Syndicate content

Add new comment

Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
 
McKinsey & Company
Productivity in the construction sector has stagnated for decades, with the average capital project reaching completion 20 months behind schedule and 80 percent over budget. Some overruns result from increased project complexity and scale, but another factor also looms large: all stakeholders in the capital-projects ecosystem—project owners, contractors, and subcontractors—have resisted adopting digital tools and platforms. These include advanced analytics, automation, robotics, 5-D building information modeling (BIM), and online document-management or data-collection systems. Meanwhile, companies in sectors ranging from government to manufacturing have significantly reduced costs and schedules by aggressively pursuing digital solutions.

Pollution kills 9 million people each year, new study finds
Washington Post

Dirty air in India and China. Tainted water in sub-Saharan Africa. Toxic mining and smelter operations in South America. Pollution around the globe now contributes to an estimated 9 million deaths  annually — or roughly one in six — according to an in-depth new study published Thursday in the Lancet. If accurate, that means pollution kills three times more people each year than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, with most of those deaths  in poor and developing countries.
 

Localizing the SDGs in Colombia, Indonesia and Kenya
Citiscope

We are approaching the end of year two of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In September 2015, global leaders from 193 countries set a 15-year deadline — by the year 2030 — to reach the SDGs, a roadmap to end poverty, promote equality, protect people and the planet, while leaving no one behind.

Behavioral Insights for Development : Cases from Central America
World Bank Group Publications

Behavioral Insights for Development: Cases from Central America brings together a set of experiences that applied behavioral insights to different areas of public policy—in some cases through randomized control trials, and in others using surveys or behavioral games. These experiences collectively show the promise of public policies that are informed by a better understanding of what drives individual behavior.
 
This Tiny Country Feeds the World
National Geographic
In a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise.  From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne’s production numbers testify to the power of this “precision farming,” as it’s known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne’s fields reliably produce more than 20. That copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the rallying cry “Twice as much food using half as many resources.”

A New Way to Learn Economics
The New Yorker

ith the new school year starting, there is good news for incoming students of economics—and anybody else who wants to learn about issues like inequality, globalization, and the most efficient ways to tackle climate change. A group of economists from both sides of the Atlantic, part of a project called core Econ, has put together a new introductory economics curriculum, one that is modern, comprehensive, and freely available online. In this country, many colleges encourage Econ 101 students to buy (or rent) expensive textbooks, which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more for some hardcover editions. The core curriculum includes a lengthy e-book titled “The Economy,” lecture slides, and quizzes to test understanding. Some of the material has already been used successfully at colleges like University College London and Sciences Po, in Paris. The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.



Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

Follow PublicSphereWB on Twitter