new Gender Equality Strategy for 2016-2023, launched last week, addresses gender inclusion not just as a goal in and of itself, but one critical to development effectiveness.  

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

Developing but growing less happy: what explains this paradox in the Arab world?

Elena Ianchovichina's picture
Shutterstock l arindambanerjee

The events of the Arab Spring took the world by surprise: there were no obvious signs of an approaching storm in the Levant and the Maghreb. Objective measures—used on a regular basis—showed that economies in these parts of the Middle East and North Africa grew at a moderate pace, had low and declining rates of absolute poverty, low-to-moderate income inequality, as well as decreasing child mortality rates and increasing levels of literacy and life expectancy. 

Middle East moves from power cuts to sustainable energy and lower emissions

Charles Cormier's picture
Switched ON Lightbulb in the Shape of the World - Shutterstock l tr3gin

The agreement reached by 196 countries at Paris to collectively work to limit the growth of global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is a landmark for efforts to avert the worst impact of climate change.  At Paris, each agreed to do its part to promote sustainable energy.  Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are willing to do their share to mitigate climate change, as demonstrated by their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. 

Solomon Islanders rising up Jacob’s Ladder of opportunity

Evan Wasuka's picture



Geographically, the capital of Solomon Islands, Honiara, is a hilly city, a maze of ridges and valleys.

In front of me, concrete steps descend 30 meters down the face of a ridge, winding their way down in a gravity-defying manner; nothing else stands on the slope, it’s simply too steep.

The steps are part of a system of footpaths that link communities of thousands of people below to the main public road above.

Over the past 60 years as Honiara has developed, so too have informal settlements. These are often located at the bottom of steep valleys without basic services such as roads, water and electricity.

Big lessons on climate change from a small country

Annette Dixon's picture
Landscape of terrace fields and homes. Bhutan
Landscape of terrace fields and homes in Bhutan. Credits: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

The mountain kingdom of Bhutan may not seem an obvious place to look for lessons on addressing climate change. But on a recent visit I was impressed with how much this small country has achieved and also with its ambition. Bhutan has much to teach South Asia and the wider world. These lessons are especially relevant as the world negotiates in Paris a new pact on climate change at the International Climate Change Summit, known as COP21, which we all hope will eventually move the global economy to a low carbon and more resilient path.

The talks aimed at agreeing a way to keep global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial era levels. There is widespread agreement that going above this threshold would have serious consequences. South Asia is among the regions of the world that is likely to be most affected by climate change. We are already experiencing this. There is increasing variability of the monsoon rainfall, more heavy rainfalls such as those that caused the recent flooding in India, and an increase in the number of droughts.

A World Bank report in 2013 predicted that even if the warming climate was kept at 2 degrees then this could threaten the lives of millions of people in South Asia. The region's dense urban populations face extreme heat, flooding and diseases and millions of people could be trapped in poverty. Droughts could especially affect north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These are big problems. They may look much bigger than anything Bhutan - a very small country in a populous region - can teach South Asia and the world. But I see three lessons. Firstly, a commitment to ambitious goals will be critical to save the world from climate disaster. To stop the world from warming too much, climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by up to 70 percent by 2050. Carbon neutrality (zero emissions) must be achieved within this century.
 

How climate change contributed to the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa

Mohamed Abdallah Youness's picture
shutterstock l dinosmichail

The Climate Change conference in Paris only confirmed what we already knew—that increasingly, there’s an overlap between conventional security threats of a military nature, which are focused on nations, and unconventional security threats of an environmental, social, and humanitarian nature, which are focused on societies and individuals. Thus, the phenomenon of climate change has brought about new security threats, such as internal conflict, terrorism, and instability.

Anti-corruption: Tunisia tops transparency in military spending but still “high risk” of corruption in defense

Christine Petré's picture
Shutterstock l angelh l Tashatuvango

Defense budgets are not publicly available, oversight is weak, and information about hidden spending is non-existent, says Transparency International-UK (TI-UK) of defense spending by the 17 governments it has scrutinized in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as part of a new global report. 

Climate services - Saving lives and livelihoods

Mafalda Duarte's picture
Copyright: Conect4Climate/World Bank

Climate change is affecting us all, but its impacts are hitting the poorest and those in poor countries hardest. That means developing countries vulnerable to sudden and slow-onset impacts of climate change need reliable and accurate weather and climate data and information to help them know when and how to protect their economies and communities.

We must prepare now for another major El Niño

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
El Niño is back and may be stronger than ever.
 
A wooden boat is seen stranded on the dry cracked riverbed of the Dawuhan Dam during drought season in Madiun, Indonesia's East Java province.  October 28, 2015 © ANTARA FOTO/Reuters/Corbis



The latest cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, first observed centuries ago and formally tracked since 1950, began earlier this year and already has been felt across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather experts predict this El Niño will continue into the spring of 2016 and could wreak havoc, because climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity of storms and flooding in some places and of severe drought and water shortages in others.

El Niño’s impacts are global, with heavy rain and severe flooding expected in South America and scorching weather and drought conditions likely in the Horn of Africa region.

Why is #COP21 important for the Middle East and North Africa region?

Maria Sarraf's picture
Cairo - Yeul l World Bank

Over 25,000 people have descended on the Bourget in the suburbs of Paris to attend the much anticipated 21st Conference of Parties on climate change, or “COP21”. The first meeting today is due to be attended by 120 heads of state including 11 from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But what is the convention about, really? 

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