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August 2018

Building bridges: cities helping cities achieve more – a Romanian-Japanese partnership

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
The central square of the old town. Brasov
Photo: The central square of the old town. Brasov. Transylvania. By Ann Stryzhekin/ Shutterstock
When U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Yokohama in 1854, it was a backwater village in Japan with a largely rural, relatively undeveloped economy. But it soon grew to an urban agglomeration with around 3.7 million people. Since then, Yokohama has managed to continuously reinvent itself – from a port city, to a large industrial area, and now to a modern, global service and lifestyle hub.
 
Within a century, Japan would become the world’s second largest economy. Its growth has been fueled by cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Kobe. Japanese cities can offer a myriad of lessons to their counterparts in developing countries.
 
Japanese cities are also at the forefront of dealing with some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For example, cities like Osaka and Toyama have developed a number of tools to address the social issues caused by rapid aging. Most developed and developing cities in the world will face similar challenges in the years to come. Providing a platform where these cities can learn from the experience of Japanese cities may lead to significant development impact.
 
Supported by a partnership between the World Bank and Japan, the Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) does just that.

Leaving No One Behind - SOGI, Data, and the World Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework

Maninder Gill's picture
Leaving No One Behind - Photo: Jake Fagan/ World Bank
Photo: Jake Fagan/ World Bank.
Today, I’m participating in the “Leaving No One Behind” conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and reflecting on what it takes to do just that – to ensure no one is left behind.

The fact that this conference is about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and how governments and development institutions can address exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), causes me to reflect on those who have to face this stigma because they do not conform to the expectations of society.

Too often, the world can feel like a harsh and non-inclusive place for people who don’t fit others’ ideas of how they should look, think, speak, feel, behave – how they should “be”.  I firmly believe that this has real impacts on individuals, communities, and economies.

However, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide great opportunity for more inclusive development – opportunity for a seismic change in human development.  After all, the overarching principle adopted with the SDGs is the theme of today’s conference – “leaving no one behind”.  Whether it’s the SDGs, or the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity, I strongly believe that these lofty goals can only be achieved through economic and social inclusion of the most marginalized.

Why cultural heritage matters for urban resilience

Barbara Minguez Garcia's picture

Across the disaster risk management community, there is growing recognition that protecting cultural heritage is fundamental to urban resilience. Traditional knowledge embedded in cultural heritage, such as historical evacuation routes or shelters, can help societies cope with natural hazards. Moreover, when these hazards disrupt cultural heritage sites, such as museums, monuments and places of worship, they often cause irreparable damage to people’s cultures, identities and livelihoods.

A case in point is last year’s devastating earthquake in central Mexico, which damaged over 1,500 historic buildings, including the 250-year-old Church of Santa Prisca, one of the country’s grandest and most beloved churches. Mexico is one of a number of countries that have undertaken major efforts to protect cultural heritage sites, including through its Plan Verde, which works to reduce seismic and other disaster risks in Mexico City’s historic center.

On the sidelines of the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum, which was aptly held in Mexico City, Giovanni Boccardi, Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit for the Culture Sector of UNESCO, made the case that much more needs to be done to put cultural heritage front and center in the disaster risk management agenda.