This blog has previously explored the (somewhat rare) involvement of other social science disciplines in development economics research. Now a new book helps move the ball down the field a bit more. Entitled Children and Youth in Crisis, and edited by Mattias Lundberg and Alice Wuermli, the book combines various disciplinary perspectives on the impacts of economic shocks on human development.
A couple of weeks ago some of the original members of the team that helped make the World Bank's data freely accessible and open had an opportunity to meet with the outgoing President of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick; his enthusiasm and commitment to modernizing the World Bank and making it more open has been a key factor in the success of the Bank's Open Data Initiative – and some regard it as a hallmark of his tenure.
He was keen to thank the many people that came together behind the common objective of making the Bank's data easier to find and easier to use. And he had a question for us: what's next? We've posted some thoughts about that before, but what did we tell the President?
Much of what we read and hear discussed about 'emerging trends' in technology use in education is meant largely for audiences in industrialized countries, or for more affluent urban areas in other parts of the world, and is largely based on observations on what is happening in those sorts of places. One benefit of working at a place like the World Bank, exploring issues related to the use of ICTs in education around the world, is that we get to meet with lots of interesting people proposing, and more importantly doing, interesting things in places that are sometimes not widely reported on in the international media (including some exciting 'innovations at the edges').
We are often asked questions like, "What trends are you are noticing that are a bit 'under the radar'?" In case it might be of interest to wider groups and/or provoke some interesting discussion and comment, we thought we'd quickly pull a list of these sorts of things together here.
Last week, British NGO Global Witness published Grave Secrecy, a report on how U.K. registered companies were allegedly used to launder the profits of corruption. Hundreds of millions of dollars passed through the corporate accounts of dozens of shell companies that held bank accounts at Asia Universal Bank (AUB), the largest bank in Kyrgyzstan. Although the report is based on one concrete case of alleged corruption and money laundering in that country, its relevance goes beyond that single example.
It is just one illustration of how money launderers and those involved in large-scale corruption use companies to hold criminal assets whilst ensuring that information on the control of those companies is virtually inaccessible. The essence of those schemes is to parcel out different bits of information on the company to different jurisdictions from which such information can only be obtained with difficulty (so-called secrecy jurisdictions). Indeed, how does one find relevant information on a U.K. company owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands with a company secretary in the Marshall Islands and a director in Panama? Criminal creativity knows no bounds.
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At this stage in the debate about Natural Hazard Management, there is already agreement that so-called "natural" disasters are really due to poor planning or lack of it.
And this is something that has enormous consequences both in terms of lives and material costs. You only have to look at the statement from the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, to fully understand the enormity of the problem.
Now and then we discuss specific communication techniques on People, Spaces, Deliberation that are essential to bringing about change, and in particular, governance reform. CommGAP also produced a series of technical briefs that demonstrate the theoretical underpinnings of communication concepts and tools, including topics such as change management, negotiation, and persuasion. It was therefore a great pleasure when a newly published book entitled Political Writing by Adam Garfinkle was brought to our attention. As Garfinkle points out, political writing is about persuasion. It’s about persuading ideas and policies.
Garfinkle is the founding editor of The American Interest and a former speech writer for two U.S. Secretaries of State, namely, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. His latest book, Political Writing, is based on a course he taught to interns working in politics in Washington, DC. It’s a short and practical how-to guide that introduces the essential skills and rules in how to become a better writer and it covers different forms of political writing, including: the essay; the review; the op-ed; speech-writing, letters, toasts and ceremonials; memoranda; commission reports; and blogs. In addition to rules, each chapter also includes recommended reading and exercises. The book also covers the fundamentals of rhetoric and polemic, and gives us a history lesson of persuasion and language, dating back to the Greek agora. It ends with a philosophy of editing.
Imagine you are running the recruitment process for a government agency and you are trying to attract high quality, public service oriented staff to work in difficult agencies. How should you do this? If you offer higher wages, maybe it will get you higher quality folks, but will you lose public service motivation? And how do you get these high quality folks to go to remote and dangerous areas?
For China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, a huge challenge is balancing growth between the booming coastal areas and the inland areas. We spoke about this and China's labor market with Cai Fang, one of China's most influential economists. Fang describes how efforts to balance growth are affecting China's huge migrant worker population, which typically lacks the formal employment contracts enjoyed by urban workers.
Last week I asked you to send us your questions about the challenges faced by rapidly urbanizing countries. Please see below my video with urban specialist Dean Cira, where he addresses 5 of the many questions received. Dean will follow up soon with a blog post tackling some of your other questions and comments. Thanks!