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Assessing disaster risk in Europe and Central Asia – what did we learn?

Alanna Simpson's picture
Heavy rains on June 13-14, 2015 caused a 1 million cubic-meter landslide to flow down the Vere River valley and damage the capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Across the Europe and Central Asia region today, policymakers are confronted daily with a wide range of development challenges and decisions, but the potential impacts of adverse natural events and climate change – such as earthquakes or flooding – may not always be first and foremost in their thoughts.

Admittedly, the region does not face the same daunting disaster risks as some other parts of the world – especially in South Asia, East Asia and Latin America – but nevertheless, it is far from immune to the effects of natural hazards – as the past clearly reminds us.

Let’s turn the lights on! The PISA test and FYR Macedonia

Bojana Naceva's picture
 

In 2015, over half a million students—representing 28 million 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies—took the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test. The Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia has participated in international large scale assessments since 1999.

Debates about the country’s performance have always focused on a comparison with other counties’ mean scores; and, after a few days, everyone - including the education authorities – have continued with business as usual.  The available data was rarely used to underpin policy decisions or shape reforms.

The system has operated in the dark for decades.Addressing these challenges requires the mobilization of all available expertise in the country, regardless of political or ethnic affiliation. The time is now, tomorrow may be too late.

Taking stock of progress and prospects in Moldova

Maria Davalos's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский
As the end of a year approaches, we instinctively take stock of what we accomplished and what will make it to our list of resolutions for next year. But, once in a while, it’s good to take a broader view than just year-to-year.

And a recent report does just that! Poverty Reduction and Shared Prosperity in Moldova: Progress and Prospects looks at what Moldova has achieved over the past decade in terms of poverty reduction and inclusive growth, and what the challenges are for the coming years.


 

Bilanțul progreselor și perspectivelor pentru Moldova

Maria Davalos's picture
Also available in: English | Русский

Odată cu apropierea sfârșitului de an, ținem instinctiv să facem bilanțul a tot ce am realizat și tot ce va fi inclus pe lista noastră de rezoluții pentru anul viitor. Însă, uneori, este bine de făcut un bilanț mai amplu, decât doar de la an la an.

Un raport recent face exact acest lucru! Reducerea sărăciei și prosperitatea împărtășită în Moldova: Progrese și perspective examinează ce a obținut Moldova în ultimul deceniu în materie de reducere a sărăciei și creștere incluzivă și care sunt provocările pentru anii următori.

Do the right thing: Tax tobacco!

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский
Both my grandfathers smoked when they were young. My father’s father was a shopkeeper who smoked a pipe and my mother’s father was a smallholder who smoked cigarettes. Both died of heart failure and left my grandmothers as widows. My father grew up as a little boy in an atmosphere of pipe smoke and sometimes I wonder whether this contributed to his asthma and his own heart problems. My mother became a doctor, a cancer specialist, and she always used to tell my brother and me that we should never smoke, because she saw every day what smoking had done to her patients.

It’s not just women that need to support gender equality in the workplace

Ismail Radwan's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский
I was recently awarded the honorary title of “Manbassador” by the Professional Women’s Network (PWN).  PWN is the leading Romanian organization promoting gender equality in the workplace.

In Romania, as in many high-income countries, women have for many years eclipsed men both in terms of numbers of graduates and educational attainment, and yet these advances in education are not matched in the workplace. I hope that all who read this blog will take a moment to think about how they can play a role in supporting women’s empowerment and ending discrimination in the workplace.

The Russian economy inches forward

Apurva Sanghi's picture
Also available in: Русский

During the four months that I have been based in Moscow, one truism about Russia has stood out for me: There is a hunger to know what “truly” goes on in the world’s largest country (by area) and its economy. So any report we publish on Russia gets a lot of attention, and our latest Russia Economic Report is no exception. While we analyzed and discussed many economic issues, here are three noteworthy ones.

Improving fairness, opportunity and empowerment: A view from the South Caucasus

Genevieve Boyreau's picture
Also available in: Русский
I was quite intrigued by the findings of the latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, with its special focus on "Polarization and Populism". As Program Leader for the South Caucasus region, covering Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, I was particularly interested in the fact that these three countries report the highest levels of life and job dissatisfaction, despite declining disparities and overall income improvement in the region (in Georgia, for instance). Indeed, using the World Bank’s "twin goal” metrics, the South Caucasus region has been performing reasonably well.

Metropolitan development is central to Romania’s economic development

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский
Metropolitan development is important for Romania’s growth. An analysis prepared by the World Bank for the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MRDPA) indicates that Romania’s eight largest metropolitan areas (Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara) concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues in the country.

Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of a country, and if these engines do not work well, neither does the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, in Romania, these engines do not function properly, highlights another World Bank analysis prepared for MRDPA. There are only a few cities that have a functional metropolitan public transport system (e.g. Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca), few cities that have prepared spatial plans for the metropolitan area (e.g. Brăila, Brașov, Craiova), and even fewer that have managed to implement projects at the metropolitan level (e.g. Constanța).

What are some of the challenges facing metropolitan areas in Romania?

Positive competition drives better performance

Georgia Harley's picture
We all know that people respond to incentives.
 
Even in the public sector – where pay and conditions are often fixed – there is a growing body of research demonstrating how public sector institutions can systematically motivate their staff to perform better.  (If you’re interested, see a sampling here, here, here, and here and of course the World Development Report: Mind, Society and Behavior.) 

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