- Chris Blattman summarizes a new working paper that shows how legalizing the ivory trade increased ivory smuggling.
- From VoxEU, how to evaluate industrial cluster policies, based on the IADB’s experience.
- From the IADB’s Development that Works blog, a nice description and photos of a simulated patient study that aimed to see whether indigenous women in Peru receive different advice from family planning clinics than mestizo women? No – but the quality of care was bad for both types.
- Econthatmatters does a round-up of the development-related research at the recent association of environmental and resource economists’ conference
- The Economic History Society has started a blog called “The Long Run”, although they only have a post up saying they are starting the blog at the moment.
- development impact links
From the moment the earthquake happened, I was anxious to go to the coastal areas that were most affected. Possibly because of my past life working for a relief agency, where emergencies were an immediate call to action to help those who were, and are, facing so much loss – loss of family and friends, of homes, of livelihoods, of a sense of peace and security. But also a sense of uncertainty to be faced with such loss –to look beyond the tragedy to find the hope. While at the same time, managing the risks for my colleagues and myself of possibly facing another strong replica that might leave us among the disaster.
a longer version of this blog post is available on the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative platform
With Google Trends data showing that searches for the word “blockchain” have exponentially increased, we may be entering the peak of the hype cycle for blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
But here’s the thing: the blockchain is a major breakthrough. That’s because its decentralized approach to verifying changes in important information addresses the centuries-old problem of trust, a social resource that is all too often in short supply, especially amid the current era’s rampant concerns over the security of valuable data. It turns out that fixing that can be a boon for financial inclusion and other basic services delivery, helping to achieve the global objectives laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sorting out hype from reality may depend on how well we identify where institutions that have until now played a role in mediating trust between people are falling short, especially in the key area of money. Deploying the blockchain in those settings to generate secure, decentralized trust could achieve great strides in inclusion and innovation.
What do we mean by decentralized trust? The concept is unfamiliar in part because its converse -- centralized trust – is something that we often take for granted, at least while it’s working. But if we look at the history of transactions since the early barter systems to modern-day digital money exchanges, we can see how different trust protocols for keeping track of our exchanges of value have evolved and how, in each case, centralizing trust within particular institutions has periodically caused problems.
As strategies for dealing with this challenge evolved and as the complexity and frequency of transactions grew, different trust bearers emerged. We went from relying on the memory and discretion of tribal leaders, to central governments issuing currencies in the form of precious metals, to commercial banks acting as trusted intermediaries and issuing their own bank notes, to central banks managing a hybrid system in which sovereign fiat banknotes circulate alongside a debt/credit form of money managed by regulated banks and internal ledgers.
Disproportionately affected by poverty, they represent approximately 5% of the global population, but account for more than 10% of the world’s poor. In some regions and countries, the proportion of Indigenous Peoples among the poor soars to 60-70%.
Community-driven development, an approach to local development that empowers community groups with control over planning and investment decisions, is one way that the Bank is partnering with Indigenous Peoples in places as diverse as Vietnam, Nepal, and Bolivia.
In this video, Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez and Susan Wong discuss how the Bank’s community-driven development approach is uniquely placed to address some of the challenges that Indigenous Peoples face in their fight against poverty.
If you want to learn more about this topic, we invite you to discover our latest Sustainable Communities podcast.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) differ from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in many ways. Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs universally apply to all countries and they are holistic and integrated. Moreover, their delivery is to be achieved by governments, civil society, and the private sector all working together to achieve their success.
The SDGs also recognize the central role of justice in achieving development, with Goal 16 specifically guaranteeing “equal access to justice for all.” Governments, in partnership with other stakeholders, must make necessary national reforms to provide access to justice to the billions who currently live outside of the protection of the law. They must commit to financing the implementation of these reforms and be held accountable for their success.
Regional and sub regional bodies are uniquely placed to assist governments with implementing and monitoring justice commitments made through the SDGs. Learnings from the MDGs show that countries that integrated the MDGs into existing regional strategies were far more successful in meeting the MDGs’ objectives than countries that did not have the support of an existing regional strategy.
Tax administrations in developing countries are increasingly concerned about the persistent problem of loss of tax revenues to the shadow economy, and they often deploy a range of strategies to plug tax leaks and augment revenues. The erosion of the tax base prevents governments from collecting the revenue it needs to provide essential services, such as healthcare, road construction, and education. Nonetheless, it’s a sticky problem: how do you convince business owners to pay taxes?
Some possible answers, bolstered by evidence, include: simplify tax payment and provide incentives to formalize businesses. The World Bank’s Governance Global Practice will hold a conference between June 27-29 in St Petersburg, Russia, to bring together participants from almost 25 countries of the Europe and Central Asia region to discuss these issues under the aegis of the Tax Administrators eXchange of Global Innovative Practices, a peer-learning network of tax administrators. The event will be hosted by experts from the Public Sector Performance division of the practice.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
As water specialists, we care a lot about our clients being able to provide good water service to their customers on a sustained basis, but many utilities in the countries we work for struggle to provide consistent service. Imagine how much more challenging this will become in the next two decades, when two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas.  
Non-Revenue Water (NRW) is water that is placed into a water distribution system and not billed because of leaks or commercial failures. Efficient management of NRW offers significant financial benefits to utilities while bringing economic and environmental benefits to societies around the world. Why, then, does NRW still present governments with such intractable problems?