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March 2014

River Salinity in Coastal Bangladesh in a Changing Climate

Susmita Dasgupta's picture

With a virtual certainty that sea-level rise (SLR) will continue beyond 2100 even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized today, it is essential that we gain understanding of the potential impacts of SLR and begin planning adaptation, especially for countries with major risk of SLR. The urgency of responding to the growing alarm over climate change effects worldwide is hitting headlines this week, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its Climate Change 2014 report warning that climate change is already having widespread effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans.

Friday Roundup: Tunisia cronyism, Africa land grabs, Banerjee to lecture, Piketty and Easterly books reviewed, Basu in top thinker contest and more

LTD Editors's picture

The Washington Post's Monkey Cage has a post on crony capitalism in Tunisia that draws from the findings of a widely reported WB working paper by Bob Rijkers, Caroline Freund and Antonio Nucifora  titled 'All in the Family: State Capture in Tunisia.'

Kayode Ogunbunmi, correspondent from City Voice newspaper in Nigeria, covered the World Bank's Annual Land and Poverty Conference in Washington this week his story for Reuters TrustLaw website looks at how foreign investors are often blamed for Africa land grabs conducted by local ruling elites.

Land matters: Experts grapple with issues of measurement, ownership and equity

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

Good stewardship of land – whether fertile fields or tracts on the edges of growing cities – can drive sustainable and equitable development. Done well, good land governance can enable farmers, community leaders, city planners, remote sensing scientists, researchers and relief organizations to successfully deal with climate change, urbanization, gender equality, and food security. But the complexity of land administration, and its attendant institutional and political hurdles, often hamper progress and reinforce deep-seated inequalities and inertia instead of fostering growth and shared prosperity.

This is what makes the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty happening this week at the World Bank so important. Over 1,000 experts from 115 countries have gathered here for the event and are exploring a wide range of problems and potential solutions.

Social norms and incentives: Homo economicus is dead, long live bounded rationality, social interdependence and culture!

Daniel Harris's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

All public policy is based on assumptions, whether implicit or explicit, about human behaviour. These assumptions, particularly those about what motivates people, are often incomplete. A better understanding of human motivation, one that draws on a range of disciplines, offers a chance to improve the effectiveness of development policy.

Friday Roundup: Chronic poverty, remittances, debating inequality, water worries and agriculture, and gender in Africa

LTD Editors's picture

A report by ODI, "The Chronic Poverty Report 2014-2015:The Road to Zero Extreme Poverty," provides an impoverishment index to help countries determine which priorities will pull their citizens out of poverty.

'Remittances and Vulnerability in Developing Countries,' a new World Bank Policy Research Working Paper by Giulia Bettin, Andrea F. Presbitero, and Nikola Spatafora, examines how international remittances are affected by structural characteristics, macroeconomic conditions, and adverse shocks in both source and recipient economies.

More to do on measuring hunger

Kathleen Beegle's picture

One of the first Millennium Development Goals is to reduce hunger by half between 1990 and 2015. To date, the global hunger count has fallen slightly, from 1 billion in 1990–1992 to 870 million in 2010–2012 (Food and Agriculture Organization 2013). As a proportion of the world’s population, this is just a one-third fall in the hunger rate, from 19% to 13%. In contrast, the other highly visible Millennium Development Goal – reducing extreme poverty by half – was achieved by 2010.
 
The failure of the hunger rate to fall as fast as poverty undoubtedly has many causes. Increased volatility of world food prices and the damaging responses by some countries hardly help (Rocha et al. 2012). But researchers also are starting to study measurement issues – the methodology for measuring the hungry differs from that for measuring the poor.

​Leveling the field is not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.

Michael O’Sullivan's picture

With the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Partnership Platform meeting underway this week in Durban, policymakers are seeking ways to boost agricultural productivity and promote inclusive growth in Africa. Investing in Africa’s female farmers offers one promising path forward. 

Women contribute close to half of Africa’s crop labor yet a host of factors constrain their contribution to Africa’s overall productivity. Policymakers need better evidence before they can chart a course of action. Where should they focus their resources? Which factors need tackling first? And what, if any, sound evidence is available on investments that can yield deep impacts?

Friday round up: Population worries in Africa, the internet in 2025, managing oil wealth, global food policy, and Bangladesh microcredit

LTD Editors's picture

A piece titled 'The dividend is delayed' in the March 8 edition of The Economist summarizes a new research paper by Jean-Pierre Guengant and John May titled, 'African Demography,' which predicts a higher fertility rate for Africa than calculated by the UN.

