The recent massive streets protests against the brutal and deadly assault on a young woman in a private bus in India capital, New Delhi, have been likened to the Arab Spring of India, a definitive turning point in the country’s political evolution. Clearly, in both its composition and content, the protests resonate with, not only the revolutionary street demonstrations in early 2011 in many countries in the Middle East, but also with a number of other movements that have burgeoned in countries across the world over the last couple of years. In the wake of the Arab Spring, and supposedly drawing inspiration from it, demonstrators occupied the financial centers of the US and Europe, conjuring up images of the 1960s. Unrest over austerity measures in European capitals hit by the global financial crisis continued. In the UK and Chile, students took to the streets protesting against high university fees. And in India itself, the anti-rape protests came on the heels of an anticorruption movement, unparalleled in its mass participation, media attention, and longevity.
Middle East and North Africa
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Here at the World Bank we believe that independent internal evaluation is central to strengthening our work. Rigorous, evidence-based evaluation informs the design of global programs and enhances the development impact of partner and country efforts.
The World Bank Group’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has undertaken a review of the implementation of the 2002 Forest Strategy. The strategy emphasized the positive developmental benefits of forest conservation and management, while strengthening environmental and social safeguards.
The report confirms that the World Bank’s forest work has:
- contributed substantially to positive environmental outcomes;
- successfully reduced deforestation when forest protected areas are designed and managed by people who live in and around them;
- improved livelihoods, especially through support for participatory forest management initiatives, which involve and empower local communities;
- advanced the rule of law in a sector plagued by patronage, corruption, and rent-seeking by increasing transparency and accountability and by putting environmental standards in place.
But to be most useful, an evaluation must meet a quality standard.
While we agree with some of IEG’s findings, we – and our Board - strongly disagree with others.
In light of recent political and social unrest in the region, foreign investors are taking a “wait-and-see” attitude to projects in the Middle East and North Africa. For the region’s investment promoters, this demands better, more proactive performance than in the past. Fortunately, although much remains to be done, the investment agencies of the 19 MENA governments are, as a group, off to a good start, according to a World Bank Group report released today.
Global Investment Promotion Best Practices 2012: Seizing the Potential for Better Investment Facilitation in the MENA Region reports on the ability of investment-promoting institutions (IPIs) in 189 countries to handle investor inquiries and provide investors with quality business information through their Web sites. It shows that the MENA region was the only one in the world to achieve significant improvement since the last edition of GIPB in 2009, with the IPIs of Morocco and Yemen among the world's three most improved.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in January 18 on what it will take to shape the future of cities — and cut pollution, road deaths, commute times, and poverty.
A large part of the answer: greener, more efficient and cost-effective urban transportation that is designed to move people, not cars.
“We have to start looking at other ways to move people. Traffic does hurt your economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the 10th Annual Transforming Transportation conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ.
With 90 percent of city air pollution caused by vehicles, finding transportation solutions also will help confront emissions that drive climate change, Dr. Kim added.
While on its path to becoming the largest city in the Americas, Sao Paulo used its natural capital - water - to generate electricity, fuel industry, and satiate its ever-growing population. Natural infrastructure was traded for the concrete form and the city’s great rivers paid a high price for industrialization.
The result? Tremendous growth (averaging 5% per annum) that stimulated rapid and unplanned migration to the city and environmental pollution. Urban sprawl generated little to no infrastructure for managing water, sanitation and wastewater, or solid waste. Clearing the land for houses caused erosion and compacted soils, and the resulting increase in runoff has made an already wet city even more prone to floods.
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The number of vehicles on the world’s roads is on pace to double to about 1.7 billion by 2035. Pair that with a rapidly urbanizing population – six in 10 of us are likely to live in cities by 2030 – and the world’s cities have a transport problem in the making.
It’s also an opportunity, one that cities, particularly the fast-growing urban centers in developing countries, must take now.
Those that build efficient, inclusive urban transport systems can connect their people with jobs, health care, and education. They can reduce congestion, and they can limit carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change.
Ensuring that backbone telecommunications networks are widely accessible, of good quality, and delivered efficiently and competitively is critical to boosting productivity and international competitiveness in the MENA region. They are major determinants of production costs and speeding up affordable access to broadband Internet will ultimately result in higher employment, growth, and improved living standards.
In September 2012 and as part of its Brown Bag Lunch (BBL) series, the Development Marketplace (DM) team hosted a discussion entitled “Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities & Challenges in MENA: Presentations from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine” where we invited Synergos Social Innovators to share their experiences from the region.
Much like the kinds of social enterprises the DM hopes to support in Egypt, Synergos also supports social innovators in the region to fulfill unmet needs for the poor and marginalized. Synergos is a non-profit that mobilizes resources and bridges social and economic divides to reduce poverty and increase equity around the world.
The Synergos Arab World Social Innovators (AWSI) program was launched in 2008 with leadership and funding from the US Agency for International Development. AWSI supports nearly 40 civil society leaders serving poor and marginalized communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates. Social innovators are pioneers of change in their communities and offer original approaches, methods, and solutions to address social and economic problems.
For more information on the event you can access the full report here.
The appetite for change at COP18 was heard loudly and clearly in the many informal gatherings at the conference center. Coalitions, climate finance, and scientific agreement came from the dynamic debate in Doha. To follow up those conversations, deals and dreams, and actionable projects, I have initiated a study to address the longer-term global challenges that we will face together in the decade ahead. Collective Solutions 2025 will present a strategy for how multilateral development institutions can achieve sustainable development and inclusive green growth to boost prosperity and end poverty.
After several months of planning and consultations with our partners, which started in May 2011, the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) was launched on November 8, 2012. As part of the outreach strategy, the Egypt DM team organized a series of information sessions in four of Upper Egypt’s major cities; Asyut, Qena, Aswan and Minya. The sessions were co-organized and co-hosted with Egypt DM partners International Labor Organization, Social Fund for Development, Sawiris Foundation, and others. The sessions were attended by approximately 400 leaders from agricultural cooperatives, NGOs and small companies. In addition to the usual warm welcome and generous hospitality, typical of Egyptians, here are some reflections based on what we heard from the participants: