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January 2009

Documentary shorts highlight impact of climate change on people in East Asia & Pacific

James I Davison's picture

When it comes to climate change, many believe the world's poorest people in developing countries will be affected the worst. A "micro-documentary" contest hosted by the World Bank's Social Development Department challenged filmmakers from around the world to highlight the social aspects of climate change.

Several of the contest entries focused on countries and peoples in the East Asia and Pacific, including the third-place film about one of the last remaining peat swamp forests in Aceh, Indonesia.


After the jump, watch another film depicting the climate crisis in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati.

Some optimism during gloomy mood of Davos 2009

James I Davison's picture

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as optimistically predicted his country’s growth in 2009. Image credit: worldeconomicforum at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
I've seen quite a few stories this week about the World Economic Forum, which is entering its last two days in Davos, Switzerland. Not surprisingly, accounts coming out of the annual meeting have reflected the gloomy state of a global economy in the midst of financial crisis. Seems the event's past reputation of being a party for wealthy people and celebrities has been replaced with politicians, average government workers and others discussing – as the 2009 event has been dubbed – "Shaping the Post-Crisis World."

A story that stuck out at me came from the New York Times, which quoted Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, as optimistically predicting the country’s growth in 2009 at 8 percent. That’s pretty optimistic compared to many other economist predictions – some as low as 4 percent or less for the year.

Cambodia: Can we protect the traditional land of indigenous communities?

Stéphane Guimbert's picture

At the pace of development of Cambodia's economy, the pressure on these indigenous communities has grown quickly.
Last week, I joined a government team traveling to Mondulkiri, a little known province located some 500 km northeast of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This was a long trip not only because of the distance, but also because of the quality of the road during the last couple of hours of the journey (although that will change quickly, as the road is being rehabilitated).

The province is really beautiful, with the road traveling first through a dense jungle and then arriving on more open hilly plateaus. The province has some very nice landscapes, as well as powerful waterfalls such as Boo Sra (see picture). We stayed in the provincial capital, Sen Monorum (which in Khmer means very enjoyable!), at one of the few hotels in the city. The whole province is very sparsely populated, with about two habitants per square kilometer.

Mondulkiri is one of the provinces with the highest proportion of minority groups (in fact "minority groups" are a majority of the population).

Leaving an imprint: Rebuilding the shrimp sector in Aceh, Indonesia

David Lawrence's picture

 

In my 12 years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), I've been involved with a lot of different projects. Many of them were successful, some were not. But none of them were as satisfying as the Aceh Shrimp Project, which closed last month. If you've ever hit a bull's eye when playing darts, imagine that feeling multiplied by 100. That's what this project felt like.

Aceh is an autonomous province on the northern tip of Sumatra, in Indonesia, with a population of 4.2 million. It has a colorful history of resistance: they gave the Dutch colonists major headaches, and fought against the Indonesian government for three decades. In December 2004 the Tsunami struck, leaving 165,000 people dead or missing in the space of 30 minutes. This led to the biggest reconstruction effort in history, including IFC's work to build up the private sector, funded by AusAID (pdf) through its Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development (AIPRD).

Shrimp is a key sector in Aceh, a livelihood for 100,000 people. In the 1990s, Aceh's shrimp sector was slammed by white spot disease, which devastated shrimp harvests.{C}

Regional roundup: Finance in East Asia – Jan. 23

James Seward's picture

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but the bad news keeps coming on the economies in the region.  As the Financial Times just put it, “The Asian Financial Crisis Deepens.”  Thus far, the deteriorating economic performance has not appeared to flow through to the financial sector, but it now seems th

Fiji: After the rain stops, flood damage will continue to affect islanders

Cameron McFarlane's picture

The flooding has resulted in mass cancellation of tourist travel plans, which will flow through to job losses, business failures and ultimately affect families already suffering from the direct impact of the floods.
Last week, a tropical depression hit Fiji's main island of Viti Levu and caused a rise in sea levels along with torrential rain and devastating flooding. Flooding in and around the towns of Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Raki Raki and Sigatoka ensued. Several days later a second tropical depression dumped further rain on areas already affected. As of Thursday, the rain was still falling and flood waters continued to rise.

So far, at least 11 people have been reported killed, from drowning and mudslides, though given the isolation of many villages, this number is probably much understated.

As would be expected the immediate impact is widespread damage to infrastructure. Homes, public buildings and businesses have been destroyed with around 10,000 people living in evacuation centres. Roads and bridges have been washed away effectively cutting off access for emergency workers and rescue teams. Electricity and water supplies have been cut and food supplies destroyed, washed away or still underwater.

Regional roundup: Finance in East Asia – Jan. 16

James Seward's picture

Unfortunately, we start this roundup as we did the last – with more economic bad news. Exports dropped 2.8 percent and imports declined 21 percent in China on annualized basis in December. Also, China reported the first slowdown in growth of its foreign reserves since 1998, although reserves still rose by $45 billion in the fourth quarter of last year to about $1.95 trillion. Debate is also now swirling about rate of China’s economic growth for 2009, and even the central bank governor now is publicly setting expectations that the target rate of 8 percent may not be achievable.

Customary forest, coffee growing and dancing on Buton, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Tony Whitten's picture

Four years ago, the Lambusango Forest project started on Buton in Southeast Sulawesi.  Conservation contracts have included introducing village cooperatives to niche markets (for more, see my previous blog post). This film records parts of the final supervision mission:

Considering China's options in weakening global economy

David Dollar's picture

The December export numbers for China showed a 2.8 percent decline from the year before. This was the worst showing in a decade, but better than the 4-5 percent decline expected by the business press. There is still plenty of cause for worry, as economist and blogger Brad Setser wrote in a recent post, "This really doesn’t look good". While Setser is talking about the breath-taking drop in Korean and Taiwanese exports in December, some of those exports normally would be on their way to China for further processing and re-export. So, the grim news from those economies in December probably presages more tough times ahead for China's exports.

In this deteriorating global environment, the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank's Beijing office last week held a seminar with some very good international and Chinese economists to discuss China’s macroeconomic policy options. While the economists had a wide range of views, I took away a pretty strong consensus from them on three things

Regional roundup: Finance in East Asia

James Seward's picture

This is the first blog entry of what I hope to be regular updates from the financial sector and related areas across the East Asia and Pacific region. So, let’s see how the New Year began in Asia.

Unfortunately, the bad news keeps coming on the economies in the region in terms of exports and industrial output. Exports and industrial production fell 6.2 percent in Malaysia in November and exports from Thailand fell 18 percent in November. Surveys of consumer confidence, business sentiment, and manufacturers across the region have all shown significant declines.

The destructive side of goats

Tony Whitten's picture

I hate goats. I’ll admit that I do love the feel of a good cashmere scarf or pullover, and have delighted in sensual cashmere socks I’ve been given. I am also partial to goat curry, goat kebabs, roast goat, and goat in a good wine sauce – though I lose my appetite on seeing a pop-eyed goat’s head staring at me out of a bowl of boiled goat bits at some of the meals I’m offered while on mission. And I do enjoy some nice goat cheese with a crisp cracker and celery.

Still, I hate goats.