Sarah Gray writes in Salon about the future of the internet in 2025.

Inspiring change, one drop at a time!

LTD Editors's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'mind and culture,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2015.

For one night, the Cirque du Soleil closes all its shows in Las Vegas. Instead, more than 100 artists come together to create one magnificent show in support of One Drop to give out a simple, yet very powerful message: water, for today and forever. For One Drop, awareness is as essential as economic development to drive change to make water accessible to all. The non-profit organization uses social arts to connect, communicate, and convince communities to adopt sound water management practices that ensure sustainability in the long run. The Let’s Talk team caught up with Jacques Rajotte, Chief Operating and Innovation Officer, and Danielle Valiquette, Chief International Programs Officer, One Drop, on their visit to the World Bank last week to know more about operationalizing social arts as an impactful tool for social transformation.

Do Latin American Firms Invest in R&D?

Asif Islam's picture

The rewards of innovation for developing nations do not require much convincing. Poverty alleviation, faster economic growth, greater job creation, and higher worker remuneration are just some of the potential benefits. The idea of innovation as a key driver of development can be traced back to the seminal works of economists such as Joseph Schumpeter. Thus, it is no surprise that on July 30 and 31, 2013 a group of innovation leaders from 18 countries gathered in Santiago, Chile for the first pan Latin American Innovation Summit. The event was kicked off by Sebastian Piñera, then President of Chile, who had announced a national innovation budget of $1 billion. What about the private sector? An important driver of innovation is Research and Development (R & D) spending by businesses.  Evidence shows that firms that invest in R&D and other innovation-related activities have higher productivity and are more capable of making technological advances than firms that do not.  So, where do Latin American firms stand on R & D investment?

Global and Local Connectivity and Spatial Development

Ejaz Ghani's picture

With William Kerr and Alexander Segura.

Developing countries have become much more globally integrated. On a global dimension, they now trade a lot more with other countries than they did two decades ago. Domestic connectivity at the country level has been helped through investments in road networks as urban and rural areas are becoming better connected not just through roads but phones lines and faster flows of knowledge.

How global and local connectivity influence spatial development and distribution of jobs is a tricky question. A naïve approach might look industry-by-industry at their exposure to trade or highways and ask what happens to the average wage in the industry as highways form.  This approach, however, risks confounding several forces.  It could be, for example, that a decline in the average wage represents a positive outcome if 1) those firms and workers who were already in the industry are experiencing wage growth, and 2) the industry overall expands to pull in workers from subsistence agriculture.  A declining average wage can signify the second factor is dominating the first factor, but this might be cause for celebration by policy makers rather than a source of concern.

Friday round up: Women in Ukraine, new fund for women entrepreneurs, women and the law, WBG President and staff on women in development

LTD Editors's picture

Anne Marie Slaughter of New America has a podcast on women's role in the Ukraine uprising.

Philanthropy News Digest reports on the launch of a new Gloldman Sachs-World Bank Group $600 million fund for women entrepreneurs.

How legal reforms improve women's welfare is a question being studied by World Bank economist Mary Hallward-Driemeier.

Why discrimination?

Rasmus Heltberg's picture

The international media have recently put attention to laws against homosexuality adopted by several African countries. Sensible people have, quite rightly, expressed outrage over these laws, and the widespread homophobia behind them. World Bank President Jim Kim expressed his opinion against such discrimination deeming it bad for people and for societies. In a Washington Post opinion piece, President Kim shares his personal experience of being judged based on appearance and reminds us that discrimination is widespread: 83 countries in the world outlaw homosexuality; more than 100 countries discriminate against women; and even more countries have laws that discriminate against minority groups.

A recent research by Audrey Sacks, Safi Lakhani, and me indicates that negative attitudes toward various groups are widespread around the world. Although these things vary by country, immigrants, ethnic minorities, the poor, HIV-positive, and homosexuals are frequent targets of discriminatory attitudes—in developed and developing countries alike.

Should Sovereign Wealth Funds Invest at Home?

Alan Gelb's picture

Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) represent a large and growing pool of savings and an increasing number are owned by natural resource exporting countries. The funds have a variety of objectives, including intergenerational equity and macroeconomic stabilization. Traditionally they have invested abroad, increasingly in developing country assets, but always as part of a strategy to boost yields while remaining diversified. However, a recent trend sees an increasing number starting to invest in their domestic markets, including in infrastructure and other greenfield investments. Angola, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Nigeria are examples; funds with a domestic investment mandate are also being established by Colombia, Morocco, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.