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South Asia

Big lessons on climate change from a small country

Annette Dixon's picture
Landscape of terrace fields and homes. Bhutan
Landscape of terrace fields and homes in Bhutan. Credits: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

The mountain kingdom of Bhutan may not seem an obvious place to look for lessons on addressing climate change. But on a recent visit I was impressed with how much this small country has achieved and also with its ambition. Bhutan has much to teach South Asia and the wider world. These lessons are especially relevant as the world negotiates in Paris a new pact on climate change at the International Climate Change Summit, known as COP21, which we all hope will eventually move the global economy to a low carbon and more resilient path.

The talks aimed at agreeing a way to keep global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial era levels. There is widespread agreement that going above this threshold would have serious consequences. South Asia is among the regions of the world that is likely to be most affected by climate change. We are already experiencing this. There is increasing variability of the monsoon rainfall, more heavy rainfalls such as those that caused the recent flooding in India, and an increase in the number of droughts.

A World Bank report in 2013 predicted that even if the warming climate was kept at 2 degrees then this could threaten the lives of millions of people in South Asia. The region's dense urban populations face extreme heat, flooding and diseases and millions of people could be trapped in poverty. Droughts could especially affect north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These are big problems. They may look much bigger than anything Bhutan - a very small country in a populous region - can teach South Asia and the world. But I see three lessons. Firstly, a commitment to ambitious goals will be critical to save the world from climate disaster. To stop the world from warming too much, climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by up to 70 percent by 2050. Carbon neutrality (zero emissions) must be achieved within this century.
 

China: in pursuit of a new development pathway

Xueman Wang's picture
City landscape, Tianjin, China. Photo: Yang Aijun / World Bank


More than 180 countries have submitted their intended national climate plans to get on a low-carbon development pathway ahead of COP21 climate talks, now underway in Paris.

Called the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), most include mitigation targets to be implemented by 2025 or 2030. But these plans are not just about numbers. Many of them, particularly those put forward by developing countries, also propose climate actions within the countries’ overall development framework, including adaptation. Hardly surprising, as after all, tackling climate change is about effectively managing a country’s economy.

​This certainly seems to be the case for China. 

How corruption affects businesses around the world, in 5 charts

Ravi Kumar's picture


We know corruption in developing countries affects poor people the most. It also impacts firms in many ways.

Here are five charts showing how corruption is affecting businesses from South Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Time for financial institutions to mainstream climate

Jane Ebinger's picture



Today, a group of 26 financial institutions from across the globe, including the World Bank Group, launched five voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action within Financial Institution. The Principles are meant to support and guide financial institutions moving forward in adapting to and promoting climate-smart development, and have been developed based on practices implemented by financial institutions worldwide over the last two decades. 

The consequences of banning child labor

Caio Piza's picture
From a normative perspective, we can all agree that child labor is reprehensible and should be banned, particularly in its worst forms. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), child labor has declined worldwide in the last fifteen years, but the numbers are still alarming. In 2012, 168 million children were a part of child labor with more than half of these kids involved in hazardous work.  

Can fashion and art help prevent gender-based violence?

Hiska Reyes's picture
 
Why is the World Bank sponsoring a fashion show in India and an art show in Bangladesh? The answer is simple, we’re trying to find new approaches – creative approaches – to prevent gender-based violence (GBV).
 
Gender-based violence is a pervasive issue. On average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. Worldwide, 720 million women and 156 million men married before the age of 18, with child marriage most common in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. A 20-country study—where over 4,000 women and men were asked their views on gender differences — revealed that norms, beliefs and attitudes play a critical role in dictating behavior for both women and men, and the consequences for not keeping to these norms is often violence.
 

Finding employment for young people of all abilities

Matt Hobson's picture
Young women from family with members with disabilities being taught to use a sewing machine.
India. Photo: © John Isaac / World Bank

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
 
In every society globally, unemployment rates for persons with disabilities are higher than for people without disabilities. The International Labor Organization reports that, in some Asia-Pacific countries, the unemployment rate of people living with disabilities is over 80%. 

How a professor started a campaign to fight everyday corruption in India

Alice Lloyd's picture
Also available in Spanish,  French and Arabic
Photo credit: 5th Pillar


An expatriate Indian physics professor, when traveling back home to India, found himself harassed by endless extortion demands. As a way to fight corruption by shaming the officials who ask for bribes, the professor created a fake currency bill: the zero-rupee note.

The notes are identical to Indian banknotes, but carry the slogan, "Eliminate corruption at all levels," and the pledge, "I promise to neither accept nor give bribe".

Vijay Anand, president of the non-governmental organization 5th Pillar, thought the idea could work on a larger scale. Initially, the NGO printed 25,000 zero-rupee notes and distributed them to students in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Since 2007, the NGO has distributed more than one million bills in five languages, covering 600-plus institutions. Volunteers hand them out near places where officials often solicit bribes, such as railway stations and government hospitals. 

The resilient brain and its crucial role in human development

Dorota Chapko's picture
Young children in Uzbekistan play with mind-stimulating games. Photo: Matluba Mukhamedova / World Bank


​Did you know that investments in early childhood are crucial for achieving the brain’s full developmental potential and resilience?
 
Jim Heckman, Nobel Laureate in economics, and his collaborators have shown that strong foundational skills built in early childhood are crucial for socio-economic success. These foundational skills lead to a self-reinforcing motivation to learn so that “skills beget skills”. This leads to better-paying jobs, healthier lifestyle choices, greater social participation, and more productive societies. Growing research also reveals that these benefits are linked to the important role that early foundations of cognitive and socio-emotional abilities play on healthy brain development across the human lifespan.

Brain complexity –the diversity and complexity of neural pathways and networks— is moulded during childhood and has a lasting impact on the development of cognitive and socio-emotional human abilities.

De-risking climate-smart investments

Rachel Stern's picture
 CIF / World Bank
The city of Ouarzazate in Morocco will host what will become one of the largest solar power plants in the world. Photo: CIF / World Bank


The investment needs for low-carbon, climate-resilience growth are substantial. Public resources can bridge viability gaps and cover risks that private actors are unable or unwilling to bear, while the private sector can bring the financial flows and innovation required to sustain progress. For this partnership to reach its full potential, investors need to be provided with the necessary signals, enabling environments, and incentives to confidently invest in emerging economies.  


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