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Europe and Central Asia

The Russian economy inches forward

Apurva Sanghi's picture

During the four months that I have been based in Moscow, one truism about Russia has stood out for me: There is a hunger to know what “truly” goes on in the world’s largest country (by area) and its economy. So any report we publish on Russia gets a lot of attention, and our latest Russia Economic Report is no exception. While we analyzed and discussed many economic issues, here are three noteworthy ones.

Improving fairness, opportunity and empowerment: A view from the South Caucasus

Genevieve Boyreau's picture
I was quite intrigued by the findings of the latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, with its special focus on "Polarization and Populism". As Program Leader for the South Caucasus region, covering Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, I was particularly interested in the fact that these three countries report the highest levels of life and job dissatisfaction, despite declining disparities and overall income improvement in the region (in Georgia, for instance). Indeed, using the World Bank’s "twin goal” metrics, the South Caucasus region has been performing reasonably well.

Metropolitan development is central to Romania’s economic development

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
Metropolitan development is important for Romania’s growth. An analysis prepared by the World Bank for the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MRDPA) indicates that Romania’s eight largest metropolitan areas (Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara) concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues in the country.

Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of a country, and if these engines do not work well, neither does the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, in Romania, these engines do not function properly, highlights another World Bank analysis prepared for MRDPA. There are only a few cities that have a functional metropolitan public transport system (e.g. Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca), few cities that have prepared spatial plans for the metropolitan area (e.g. Brăila, Brașov, Craiova), and even fewer that have managed to implement projects at the metropolitan level (e.g. Constanța).

What are some of the challenges facing metropolitan areas in Romania?

First-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Transport: What is at stake?

Nancy Vandycke's picture

On November 26, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon will convene the first-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. What is at stake in this capstone two-day event? What fresh developments might it yield, and how might it change the dynamics for transport?
 
The new transport agenda. A number of earlier high-level events—including the UN Climate Action Summit, the OECD/International Transport Forum, and the Habitat III Conference—helped give a long-needed boost to the visibility of transport in the international arena in 2016. The events also helped position transport within the current set of global commitments that include the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, the Decade of Action on Road Safety, and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda. The forthcoming Ashgabat event will put front and center one simple notion: for the next 15 years, the transport agenda will be framed by that set of global commitments. The commitments define the space within which governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society will have to act on transport. And they will dictate the future size and direction of transport funding.
 
This is a paradigm shift. Previously, the transport agenda was defined by the goal of providing access to transport infrastructure. Under the new framework, the international community has committed itself to much more. First, the issue is no longer simply access but equitable access for all. Second, other, equally important objectives have been added, including the efficiency and reliability of mobility services, transport safety, and decarbonization. In sum, the internationally accepted transport agenda concerns more than economic and social development; it is also about being part of the climate change solution.

How to climb the Open Data maturity ladder: lessons from Europe

David Mariano's picture

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Jorn Berends and Wendy Carrara on behalf of the European Data Portal. The indicator “Open Data readiness” mentioned in the analysis below is unrelated to the Open Data Readiness Assessment tool developed by the World Bank.

The majority of European countries are improving their Open Data maturity

Open Data is taking off in Europe. Open Data – which refers to publicly available data that is free for all to use – is set to have a monumental impact on societies in the upcoming years, and has a potential market size for the European Union of 75.7 bn EUR by 2020. European countries seem to be on track to reap the potential of Open Data, although a lot of work remains to be done and substantial differences persist between countries. In 2016, with a 28.6% increase compared to 2015, the EU28 and Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – referred to as EU28+ –  completed over 55% of their Open Data journey. This shows that, by 2016, a majority of the EU28+ countries have successfully developed a basic approach to address Open Data. This is just one of the conclusions of the 2016 Open Data Maturity in Europe report, prepared by the European Data Portal. What can this report tell us on the countries that are doing particularly well in this regard, what is it that makes them European champions? Furthermore, what can other countries learn from them?

Spain and France are leading the way in Europe, but substantial differences persist

The measurement is built on two key indicators ‘Open Data Readiness’ and ‘Portal Maturity’, thereby covering the level of development of national activities promoting Open Data as well as the level of development of the country’s national data portal. Based on these indicators, the European countries are clustered into four different levels of Open Data maturity: Beginners, Followers, Fast Trackers and Trend Setters.

 

Positive competition drives better performance

Georgia Harley's picture
We all know that people respond to incentives.
 
Even in the public sector – where pay and conditions are often fixed – there is a growing body of research demonstrating how public sector institutions can systematically motivate their staff to perform better.  (If you’re interested, see a sampling here, here, here, and here and of course the World Development Report: Mind, Society and Behavior.) 

People’s living standards – do numbers tell the whole story?

Giorgia DeMarchi's picture
Numbers don’t lie. That’s why, in our day-to-day lives, we rely heavily on numbers from household surveys, from national accounts, and from other traditional sources to describe the world around us: to calculate, to compare, to measure, to understand economic and social trends in the countries where we work.

But do we perhaps rely too much on numbers to gain an understanding of people’s lives and the societies in which they live? Do numbers really tell us the whole story, or give us the full picture?


 

Proud to celebrate 25 years of partnership for a more prosperous and equal Romania

Elisabetta Capannelli's picture


In 1991, the World Bank Group opened its resident office in Bucharest and this November we will celebrate 25 years of continued presence in Romania. Romania joined the World Bank in 1972, yet it is really 1991 that marks the opening of the institution’s presence in Romania and our new role in a free and democratic nation. 

A quarter century is the measure of a generation and it is as an important milestone for an institution, as it is for a human being. Our presence in Romania has matured together with the country’s first generation of people born in a free economy and society. The challenges they faced, where the face of our support for change. 

Chart: How Does Extreme Poverty Vary By Region?

Tariq Khokhar's picture


Most of the world's extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While over 1 in 10 people live in extreme poverty globally, in Sub-Saharan Africa, that figure is 4 in 10, representing 389 million people - that's more poor people than all other regions combined. Read more in the new report on Poverty and Shared Prosperity
 

What is the impact of rural transformations on women farmers?

Vanya Slavchevska's picture

Rural areas are changing rapidly, but the shift does not affect women and men in the same way.

In the process of rural development and transformation, as employment for both women and men expands in other sectors, employment in the agricultural sector is expected to shrink. Yet delving through available data and the literature, we find that the reality isn’t quite that simple. In a great number of developing countries, as men move out of family farming, women tend to stay--or move out of the sector a lot more slowly. Many women even take on new jobs and responsibilities in agriculture. We call this phenomenon the ‘feminization’ of agriculture.


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