Syndicate content

Europe and Central Asia

Evolving infrastructure models in the UK -- one step forward, two steps back?

Michael Walker's picture


Photo: Jonathan Meddings | Flickr Creative Commons

The United Kingdom has been a leading player in the development of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) since the inception of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the early 1990s. PFI is a structure that introduced project finance into UK public services for the first time. Under PFI, a private sector consortium builds public assets and services them over a term of 25 to 30 years in exchange for an availability payment. Successive governments have taken full advantage of the policy’s ability to leverage private finance and thus generate additional infrastructure investment, beyond typically constrained capital budgets.

An often under-reported feature of the UK’s PPP policy is the variety of approaches it takes.

Armenia’s future – imagined in drawings and words

Vigen Sargsyan's picture


As the Armenian-American writer and humanitarian William Saroyan (1908-81) once said, children are “the only race of the earth, the race of man.” Indeed, young children exude a sincerity and innocence when expressing themselves – often captured so well in their drawings and paintings. They can be extremely creative – whether at painting, drawing, music, or performance – and especially before the age of 10 to 11 years, according to tutors.
 
Therefore, as part of our broad public consultations in designing the World Bank’s upcoming Systemic Country Diagnostic for Armenia, we decided to hold a creative contest for young Armenians.
 
First, we went to Yerevan’s School No. 19 and asked fourth and fifth graders to describe for us how they envisioned their “future Armenia”. To our great delight, the kids submitted over 100 drawings for consideration by a jury composed of their tutors.

It’s no surprise that kids’ drawings are often used in psychology as a tool to measure such things as emotional intelligence, confidence, and identity. Indeed, their drawings can be candid reflections of life as they see it, incorporating their unique observations of the world around them. Each drawing, it seems, is like a snowflake – no two are alike.

Who shares in the European sharing economy?

Hernan Winkler's picture
Data on the sharing economy (Uber, Airbnb and so on) are scarce, but a recent study estimates that the revenue growth of these platforms has been dramatic. In the European Union (EU), the total revenue from the shared economy increased from around 1 billion euros in 2013 to 3.6 billion euros in 2015. While this estimate may equal just 0.2% of EU GDP, recent trends indicate a continued, rapid expansion.

This is important, as the sharing economy has the potential to bring efficiency gains and improve the welfare of many individuals in the region.

This can also generate important disruptions.

While online platforms represent a small fraction of overall incomes, the share of individuals participating in these platforms is large in many European countries. For example, roughly 1 in 3 people in France and Ireland have used a sharing economy platform, while at least 1 in 10 have in Central and Northern Europe (see figure below).

At the same time, the share of the population that has used these platforms to offer services and earn an income is also significant, reaching 10% or more in France, Latvia, and Croatia. This means that at least one out of every ten adults in these countries worked as a driver for a ride-sharing platform such as Uber, rented out a room of his or her house using a peer-to-peer rental platform such as Airbnb, or provided ICT services through an online freelancing platform such as Upwork, to name a few examples.

Confessions of an Armenian (aspirational former) smoker

Vigen Sargsyan's picture
no smoking Armenia
First confession: I am a seasoned smoker.

Next confession: I have long dreamed of adding “former” to that status. From time to time, my inner struggle reaches a crescendo, but then the momentum vanishes until the next wave of self-examination.
 
Smoking is the worst, if not the most stupid habit I have. I definitely understand that the damage caused to my health from smoking cannot be undone. I suspect my habit is a bit generational: my father was a smoker – until the doctors came up with a verdict – and the smell of smoke has been at home since my childhood. My son picked it up too, unfortunately. The only change between the generations is that my dad smoked at the table; these days we lean on the balcony.

A mixed report: How Europe and Central Asian Countries performed in PISA

Cristian Aedo's picture
 Aigul Eshtaeva / World Bank
While more ECA program countries are participating in the PISA assessment of 15-year-old students' skills, education poverty in these countries has only slightly declined since 2000. (Photo: Aigul Eshtaeva / World Bank)

Recently, the OECD released the results for PISA 2015, an international assessment that measures the skills of 15-year-old students in applying their knowledge of science, reading, and mathematics to real-life problems. There is a sense of urgency to ensure that students have solid skills amidst modest economic growth and long-term demographic decline in Europe and Central Asia (ECA).

In China, a South-South Exchange Helps Countries Yearning for Clean and Efficient Heating Learn from Each Other

Yabei zhang's picture

Places with cold climates need access to a reliable and efficient heat supply for the health of their population. But in developing countries, the majority of rural and peri-urban households do not have access to centralized heating or gas networks. Instead, they use traditional heating stoves that use solid fuels like coal, wood, and dung for heating. These stoves are often inefficient (with thermal efficiency as low as 25%-40% compared to 70% or above for efficient stoves) and emit large amounts of pollutants (e.g., CO and PM2.5), causing indoor and outdoor air pollution with negative health and environmental impacts.
 

A dream come true! Georgian nationals can now travel visa-free to most EU countries

Ana Chechelashvili's picture
 
Nadikvari Park, Georgia
Nadikvari Park autumn festivities, Kakheti region of Georgia
Photo: Leonid Mujiri / World Bank



























A huge wave of celebration engulfed Georgia recently because, on March 28th, 2017, Georgians gained visa-free travel to most EU countries. This is a significant achievement for the country, 26 years after independence was restored.

Visa-free travel is one of the most tangible benefits for every citizen of Georgia, obtained from the Association Agreement signed with the European Union in June 2014. This agreement will contribute to Georgia’s gradual economic integration into the EU Internal Market, notably through establishing a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
 

Remittances to developing countries decline for an unprecedented 2nd year in a row

Dilip Ratha's picture
We just launched the latest edition of the Migration and Development Brief and an accompanying Press Release.
 
Remittances to developing countries decreased by 2.4 percent to an estimated $429 billion in 2016. This is the second consecutive year that remittances have declined. Such a trend has not been seen in the last 30 years. Even during the global financial crisis, remittances contracted only during 2009, bouncing back in the following year.

Why we need to talk about Roma inclusion

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority group, and arguably the most discriminated-against one. Despite efforts to promote Roma inclusion over the last decades—including from the European Union institutions, governments, development organizations, and civil society organizations—a large share of the Roma remain poor, and have inadequate access to basic services.

On the road in Georgia – through past, present and future

Mercy Tembon's picture
A handmade map of Georgia




















What an experience! It started bright and early on a Thursday morning as we boarded the car in the basement of the Word Bank office in Tbilisi and set off for a two-day visit to the Imereti region in the west of Georgia.

The first stop along our route was the Gelati Monastic Complex – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which is an impressive conservation and restoration project supported through the World Bank’s Second Regional Development Project (RDP), the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and the State Municipal Development Fund of Georgia. Our contribution is to help build infrastructure around the monastic complex that will facilitate tourist access to this historical site, and by consequence help further develop the local economy.

Pages