Syndicate content

progress

There is no famine in South London today

Gonzalo Castro de la Mata's picture

Not a likely headline in today’s world, and yet this is among the most important news in recent history. Since Homo sapiens appeared on the planet, societies have experienced steady progress on all issues related to their wellbeing: access to food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the environment, literacy, freedom and equality. More importantly, progress in the last two centuries has accelerated to the point that the great majority of humans today live longer, better, healthier and richer lives than did their parents and grandparents.

“Progress” is indeed the title of the recently published book by Swedish author Johan Norberg. In it, and after building and analyzing a robust set of metadata compiled from the OECD, the World Bank, UN agencies and other reliable sources, he concludes categorically that “by almost any index, things are markedly better now that they have ever been for almost everyone alive.”

Some examples. Norberg points out that harvests failed frequently in Sweden in the 17th century, and a single famine between 1696 and 1697 killed one in 15 people. There were even some accounts of cannibalism. As economies in Europe grew, per capita consumption of calories increased from around 1,800 in the mid-18th century to 2,700 in 1850. Famines disappeared, and Sweden was declared free from hunger in the early 1900s. But progress is not circumscribed to Europe. Globally, undernourishment fell from 50 percent of the world’s population in 1945 to about 10 percent today. Similarly, access to water and sanitation has increased steadily in its coverage, going from 50 percent to 92 percent in terms of access to clean water, and from 25 percent to 68 percent in terms of sanitation in the last 50 years. The consequence is the removal of one of the main sources of death and disease.

Quote of the Week: Diane Ackerman

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Our new age, for all its sins, is laced with invention… We have tripled our life span, reduced childhood mortality, and for most people, improved the quality of life…Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”
 

-Diane Ackerman, a poet, essayist, and naturalist. She is the author of two dozen well-regarded works of nonfiction and poetry, including The Zookeeper's WifeA Natural History of the Senses, and the latest New York Times bestseller, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us.
 

Latin America: Should this Earth Day be different from others?

Karin Erika Kemper's picture

También disponible en español e português

It’s tempting to think that this is just another Earth Day – after all, it has been celebrated since 1970. But perhaps this year should be different, at least in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year marks the third year of drought for Northeast Brazil - still affecting some 10 million people, according to recent reports; a year when Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro suffered torrential rains and floods, impacting hundreds of thousands of people in these large metropolitan areas.

The World Bank is Listening: Global Consultations Shape New Education Strategy for 2020

What will the world look like in ten years and how can we best tailor our work in education to help countries achieve a future that is prosperous and equitable?

These are some of the questions the World Bank has been asking the global community as it charts its direction in education for the next ten years.

Consultations kicked off this spring to help shape and inform the new Education Sector Strategy for 2020. The education strategy team embarked on a series of consultations with the governments of client countries, multilateral and bilateral entities, local and international NGOs, donors, academia, and civil society to solicit their input. Summaries of discussions from the consultations to date have been posted online.