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Beyond Infrastructure: Trade Facilitation Priorities for the Belt and Road Initiative

Marcus Bartley Johns's picture
Countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative face a major challenge in facilitating trade. While large investments in trade-related infrastructure capture global headlines, transaction costs generated by inefficient border clearance and trade-related regulatory requirements are one of the major policy risks facing the BRI.
 

World Ozone Day: Taking stock of what it means to stay cool

Emilia Battaglini's picture

Read the Chinese version of this blog



Blogging from the Commemoration event for the 2018 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer in Beijing, China.

Have you suffered heat stress this summer? If not, you were lucky. Depending on where you live and how wealthy you are, a sweltering and humid couple of days can either be an opportunity to catch up with paperwork in an air-conditioned room, or they can literally mean the difference between life and death. Too much heat can kill you.

Maternal Depression and Stunted Children: An Avoidable Reality

Patricio V. Marquez's picture



Accumulated scientific evidence shows that proper nutrition and stimulation in utero and during early childhood benefit physical and mental well-being later in life and contribute to the development of children’s cognitive and socioemotional skills.  Yet, a critical but often overlooked fact in policy design and program development across the world is the association between maternal depression and childhood stunting -- the impaired growth and development measured by low height-for-age.

30 years of working together to solve Shanghai’s most pressing water problems

Sing Cho's picture

Also available in 中文

Cities are growing at a staggering rate, changing our world beyond recognition. For the first time in history, over half the population -- 55 percent -- lives in urban areas.  By 2050, that number will rise to 68 percent.  This rapid urban growth has given rise to sprawling megacities, many of which are in Asia and Africa.

Perhaps no place epitomizes this trend better than Shanghai. In 1990, the city was still primarily an industrial hub with a population of 13 million. By 2016, the figure had ballooned to 24 million, making Shanghai one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and the financial and economic hub of China. 

No place epitomizes the global trend of urbanization better than Shanghai. 

Deploying disruptive technologies to reshape the future of cities

Wanli Fang's picture


As an urban dweller in Beijing, a rapidly modernizing city, my daily life would look like a science-fiction movie for people from just a few decades ago. I use my mobile phone to buy groceries, pay for meals, take photos, access the subway, and find my way to unknown places.

Cooking helped us survive… modern energy cooking services can make us thrive

Yabei zhang's picture
About 30 years ago, I lived in a village in China's Xinjiang province where I remember having to collect firewood for cooking and heating as part of my chores. In fact, as part of summer homework, we also needed to turn in a big bundle of firewood when the school started in the fall, which would be used to heat the classroom, together with coal.

Cooking with firewood was not only a tough job because of all the smoke but also required skills and experience. If the fire was not well controlled, the rice could be easily burned. Before I was old enough to take on this job, our family moved to a city apartment with access to district heating and we also started to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking. Since then, our daily life has been transformed.
 
However, not everyone is as lucky as me. 

Exposure of Belt & Road Economies to China Trade Shocks

Paulo Bastos's picture
The Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative seeks to deepen regional integration by improving infrastructure and strengthening trade and investment linkages along the old Silk Road, from China to Europe. With several infrastructure projects already ongoing, the initiative is expected to progressively reduce trade costs over the coming decades, and hence generate long-run economic gains for B&R economies.
 
Photo: Rob Beechey / World Bank

China’s experience in tackling water scarcity through sustainable agricultural water management

Sing Cho's picture

Water scarcity is a pervasive problem across much of China. By the numbers, per capita water resources stand at only 2,100 cubic meters, which is one-fourth of the global average. Population growth, agricultural demands, and the adverse impacts of climate change further compound the challenge.
 
As China moves to secure water for all and provide a foundation for continued sustainable social, economic, and environmental development, there are many important lessons that have global relevance and application. 

The miracle of mangroves for coastal protection in numbers

Michael W. Beck's picture
© Ursula Meissner/The Nature Conservancy
© Ursula Meissner/The Nature Conservancy

The North Atlantic hurricane season officially opens June 1, and there are predictions that storms this year could be worse than average again. That would be bad since last year was the costliest year on record for coastal storms. Communities and countries across the Caribbean and SE USA were particularly hard hit. The need for resilient solutions to reduce these risks is paramount.

There has been growing though largely anecdotal evidence that mangroves and other coastal habitats can play important roles in defending coastlines. Nonetheless it has been difficult to convince most governments and businesses (e.g., insurance, hotels) to invest in these natural defenses in the absence of rigorous valuations of these benefits.

So in 2016 The Nature Conservancy teamed with the World Bank and scientists from the public, private and academic sectors to identify how to rigorously value the flood protection benefits from coastal habitats. In short, we recommended that we value this ecosystem service by adopting tools and from the engineering, risk and insurance sectors and following an Expected Damage Function (EDF) approach. This approach assesses the difference in flooding and flood damages with and without coastal habitats such as mangroves across the entire storm frequency distribution (e.g., 1-in-10, -25 and -100 year storms).

Spatially awhere: Bridging the gap between leading and lagging regions

Sameh Wahba's picture


As the world urbanizes rapidly, international experience has shown that economic activities concentrate in a relatively small number of places – it is estimated that only 1.5% of the world’s land is home to about half of global production.

Such economic concentration is a built-in feature of human settlement development and a key driver of growth. However, while some countries have succeeded in spreading economic benefits to most of their citizens, many other countries have not.

Especially outside the economic centers that concentrate production, there are “lagging areas” with persistent disparities in living standards and a lack of access to basic services and economic opportunities.

Today, over two billion people live in such lagging areas. Over one billion people live in underserved slums with many disparities from the rest of the city in terms of access to infrastructure and services, tenure security, and vulnerability to disaster risk. A further one billion people live in underdeveloped areas with few job opportunities and public services.

How can countries address the division between the leading and lagging regions?

As discussed at the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we at the World Bank Group are taking an integrated territorial approach through a “spatially awhere” lens to tackle the land, social, and economic challenges altogether.

[Download: World Bank publications on urban development]


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