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Europe and Central Asia

Annual Meetings get underway

Angie Gentile's picture

Istanbul Congress Center. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe buzz is building in Istanbul, our beautiful host city, as delegates, press and CSOs from around the world begin pouring in for the 2009 joint Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

The press room opened Monday, providing temporary work quarters for the more than 1,200 registered media who are covering the events over the next week for news outlets large and small.

They are joined by representatives from civil society organizations here to take part in a Civil Society Policy Forum being held from October 2-7. The event is jointly organized by the World Bank Group and IMF civil society teams. The forum will bring together Bank and Fund staff, CSO representatives, including from Oxfam, Civicus and Africa Monitor, to name a few, along with government officials, academics, and others to exchange views on a variety of topics ranging from the global economic crisis and climate change, to governance reform. Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will co-host a CSO townhall meeting Friday afternoon.

Turkey: Host of 2009 Annual Meetings

Sameer Vasta's picture

Sunset in Istanbul by Nick Leonard

The 2009 Annual Meetings kick off in a few short days in Istanbul, Turkey. A dynamic emerging-market economy strategically located between Europe and Asia, Turkey joined the World Bank in 1947 is the World Bank's largest borrower in the Europe and Central Asia Region.

The Annual Meetings will be held in the newly-built Istanbul Congress Centre, a state-of-the-art conference facility that opened two weeks ago. The Meetings will be the first major event to be hosted at the new facility.

Media For Ethnic Minorities - Media Segregation?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Hürriyet, a Turkish newspaper that has a special edition that is published in Germany for the Turkish diasporaWe're using the summer to work hard on putting the finishing touches on our forthcoming publication, Public Sentinel: News Media and Governance Reform, edited by Pippa Norris from the Harvard Kennedy School. In this book, we will discuss the news media's roles as watchdog, agenda setters, and gatekeepers to the public forum. We will present studies and cases from all over the world that show the effect that media can have, but also what constraints can hinder the media in fulfilling these roles. When we started putting this work together, I was struck by how little examples and evidence we could find on the media as public forum, as a platform that gives voice to diverse social groups, even those on the margins of society. Now that I'm proofreading the final chapters, I'm reminded of a study I was once involved in that looked at the media's role for Turkish migrants in Germany - a group that qualifies as marginalized indeed.

Soft Power: Talking to the People

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

East Germans gathering in front of the "Erfurter Hof" to see West German Chancellor Willy BrandtWatching current international events unfold, we increasingly see how foreign policy acknowledges the role of the public in politics. Since the 1990s scholars have used the term "soft power" to describe a certain kind of international diplomacy, and it seems that this kind of cooperative diplomacy gains more and more weight on the international stage. The term "soft power" was coined by Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye in his 1990 book Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power and he developed his concept further in Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, published in 2004.

Climate dilemmas in Central Asia

Rasmus Heltberg's picture
    Photo © Rasmus Heltberg/World Bank

How should climate change be addressed in Tajikistan, the poorest and—according to a World Bank regional assessment, most climate-vulnerable—country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia?1  On a recent visit to this scenic nation to assess the poverty aspects of climate change, we struggled with this seemingly simple question. Answers remain elusive, given the country’s daunting climate dilemmas. So, while in Dushanbe, I attempted to write about the range of the challenge.

First, consider Tajikistan’s thousands of glaciers, many of which are receding. As they melt, farmers downstream enjoy plentiful water supply and see no need to take action. However, once the glaciers are gone, dry rivers and extreme water scarcity could mean the end of farming livelihoods in some areas.

Every silver lining has a cloud: the impacts of climate change in Europe and Central Asia

Rachel Ilana Block's picture
 Photo © Rachel Block/World Bank

Reading the newspapers last January when Russia suspended the supply of gas to the rest of Europe—with Eastern European countries hardest hit—I could not help but think that the region might be better off with fewer sub-zero days during winter.

On a trip to the Balkans last year, I partook of the colorful summer bounty of peppers and tomatoes enjoyed throughout southern Russia and Southeastern Europe. 

"Dear Diary: August 27th, 2008. Sarajevo.  Best tomato of my life. If this reckless bus driver careens off the mountainside, at least I’ll die satisfied."

What a contrast from the pickles and cabbage my great-great-grandparents subsisted on in Poland and Lithuania! Though I was raised “properly”—with a taste for pickled cauliflower and herring—I could see why the northern reaches of the region might appreciate a longer growing season and more sunny, tomato-ripening days.

Studying (and contributing to) projections of global food supply in the changing climate over the next century, I see precipitous drops in yields projected in already-poor swaths of Africa, and in densely populated and cultivated regions in South and East Asia.  But many have concluded that, globally, there will be enough food to go around—thanks to the expanding role of Europe and Central Asia as the breadbasket of the world—and assuming free and fair international trade in food.
 
A recent report by the World Bank, “Adapting to Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia,” argues that these outcomes can by no means be taken for granted.

Soup or Salad? Contrasting Approaches to Deliberation in the European Union

Taeku Lee's picture

Imagine you have walked back home from your local town market on a jasmine-scented Saturday morning with a bagful of the season’s harvest. In Northern California in the summer, that bag will probably contain some heirloom tomatoes, hothouse cucumbers, red bell peppers, Meyer lemons, and mint sprigs. As you sit to rest your feet, your mouth starts to water in anticipation of how these provisions will taste. They are meant to entertain guests over supper later in the evening, but you simply cannot wait and decide to steal a sampling of small pieces of each item. 

What do we know about using mobile phones in education? (part 2)

Michael Trucano's picture

image courtesy kiwanja.netRecent posts to this blog about the use of mobile phones in education in developing countries have generated a *lot* of page views.  News earlier this year that firms in the United States are beginning to make a pitch for greater use of mobile phones in the education sector highlights the increased attention that this topic is now receiving in OECD member countries as well.

Critical investments in safety nets to rise

Sameer Vasta's picture

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Group Managing DirectorIn light of the global economic crisis, the World Bank announced today that its investments in safety nets and other social protection programs in health and education are projected to triple to $12 billion over the next two years.

Additionally, the Bank also increased its fast track facility for the food price crisis to US$2 billion from US$1.2 billion. As World Bank Group Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explains:

"The continuing risky economic environment, combined with continuing volatility for food prices, means for poor people the food crisis is far from over. Many poor countries have not benefitted from some moderation of food price spikes in global markets. The decision to expand the facility will help ensure fast track measures are in place for continued rapid response to help countries."

More information about today's announcements:

From Nepal to the Nordic countries, innovations in digital learning resources

Michael Trucano's picture

The recent launch of the E-Pustakalaya digital library in Nepal is one example of the innovative ways that countries are exploring how to provide learning materials to schools in electronic formats.


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