One recent scorching afternoon, a display of colorful squat toilets welcomed curious visitors in the main park of the city of Mataram, in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province.
These visitors were not looking to buy new toilet bowls, nor were they working on home improvement projects. They were among 350 villagers who went ‘shopping’ for ideas and innovations to improve basic services and infrastructure in their home villages.
The 2017 Village Innovation Festival was organized by the provincial government of West Nusa Tenggara, in collaboration with the Ministry of Village's Generasi Cerdas dan Sehat Program.The festival highlighted innovative solutions to address some of the most pressing development challenges faced by village communities.
In 1950, the average working-age person in the world had almost three years of education, but in East Asia and Pacific (EAP), the average person had less than half that amount. Around this time, countries in the EAP region put themselves on a path that focused on growth driven by human capital. They made significant and steady investments in schooling to close the educational attainment gap with the rest of the world. While improving their school systems, they also put their human capital to work in labor markets. As a result, economic growth has been stellar: for four decades EAP has grown at roughly twice the pace of the global average. What is more, no slowdown is in sight for rising prosperity.
High economic growth and strong human capital accumulation are deeply intertwined. In a recent paper, Daron Acemoglu and David Autor explore the way skills and labor markets interact: Human capital is the central determinant of economic growth and is the main—and very likely the only—means to achieve shared growth when technology is changing quickly and raising the demand for skills. Skills promote productivity and growth, but if there are not enough skilled workers, growth soon chokes off. If, by contrast, skills are abundant and average skill-levels keep rising, technological change can drive productivity and growth without stoking inequality.
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Hutan-hutan primer telah lama hilang dari lingkungan desa Teluk Bakung di pinggiran Pontianak, ibukota Kalimantan Barat di Indonesia. Hal ini tampak ketika saya tiba di wilayah tersebut pada akhir November 2016, sebagai bagian dari kunjungan lapangan. Kami melihat bagaimana sebagian besar penduduk desa telah meninggalkan pertanian yang berat di lahan gambut untuk bekerja pada perkebunan-perkebunan besar kelapa sawit dan ladang kelapa sawit mereka sendiri. Yang lain memilih berinvestasi dalam produksi sarang burung yang menguntungkan. Namun mereka melakukannya di tengah-tengah tata kelola penggunaan lahan yang membingungkan: demarkasi batas wilayah kawasan hutan dan wilayah administratif tidak lengkap, sementara kelompok kepentingan masyarakat dan pihak berwenang memperdebatkan sejarah alokasi areal konsesi perkebunan. Kumpulan data publik menunjukkan keragaman penggunaan lahan dan hutan di wilayah tersebut, termasuk cagar alamnya. Namun dalam kenyataannya, hampir seluruh lahan yang ada semakin dikhususkan untuk produksi kelapa sawit.
With the release last month of the latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), it is apparent that many of the highest achieving students in the world are in East Asia.
Just as in the recently released TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) results, Singapore leads the world in every subject in PISA, outperforming other economies and countries by a significant margin. Students in Singapore perform at a level that is up to two years ahead of their regional and OECD counterparts in science, mathematics and reading. Moreover, almost all Singaporean students have reached a basic level of proficiency or higher. And they just keep getting better, having significantly reduced performance below basic proficiency.
Japan also outperforms most participating economies in science, mathematics and reading. However, its score in reading has declined since the last round. Still, as in Singapore, 90% of students have reached a basic level of proficiency or above.
The primary forests have long gone from the surroundings of Teluk Bakung village on the outskirts of Pontianak, the capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province. This was evident when I arrived in the region in late November 2016, as part of a field visit. We saw how most villagers have abandoned the difficult peatlands agriculture to work on large oil palm plantations and their own oil palm fields. Others have opted to invest in lucrative edible bird nest production. But they do so against a backdrop of confusing land-use management: forest estate and administrative boundary demarcation is incomplete, and community interest groups and authorities debate over the historical allocation of plantation concessions. Public data sets show a wide variety of land and forest uses in the area, including reserves. But in reality, virtually all of the land is increasingly being devoted to oil palm production.
Minggu lalu saya berkunjung ke Bogor, 60 kilometer dari Jakarta dan hanya perlu satu jam lima belas menit untuk menuju kesana. Namun, diperlukan waktu tiga kali lebih lama untuk kembali ke Jakarta, karena macet akibat hujan deras.
Di lokasi lain di Jakarta, banjir terjadi di beberapa tempat. Mobil-mobil terjebak semalaman di basement tempat parkir café dan restoran di Kemang – sebuah kawasan terkenal yang sering kebanjiran akibat sistem drainase yang buruk dan kurangnya ruang hijau.
Inilah secuplik kehidupan di Jakarta yang tumbuh pesat, sebuah kawasan metropolitan yang di tahun 2028 bisa menggantikan Tokyo sebagai kota Asia dengan penduduk terbanyak.
Last weekend I visited Bogor, 60 km (37 miles) outside of Jakarta. It only took an hour and fifteen minutes to leave the city. Due to traffic caused by heavy rains, the drive back was almost three times as long.
Elsewhere in Indonesia’s capital, neighborhoods were flooding. Cars were trapped overnight in basement parking lots of the cafes and restaurants of Kemang, a chic neighborhood where a poorly designed drainage system and lack of green space causes recurrent flooding.
Such is life in fast-growing Jakarta, a bustling metropolitan area that looks set to displace Tokyo in 2028 as Asia’s largest city by population.
Berita kebakaran hutan dan lahan bukan hal baru di Indonesia. Tapi drama penyenderaan di tengah “musim kebakaran”? Ini sesuatu yang baru, dan mendominasi deretan tajuk utama pemberitaan di awal September. Setelah mengumpulkan bukti lahan yang terbakar di area konsesi kebun sawit di Rokan Hulu, Riau, tujuh petugas Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK) disandera dan dipaksa menyerahkan atau menghapus bukti yang mereka kumpulkan.
Forest and land fires making the news in Indonesia is nothing new. But a hostage drama in the middle of “fire season”? That’s a new twist, and indeed dominated headlines in early September. After collecting evidence of burned land within a palm oil concession in Rokan Hulu, Riau, seven inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) were taken captive and violently threatened to handover or delete the gathered evidence.
As in much of the rest of the developing world, developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) have made progress in closing many gender disparities, particularly in areas such as education and health outcomes. Even on the gender gaps that still remain significant, more is now known about why these have remained “sticky” despite rapid economic progress.
Ensuring that women and girls are on a level playing field with men and boys is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. It is right because gender equality is a core objective of development. And it is smart because gender equality can spur development. It has been estimated, for instance, that labor productivity in developing East Asia and Pacific could be 7-18% higher if women had equal access to productive resources and worked in the same sectors and types of jobs as men.