2008 is so last decade. And yet, the recent hike in food prices is bringing food costs near the dangerous levels of that year, creating enormous vulnerabilities in developing countries.
Agriculture and Rural Development
7 weeks of outreach, 50 days of meeting, engaging, dialoguing with some of the brightest, most committed minds involved in creating social impact across India. And an overwhelming 264 proposals received from organizations seeking funding to scale their projects with support from the India Development Marketplace 2011. The response is extraordinary given the fact that this version of the India DM is focused on enabling Scale.
Therefore these are not start-up ideas – but instead are more mature models that are already demonstrating at least 2 years of operational existence, a movement towards financial sustainability, a reasonable clarity in their unit costs and a demonstrated and valuable social impact that can be replicated.
This week I was at the UN Forum on Forests meeting in New York where the International Year of the Forests was formally launched.
The Year of the Forests starts with a cautiously optimistic message: FAO’s report on the State of the World’s Forests released at the forum says that the forest loss across the world has slowed down over the last decade. Now the pattern of deforestation varies and is country-specific rather than being negative across the board. China, Vietnam and Costa Rica among others are countries where the forest cover is actually going up.
More importantly, I see an opening in how the problems of deforestation and forest degradation are being addressed internationally. Like the logo of the International Year of Forests, people are seen at the heart of this effort now. This has not always been the norm. Take the case of REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which was debated in Bali at the first Forest Day in 2007. At that time, reducing emissions meant simply putting up fences to conserve the last pristine forests in the Amazon, the Congo basin and in Indonesia.
Now our understanding of how to address deforestation has evolved. Forests today are more strongly linked in people’s minds to questions of food security, improved livelihoods and the general resilience of the people. This is where REDD + comes in, with approaches that go beyond restrictive approaches and focus now more and more on approaches to enhance forest stocks and restore degraded landscapes. It is good news for people and forests that the role of forests in climate change mitigation is being understood in a much broader context.
10-year-old Felix Finkbeiner speaks at the United Nations Forum on Forests. Watch the full speech here.
The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya. The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator). The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.
As Christmas tourists replace COP delegates in the Moon Palace, post-mortems abound. From the World Bank’s standpoint the important question is: what did this really do for the prospects of long term poverty reduction in developing countries? The answer: potentially, a lot. Earlier this week, this subject was discussed at the Board of the World Bank.
Going into Cancun we suggested some stretch-targets that would mark a strong outcome for Cancun for developing countries. Some of these were over-achieved (eg Carbon Markets), some under-achieved (eg agriculture)–but, overall , expectations were more than met.
Climate change poses a serious threat to future food security. Increases in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns are expected to increase food shortages, especially in Africa. In response, governments and scientists are looking for ways to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on food production.
Ethiopia, which has a strong history of conserving its food crops, has partnered with the CGIAR-supported Bioversity International to implement a World Bank Development Marketplace 2009 winning project called Innovative Pilot Scheme Would Match Seeds to the Needs of Women Farmers. The project works to ensure farmers, particularly women farmers, will have an assured supply of climate-tolerant seeds for food production as climatic conditions change in the future.
Now that I’ve introduced myself in my last blog, I want to tell you more about my DM2008 project called “Using cassava wastes to feed goats.” The project has created a new market linking cassava producers and goat keepers through the introduction of a simple drying technology that turns cassava waste into goat feed. As a result, the project is increasing farming incomes and reducing carbon dioxide wastes by eliminating the need to burn cassava waste.
The Local Governance Support Project (LGSP) is the centrepiece of a broader program to strengthen accountable forms of local governance across Bangladesh. The LGSP provided matching grants and capacity building support to Union Parishads (UPs), which is the lowest tier of rural local government bodies. The project was initiated in July 2006 and in the final year (FY11), it has covered nearly 97% of the 4500 UPs. Each year the UPs are audited, and those that receive a clean audit received an expanded block grant. The LGSP is the first project of its kind in Bangladesh that supported systemic, country-wide reforms in the system of local governance.
Everything about Cancun’s COP16 is very different from Copenhagen’s COP15. To start with, last year we were in the cavernous Bella Center with throngs of people, while a massive series of snow storms were bearing down on Copenhagen. Well, here we are in Cancun on a seemingly endless hotel strip. A tourism paradise, with silver beaches, turquoise waters, and a gentle breeze welcoming all COP16 delegates and beckoning everyone to leave meetings and laptops behind and run for the waves…
But just like COP15 delegates braved the cold and the snow, COP16 delegates are displaying will power and determination and heading for the “Moon Palace”, which is where the negotiations, plenary sessions, and official meetings are taking place.
The Bank team has been participating in a number of side events while here in Cancun. Saturday was “Agriculture Day” with nearly 1,000 participants registered. This demonstrated the great interest in charting a path that will ensure that climate change priorities are not treated in absence from agricultural priorities. I was honored to give the keynote speech at the opening of the day’s deliberations and we were pleased to note that our core messages appeared to have significant resonance.