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East Asia and Pacific

World Cities Summit – A festival of ideas for an urban world

Abhas Jha's picture
Photo courtesy of Michaela Lohelt through a Creative Commons license.
Photo courtesy of Michaela Loheit through a Creative Commons license.
Here is a pop quiz – where in the world, over the course of five days, can you talk to the architects of the remarkable turnaround of the city of Medellin, have a conversation with over 100 mayors and city leaders from across the world on the future of cities, and have access to literally hundreds of companies operating at the cutting edge of urban technologies in areas like desalination, solid waste management, and urban analytics? If you answered the World Cities Summit in Singapore next week, you would be right.
 
The Summit is a biannual event that is one of the premier showcases of the state of urban development around the world. The fact that it is being hosted by Singapore – a city-state that epitomizes livability, inclusion and sustainability – is particularly fitting. The World Bank’s Infrastructure and Urban Development Hub team is proud to partner with the Center for Livable Cities in participating in several events during the World Cities Summit, such as the Mayors Forum, an ADB learning event on Cities and Middle Income Countries, and thematic sessions on culture, municipal finance, and innovation. One of the benefits of large global events such as the World Cities Summit is the opportunity to meet city leaders, counterparts, partner agencies, and colleagues from across the world to discuss ways and means on how the World Bank Group can continue to support them in their development objectives.

Supporting inclusive growth in Cambodia

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
A Cambodian farmer. photo by the World Bank
A Cambodian farmer. Photo: The World Bank

Today, Cambodia is among the world’s fastest growing economies. Its gross national income per capita increased by more than threefold in two decades, from $300 in 1994 to $1,070 in 2015.

Strong economic growth has helped lift millions of people out of poverty.

The Cambodian people have benefited as the economy diversified from subsistence farming into manufacturing, tourism and agricultural exports. Poverty fell to 10% in 2013, from 50% in 2004. Cambodians enjoy better school enrollment, literacy, life expectancy, immunization and access to water and sanitation.

What’s in a category?

Jim Anderson's picture



One year ago, Mongolia was designated an Upper Middle Income Country (UMIC) when the country’s GNI per capita crossed the threshold between lower and upper middle income countries.  Some Mongolians celebrated, seeing the designation as a reflection of how far the country had come since recovering from a prolonged slump in the 1990s.  Others wondered what it means for the availability of concessional financing in the future.  And others just wondered if it was accurate.  While Mongolia’s progress is unmistakable, we also know that 22% of the population lives below the national poverty line of roughly $2.70 per day—what does it mean to be an “upper middle income country” in the face of such a statistic?

Last week, Mongolia was re-designated a Lower Middle Income Country (LMIC).  How is this possible and what does it mean?

Here’s the evidence that low cost reading programs can have a big impact

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Photo: © Dana Smillie / World Bank


The importance of literacy for economic growth and development is already well established in economic research.  Literacy enables people to access information and improve their productivity.  I believe that literacy is crucial to the diffusion of new technologies, especially among the poor. It produces high economic returns, so much so that early literacy is viewed as a threshold for economic development.

Dealing with disasters – from Japan to the Philippines and back and around

John Roome's picture
This post by John Roome originally appeared on Huffington Post Japan on June 28, 2016.


Just consider a few simple statistics. On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of deaths, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of damages to agriculture.

Typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013, known as Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded. The country though is also highly exposed to other hazards, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

From Evidence to Impact: reaching Indonesia’s poorest through better targeting

Maura Leary's picture



Evidence and analysis, when used well, can form the foundation for effective policymaking. But what happens once an analytical report is published, and the findings are shared? In the worst case, these reports sit collecting dust on a few lucky office shelves.

In the best cases, however, smart, rigorous, and timely evidence leads to real impact for the least well off. We set out recently to find out a bit more about how this can work in practice, looking at the case of Indonesia.
Effective social assistance is crucial not only for helping people move out of poverty, but also keeping people from falling into poverty. Too often, however, well-meaning programs do not reach those who need them the most. The poor stay poor, shocks push the vulnerable into poverty, and fiscal space is wasted on programs that are not doing what they need to do.

Myanmar: How IDA can help countries reduce poverty and build shared prosperity

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
© Meriem Gray/World Bank



This week, more than fifty donor governments and representatives of borrowing member countries are gathering in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss how the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) can continue to help the world’s poorest countries.

IDA financing helps the world’s 77 poorest countries address big development issues. With IDA’s help, hundreds of millions of people have escaped poverty. This has been done through the creation of jobs, access to clean water, schools, roads, nutrition, electricity and more. During the past five years, IDA funding helped immunize 205 million children globally, provided access to better water sources for 50 million and access to health services for 413 million people.

Myanmar has set a path to a bright energy future by 2030

Alan David Lee's picture
  Hong Sar/ World Bank
Photo © :  Hong Sar/ World Bank.

Kyaw San has trouble studying at night. The student from Yangon Division’s Buu Tar Suu village finds it especially difficult during the rainy season when his old solar-powered lamps cannot be charged, forcing him to study by candlelight. 
 
Win Win Nwe, a grade 5 student, also often prepares for exams by candlelight. Her family can’t always afford to buy candles, adding another obstacle to an activity many take for granted. “If we can afford candles, we buy them. If we can’t, we don’t. We struggle and do our best,” said her father Kyi Htwe.

Today, two-thirds of Myanmar’s population is not connected to the national electricity grid and 84% of rural households lack access to electricity. No power means no light, no refrigerators, no recharging phones and batteries. Small businesses can’t stay open in the evenings, and clinics cannot refrigerate medicines. Access to reliable and affordable energy is essential for a country’s development, job creation, poverty reduction and shared prosperity goals.

Rising divide: why inequality is increasing and what needs to be done

Matthew Wai-Poi's picture
In 2014, the richest 10 per cent of Indonesian households consumed as much as the poorest 54 per cent. Image by Google Maps.




Since the 1990s, inequality has risen faster in Indonesia than in any other East Asian country apart from China. In 2002, the richest 10 per cent of households consumed as much as the poorest 42 per cent. By 2014, they consumed as much as the poorest 54 per cent. Why should we be worried about this trend? What is causing it, and how is the current administration addressing rising inequality? And what still needs to be done?

Inequality is not always bad; it can provide rewards for those who work hard and take risks. But high inequality is worrying for reasons beyond fairness. High inequality can impact economic growth, exacerbate conflict, and curb the potential of current and future generations. For example, recent research indicates that, on average, when a higher share of national income goes to the richest fifth of households, economic growth slows—whereas countries grow more quickly when the poorest two-fifths receive more.

Steak, fries and air pollution

Garo Batmanian's picture
 Guangqing Liu
Photo © : Guangqing Liu

While most people link air pollution only to burning fossil fuels, other activities such as agriculture and biomass burning also contribute to it. The complexity of air pollution can be explained by analyzing the composition of the PM2.5, one the most important air pollution indicators. 
 

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