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Europe and Central Asia

Belarus: Achieving high-income is not possible without completing the transition to a market economy

Ivailo Izvorski's picture


Belarus is undergoing two transitions. The first is the transition to high income. This is a feat that has been accomplished by only about two dozen counties since the 1950s, half of which have done so during the last twenty-five years. The second is the transition to a market economy. Completing the first transition will be impossible without achieving the second one. And here is why...

Social protection challenges in an urbanizing world - part 2

Mohamad Al-Arief's picture
With 54 percent of the world’s population now living in urban areas, central and local governments around the globe are faced with both opportunities and challenges. This week, policymakers from 75 countries are gathering in Beijing for the 2015 South-South Learning Forum to discuss social protection challenges in an urbanizing world. These senior officials share their view on how this Forum provides an opportunity to extract lessons, learn from the emerging knowledge and capture practical innovations on meeting these challenges. 

Is Moldova on the road to energy sector viability?

Elina Kaarina Hokkanen's picture
Moldova Power Lines

The reliable and affordable supply of electricity and heating is an issue of major concern for Moldovan citizens, businesses and policy-makers. The viability and sustainability of the country’s energy sector rests on Moldova’s ability to diversify supply options and put in place the right tariff structures that would encourage investments in the energy sector. Currently, 98 percent of the energy resources consumed are imported, with over 80 percent of electricity and all natural gas coming from single sources.

To support the country’s energy sector development, the World Bank recently completed a study on electricity and heat tariffs in Moldova. The study shows the projected range of tariff increases, how much more different kinds of households would have to pay, how Ajutor Social program and the Heating Allowance could protect vulnerable people and how much those social payments would cost. 

The magic of education in Finland

Barbara Bruns's picture
Photo Credit: Barbara Bruns / World Bank

Anyone working in education is familiar with the story of Finland’s remarkable evolution into one of the world’s top-performing education systems. The country ranked fifth in science and sixth in reading on the 2012 PISA assessment, second on the 2012 PIAAC (the new OECD test of adult literacy) , and is routinely in the top five of practically every other international measure of education quality.  To visitors from standards-and-accountability-heavy countries such as the UK and the US, or from low-performing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Finland’s formula can seem like magic.   All teachers have a Master’s degree. There is no student testing. There are no school inspections or rankings. Students have little homework and teachers work few hours. Teachers are trusted professionals with full autonomy in the classroom.               

My study tour to Finland in September 2015 convinced me that this formula is indeed magic.  Why?  Because the popular version of the “Finnish story” neglects elements of the institutional context that are so hard-wired into the system that the locals hardly register them.  Three crucial elements, in particular, create an accountability framework that makes it possible for the “magic” to work. 

How can Russia grow out of recession?

Birgit Hansl's picture

Russia’s economic woes continue: the recession deepened in the first half of 2015, severely impacting households, while the economy continued to adjust to the 2014 terms-of-trade shock, which saw oil prices being halved within a few months. In addition, investment demand has contracted for a third consecutive year.

Economic policy uncertainty, arising from an unpredictable geopolitical situation and the ongoing sanctions, caused private investment to decline rapidly as capital costs rose and consumer demand evaporated.

The record drop in consumer demand was driven by a sharp contraction in real wages, which fell by an average of 8.5% in the first six months of 2015 - illustrating the severity of the recession. The erosion of real incomes significantly increased the poverty rate and exacerbated the vulnerability of households in the lower 40% of the income distribution.

So, if oil prices remain low, how can Russia grow out of its recession?

Getting the water sector in the Western Balkans ready for EU membership

Angelika Heider's picture
The Vodovod Slavonski Brod, an
​EU-financed wastewater treatment plant in Croatia.
Photo credit: World Bank Croatia

​It would be my first time in Croatia, so naturally I was excited to be part of the team that organized a Danube Water Program workshop on EU Cross Support in the Water Sector in Zagreb September 28-29.

Initially, the reasons behind the World Bank’s support of this workshop aimed at facilitating the alignment of national water legislations with the European Union (EU) acquis were not obvious to me. Given, however, that almost all of the countries covered under the Danube Water Program find themselves somewhere on the path towards EU membership or candidacy, it made sense for some of them to convene.

And who could possibly be more suitable to host such an event than the EU’s youngest member state, Croatia?​

So at the end of September, in a small and – despite the suits rather informal setting at the local World Bank office, around 20 people from several line ministries and water works gathered in a conference room (with a great view of a somewhat rainy Zagreb) for a two-day event. Representatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia came together to discuss potential issues and hurdles that they might encounter in the transposition of EU water laws into their national legal frameworks.​

Why do we need to talk more about risk reduction in Central Asia

Joaquin Toro's picture



Imagine yourself in the last century, walking down one of the streets of a large Central Asian city. You are surrounded by architecture dominated by the Soviet style, with common building types stretching across the blocks. As you walk the streets, suddenly, the ground under your feet starts wobbling and everything around you starts shaking. Buildings, trees, and cars start to shake and you cannot walk any more. Instantly, many structures start to collapse and there is dust and screams everywhere. There is chaos and desperation. An earthquake of magnitude 7+ has hit the city.  This story, a true story, has happened several times in each of the Central Asian countries in the last century.

What makes me proud as a Georgian working for the World Bank

Tako Kobakhidze's picture
 
I am Georgian and I have lived in this small country of about 70,000 square kilometers for almost 30 years. Sadly, I will confess that I have never been to the Gergeti Trinity Church, at an elevation of 2170 meters it sits near one of the highest and most beautiful peaks in the Caucasus Mountains - Kazbegi.
 
But Ahmed Eiweida, my Egyptian colleague, has.
 
If you’re thinking he is an enthusiastic hiker looking for mountains to scale, that isn’t true - although he truly is enthusiastic about supporting the improvement of Georgia's rural areas and leads the Third Regional Development Project (RDP III), financed by the World Bank.
 
The reason I mentioned the Gergeti Trinity Church is that you can find it on the list of thirteen cultural heritage sites that will be improved through this project.

Covering more ground: 18 countries and the work to conserve forests

Ellysar Baroudy's picture
Participants at the 13th FCPF Carbon Fund meeting in Brussels, Belgium
Credits: FCPF Carbon Fund


With all eyes on Paris climate meetings in December, we are at a critical moment to show that our efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are moving from concept to reality.

The World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a 47-country collaboration, focuses on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, also known as REDD+; the Carbon Fund supports countries that have made progress on REDD+ readiness through performance-based payments for emission reductions.

I am a migrant

Jim Yong Kim's picture

Also available in: Français | العربية | 中文 | Español



​In 1964, I came to the United States from South Korea, then an extremely poor developing country that most experts, including those at the World Bank, had written off as having little hope for economic growth.

My family moved to Texas, and later to Iowa. I was just 5 years old when we arrived, and my brother, sister, and I spoke no English. Most of our neighbors and classmates had never seen an Asian before. I felt like a resident alien in every sense of the term.


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