I sometimes wonder — do women in Belarus live a good life? Well, they are better educated than men, live about a decade longer than men, and enjoy generous social guarantees (3 years of child care leave, for example). And they have a high-level of labor force participation and representation in politics.
Even by international standards, Belarusian women seem to live well. In the latest Global Gender Gap Index, Belarus was ranked 26th out of 144 countries — higher than Australia or the Netherlands. The statistics certainly indicate a high-level of gender equality in Belarus.
According to The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017, Africa is forecasted to produce just 100 million new jobs by 2035, while the working age population is projected to grow by more than 450 million. The fastest population growth will occur in the 15 to 35-year-old demographic. This growing working-age population presents both an opportunity and a potential risk to Africa’s future prosperity. To ensure these new workers engage in productive livelihoods and prevent significant increases in extreme poverty and civil unrest, governments will need to enable job creation, including scaling cost-effective livelihood development programs targeting the extreme poor. Described below is a cost-effective approach which is yielding promising results and scaling through results-based financing.
Today, I’m participating in the “Leaving No One Behind” conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and reflecting on what it takes to do just that – to ensure no one is left behind.
The fact that this conference is about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and how governments and development institutions can address exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), causes me to reflect on those who have to face this stigma because they do not conform to the expectations of society.
Too often, the world can feel like a harsh and non-inclusive place for people who don’t fit others’ ideas of how they should look, think, speak, feel, behave – how they should “be”. I firmly believe that this has real impacts on individuals, communities, and economies.
However, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide great opportunity for more inclusive development – opportunity for a seismic change in human development. After all, the overarching principle adopted with the SDGs is the theme of today’s conference – “leaving no one behind”. Whether it’s the SDGs, or the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity, I strongly believe that these lofty goals can only be achieved through economic and social inclusion of the most marginalized.
During a recent trip to a popular tourist enclave in Kazakhstan called Borovoye, I decided to make a stopover in the village of Makinsk, about 150 km north of the capital city Astana. I was keen to learn more about the communities and people living outside the capital and other major cities. Living in a modern, dynamic city like Astana, one does not get a true sense of people’s lives in rural Kazakhstan.
In Makinsk, I met with Kabenke Dosenkhan and Onerkhan Nurbek, the proud parents of eight children; their youngest was born in February this year. They told me about the village and their daily lives, and they introduced their wonderful children. I also heard about how they had struggled in the recent past to make ends meet, surviving on the equivalent of US$50 per month in child benefits, supplemented occasionally with pay for manual labor by the head of the household, Onerkhan.
Had you looked across Shanghai's Huangpu River from west to east in the 1980s, you would mostly have seen farmland dotted with a few scattered buildings. At the time, it was unimaginable that East Shanghai, or Pudong, would one day become a global financial centre; that its futuristic skyline, sleek expressways, and rapid trains would one day be showcased in blockbusters like James Bond and Mission Impossible movies! It was also unimaginable that the Shanghainese would consider living in Pudong.
How wrong that would have been! Pudong is now hosting some of the world's most productive companies, and boosting some of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods. And Shanghai has become China's most important global city, lifting the entire hinterland with it.
Dhaka's population has grown from three million in 1980 to 18 million today and it continues to increase rapidly, which is a clear sign of success. However, Dhaka's development has been mostly spontaneous, with its urban infrastructure not keeping pace with its population growth.
It is an unfortunate but fact of life that Indonesia often deals with the impacts of natural disasters. It was sadly evident again this week when I arrived in Jakarta to the unfolding disaster caused by the earthquake in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. My condolences go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.
While scientists are reluctant to say a specific natural disaster is caused by climate change, they say a changing climate is resulting in more extreme events around the world. That’s why at International Finance Corporation (IFC), the largest global organization working with the private sector in emerging markets, finding new avenues for climate financing is a key priority.
Green bonds offer a pathway. The world is witnessing a rapid growth in green bonds, dramatically increasing the flow of capital to green projects and bringing new financiers into the climate smart investment space.
Across the disaster risk management community, there is growing recognition that protecting cultural heritage is fundamental to urban resilience. Traditional knowledge embedded in cultural heritage, such as historical evacuation routes or shelters, can help societies cope with natural hazards. Moreover, when these hazards disrupt cultural heritage sites, such as museums, monuments and places of worship, they often cause irreparable damage to people’s cultures, identities and livelihoods.
A case in point is last year’s devastating earthquake in central Mexico, which damaged over 1,500 historic buildings, including the 250-year-old Church of Santa Prisca, one of the country’s grandest and most beloved churches. Mexico is one of a number of countries that have undertaken major efforts to protect cultural heritage sites, including through its Plan Verde, which works to reduce seismic and other disaster risks in Mexico City’s historic center.
On the sidelines of the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum, which was aptly held in Mexico City, Giovanni Boccardi, Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit for the Culture Sector of UNESCO, made the case that much more needs to be done to put cultural heritage front and center in the disaster risk management agenda.
Cities are growing at a staggering rate, changing our world beyond recognition. For the first time in history, over half the population -- 55 percent -- lives in urban areas. By 2050, that number will rise to 68 percent. This rapid urban growth has given rise to sprawling megacities, many of which are in Asia and Africa.
Perhaps no place epitomizes this trend better than Shanghai. In 1990, the city was still primarily an industrial hub with a population of 13 million. By 2016, the figure had ballooned to 24 million, making Shanghai one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and the financial and economic hub of China.
The countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) endure a paradox. They have a highly educated labor force but a large pool of unemployed youth. Whether this contradiction results from uncoordinated economic and educational policies, skill mismatch, low productivity of labor, or anemic demand due to lack of a robust private sector, the ensuing lengthy unemployment and skill depreciation have resulted in disproportionate human capital erosion across the MENA region. MENA countries’ rankings in improving their human capital formation have fallen, acc ording to the human capital index (produced by the World Economic Forum) and in 2017, were among the lowest in the world, close to South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Degrees get you the job, but they don’t help you to keep it.” Virginia Ndung’u, a trainee at Nairobi’s software developer accelerator Moringa School highlights one of the many challenges in ensuring students are prepared for the digital economy.