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March 2019

The Force of Ideas: Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia turns three

Merza Hasan's picture

 

Our longstanding partnership with Malaysia: Former President of the World Bank, Robert S. Mcnamara with former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak during a visit to Kuala Lumpur in 1971. (Photo Credits: World Bank Archives)



Nearly 75 years ago in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, a group of nations met to discuss the establishment of a global system of cooperation for supporting the economic recovery of countries affected by the Second World War.  The outcome of these deliberations resulted in the creation of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary Fund; and an immediate post-war focus on financing the reconstruction of war-torn countries, particularly in Europe. The first few loans issued by the IBRD were to France, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Can Islamic social finance be the key to end poverty and hunger?

Ahmad Hafiz Abdul Aziz's picture
As the world works toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Islamic social finance provides new options to help mobilize these efforts, in particularly to end poverty and hunger. (Photo: bigstock/Distinctive Images)


In 2015, countries around the world adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Formulated on the principle that no one gets left behind, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has defined the world’s priorities and aspirations for 2030.
 
But to mobilize these efforts, we need to effectively uplift groups at the bottom where poverty plays a main obstacle. Although poverty levels have fallen dramatically since 2000, there are still 783 million people living below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. We may need more creative and effective solutions to end poverty. In the recent 4th Annual Symposium on Islamic Finance in Kuala Lumpur, we discussed how Islamic social finance might just be the key to alleviating poverty and hunger.

E-commerce for poverty alleviation in rural China: from grassroots development to public-private partnerships

Xubei Luo's picture
Also available in: 中文
A young woman is selling products on-line. Photo: Xubei Luo/World Bank

China’s rapid development of e-commerce has begun to reshape production and consumption patterns as well as change people’s daily lives. In 2016, the World Bank and the Alibaba Group launched a joint research initiative to examine how China has harnessed digital technologies to aid growth and expand employment opportunities through e-commerce development in rural areas. The research seeks to distill lessons and identify policy options to enhance the positive effect of e-commerce on the reduction of poverty and inequality. Emerging findings from that research show that rural e-commerce evolves from grassroots development to become a potential tool for poverty alleviation with public-private partnerships.

E-commerce has grown quickly in China. Total e-commerce trade volume increased from less than 1,000 billion yuan (US$120.8 billion) in 2004 to nearly 30,000 billion yuan (US$4.44 trillion) in 2017. While e-commerce is more developed in urban areas, online retail sales in rural areas have grown faster than the national average. From 2014 to 2017, online retail sales in rural China increased from RMB 180 billion to 1.24 trillion, a compound annual growth rate of 91%, compared to 35% nationally.

How can Malaysia realize the potential of its human capital?

Richard Record's picture
To boost productivity and go the next mile in its development path, Malaysia must improve its human capital through better learning and nutritional outcomes and social protection programs. (Photo: Samuel Goh/World Bank)


Anyone who visits Malaysia will quickly come to realize that Malaysians are blessed with enormous talent, ranging from the myriad of entrepreneurs creating new businesses online to those active in the creative industries including music, culture and sports. But there is also still a widespread sense that Malaysia is not making the most of its human capital, with concerns that despite large investments in education and health, the returns are not as high as they should be, and that a large share of Malaysians are still being left behind.

Women at work in East Asia Pacific: Solid progress but a long road ahead

Victoria Kwakwa's picture



East Asia Pacific’s (EAP) strong economic performance over the past few decades has significantly benefited and empowered women in the region, bringing better health and education and greater access to economic opportunities. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are featuring 12 women in the region who embody the advancements women have made in EAP, despite the many barriers that remain for them at work.

Surpassing all other developing regions, EAP’s female-to-male enrollment ratio for tertiary education is currently 1.2, with the ratio of secondary education access nearly equal for girls and boys. But in the workplace, the share of women working in EAP is at 62% versus 78.9% for men, a gap that has not narrowed over the past four years.