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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

OECD Observer
Don’t forget corruption

“The crisis should not divert attention from the fight against corruption.  Mark Pieth, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, talks to Lyndon Thompson about the need to keep the ball rolling.

Mark Pieth is the affable, soft-spoken chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. He has held the post for more than 20 years, during which time he also served on the committee charged with investigating the Iraq Oil-for- Food Programme and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, headquartered at the OECD in Paris, and most recently as an advisor on the Integrity Board of the World Bank.”  READ MORE

Are Emerging Markets Leading the Way in Job Creation?

Otaviano Canuto's picture

Photo: Wiki Commons User_KozuchWith a few exceptions, industrialized nations are still struggling with unemployment, unable to recover completely from the 2008 economic crisis. In the U.S. things seem to be improving as the unemployment rate fell in January to 8.3 percent, its lowest level since early 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cleaner Bricks for Better Air Quality in Dhaka

Maria Sarraf's picture

Dhaka. Chittagong. Khulna. Just a handful of cities where construction is booming. In Bangladesh, the construction sector is driven by a single fuel: bricks. But making bricks is not neat. It is messy and backbreaking. In Bangladesh, most bricks are manually made from mud, and then burnt in kilns. Workers have to use hammers to break up tons of coal every day. Then they carry the coal on their shoulders to the ovens used to fire bricks. There are more than 4,500 traditional kilns in Bangladesh that operate this way.

The country’s capital, Dhaka, is surrounded by more than 1,200 kilns. Most kilns operate only 6 months during the year (between November and April). Because more than 90% are located in low-lying areas which experience flooding during the rainy season. During the 6 months of operation, Dhaka becomes one of the most polluted cities in the world. Every day, the chimneys blow black smoke that clouds the city’s sky. The smoke is dense and contains fine particulates, which are very damaging to health. They cause no less than 20 percent of the premature deaths related to urban air pollution in Dhaka. 

How long can the country afford to make bricks in this way? The current status is by no means sustainable. To make 100,000 bricks, one needs to burn 20 tons of coal, which has high sulfur content. China, the world’s leading brick producer, uses only 6 tons of coal to make the same amount of bricks. China’s experience suggests that adopting cleaner and more energy-efficient technologies is key to success.

Metrics for success in the post-Arab Spring era

Omer Karasapan's picture
An issue that often comes up both within the Bank and outside is how one identifies the metrics to measure whether our countries are on the path to “inclusive” and “sustainable” growth as they move away from the old regimes and their crony-friendly and often wasteful policies and programs. Well, be careful (grateful?) for what you ask for…the metrics are on their way and spot on when it comes to issues around the transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Infrastructure for Jobs in Tough Times

Caroline Freund's picture
The recently released Global Economic Prospects report cautions that a second global financial crisis emanating from the Eurozone is a serious threat. Among the policy recommendations for developing countries is to prioritize infrastructure spending, even in a tight budgetary environment, because of its importance as stimulus and for long-term growth. We couldn’t agree more. This is especially relevant for many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where domestic uncertainty has already lowered short-run economic prospects and unemployment is on the rise. A forthcoming report (click here for summary), shows that investment in infrastructure contributes significantly to job creation in MENA.

Creating a level playing field

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Throughout the slums of this world, poor children are dreaming of becoming football stars and playing in the World Cup. Some of them from Kibera—Kenya’s largest slum—had a shot last weekend, when the International School of Kenya hosted the third “Mini World Cup”.

The event involved more than sixty teams made-up of Kenyan and international children from all walks of life. Two teams from Kibera made it to the top eight teams of the tournament, keeping their dream alive to win the “Cup” in one of the next years. The great thing about football is that all teams, no matter what their social background, have an equal opportunity to win. They start on a level playing field, and they all play by the same rules. When the final whistle blows, there is no reason why one of the teams from Kibera should not lift the Mini World Cup next time, just as Ghana’s Black Stars overcame Team USA in the 2010 World Cup, despite the huge disparity in wealth between the two nations.

In economic development, the equivalent of having a level playing field is equality of access to basic services.

Why Gender Matters in Water and Sanitation

Water Communications's picture

Gender plays a crucial role in developing countries’ ability to ensure improved water and sanitation services are delivered to all citizens. According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, when services fail, women and girls are disproportionately affected.

This year, the World Bank/Water and Sanitation Program’s calendar depicts water and sanitation challenges from a gender perspective to call attention to some of the social norms that result from, and reinforce poor service quality. Take a look. Images can convey a thousand words--and speak for billions of people.

Fotopedia, World Bank App Showcases Photos of ‘Women of the World’

Olivier Puech's picture



During the 2011 World Bank Annual Meetings, we decided to give the highest visibility to the topic of gender equality in connection with the World Development Report 2012.

The report details the need of the world to close the big gender gaps that exist in order to pursue a path of true development for many countries. There is global progress, for example, in education.

But in other metrics, the data on gender equality is appalling:

Worldwide, women make up the majority of unpaid workers. And violence against women is still widespread.

Watching People As They Walk

Sina Odugbemi's picture

If you have ever spent time on any major campus, you will be familiar with what I am about to describe. The architects of the campus will usually have laid out paved walkways for pedestrians to use as they move from one building to the other. These prescribed walkways are designed to protect the carefully maintained lawns that major campuses also tend to have, urging pedestrians to refrain from walking on the often gorgeously manicured lawns. If you are familiar with campuses, you also know that people tend to ignore the prescribed walkways. They move around the campus in ways that makes sense to them, even if that means carving ugly footpaths through carefully gardened lawns. The controllers of the environment try to forbid the use of footpaths, but they usually give up after a while. Hence, part of the story of a well-used campus is the network of footpaths, distinct from paved walkways, that sprouts over the years…and remains well-trodden with a stubborn, almost riotous, insistence.

Well-being as seen through the regrets of the dying

Jed Friedman's picture

I recently read a Guardian article on the most common reported regrets from the dying and thought, “oh, that’s a good lead-in for a blog on subjective well-being.” However I see that Nic Marks at the New Economic Foundation beat me to the punch, so I link his insightful post. Nevertheless I’ll extend what he starts and add a development perspective…


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