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October 2012

India’s Informal Workers Form a ‘People’s Economy’

Renana Jhabvala's picture

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In recent years, we’ve seen sweeping change across the world’s economies; formal systems have broken down and become informal. My home region of South Asia is no exception: more than 90 percent of the workforce is made up of informal workers—street vendors, home-based workers, construction workers and smallholder farmers, many of whom aren’t certain of their incomes from week to week.

Radical Openness at TED Global

Sanjay Pradhan's picture

This summer I was invited to speak at the TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on Open Development. As you might know, TED features "Ideas Worth Spreading" and this year's global conference focused on "Radical Openness." This was an opportunity to highlight how the traditional development paradigm is opening up in dramatic ways that allows us to achieve stronger development results. 

Today, many of us the world over are working to open up aid, increase transparency, empower citizens, and connect country practitioners to innovative solutions globally -- all of which moves us towards our goal of eradicating poverty. As per TED practice, this is interwoven with the evolution of my own thinking and experience as a development practitioner, since I was a student in India. I want to invite you to share your own innovations in Open Development.

Longreads: Women and Political Power, Developing Countries Turn to Each Other for Conservation, Skills Are the Test of Progress

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

The new Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum inspired tweets and stories all over the world, including this one in Bloomberg Businessweek highlighting the finding that women represent only 20% of elected officials.  Also check out the gender inequality data visualization in Slate.  Biodiversity and ecosystems popped up on Twitter during the UN biodiversity meeting in Hyderabad, India, in October. While developed countries doubled pledges for conservation, India also made headlines when it announced a $50 million grant to help developing countries preserve biodiversity. The move, along with other examples of recent conservation efforts by emerging countries, hints of a future in which larger developing economies “play a more active role in saving the environment – not just at home, but also abroad,” reports the New York Times blog, India Ink.  With global youth unemployment at critical levels, a new Education for All Global Monitoring Report finds that 20% of young people in developing countries don’t have enough education or skills for work.  Kwame Akyeampong, an Education for All senior policy analyst, looks at the situation for themost vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in his native Ghana in an Al Jazeera opinion piece.  Once available only to paid subscribers, academic research papers are now increasingly accessible through open access publishing, according to a story in The Guardian. “The exponential rise in open access publishing shows no sign of slowing down,” writes Stephen Curry, a professor of structural biology at Imperial College. 

Inside ICRISAT's Seed Banks & Test Fields, Research Is Changing Farmers' Lives

Rachel Kyte's picture

Deep inside the ICRISAT campus just outside Hyderabad, there are two sub-zero rooms that house the seeds of 120,000 plants from over 100 countries and 120,000 chances to change poor farmers' lives. The rows of plastic containers and freeze-dried metallic packages resemble a huge and very cold medicine cabinet.

These seed banks, or genebanks, hold the keys to growing more productive, hardier, healthier food crops that could help feed the 9 billion people who will be living on Earth by 2050. Scientists use the collection to map characteristics that enable individual plants to withstand water shortages, pests, and disease, or increase yields and nutrient levels. Over 800 improved crop varieties have been developed from this seed bank and now grow in 79 countries.

ICRISAT is the international crop research institute for the semi-arid tropics and one of 15 CGIAR research centers. Scientist here work on sorghum, millet, chickpeas, pigeon peas, and ground nuts - the food crops that smallholder farmers from the driest parts of the world depend on for their survival.

A walk through the campus reveals the power and potential of international research.

It’s Arithmetic – even in Armenia!

Souleymane Coulibaly's picture

At a time when all decision-makers around the world can think about is the state of their country’s economy, debt, spending and fiscal stability, one phrase attempts to sum it all up: it’s arithmetic.

In Armenia, it is all about arithmetic too.

Despite the volatility of Armenia’s economy in the twenty years since the country gained independence, effective government reforms led to double-digit growth rates from 2001 to 2007. That ended with the global financial crisis in 2008.

Gas Flaring: Let’s Light Up Homes Rather than the Sky

Rachel Kyte's picture

Gas flaring. Credit: ShinyThings/Creative Commons

Ten years ago, the World Bank and the government of Norway launched an ambitious project to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a source few people thought much about. If you’ve driven past oil fields at night, you’ve seen the flames from gas flaring. But you might not have realized just how much greenhouse gas was being pumped into the dark – and how much of a natural energy resource was being wasted in the process.

Half a dozen major oil companies joined us in 2002 in creating the public-private Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership, and we began working together to reduce the flaring. More than 30 government and industry partners are on board today.

Together, we have achieved a great deal in just the first decade.

Progress in the Corridors at the Convention on Biological Diversity

Rachel Kyte's picture

Elephants. World Bank/Curt Carnemark

Sometimes, international convention meetings can be heart-breakingly slow-moving. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – one of the three conventions born after Rio in 1992 to drive sustainable development – which has been meeting in Hyderabad in India this week, is no exception. I’ve seen tough negotiators from all corners of the Earth emerge from conference rooms wearing pained expressions.

It’s outside the negotiating rooms – where the major topic of the moment is how to mobilize the financial resources needed to meet the CBD’s ambitious Aichi Targets – where things are a lot brighter.

Cost-Effective Conservation

Rachel Kyte's picture

También disponible en español

The success of the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA) drew a crowd here in Hyderabad at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting. This effort by the government of Brazil – supported by the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, WWF, and the German Development Bank (KfW) – is protecting almost 60 million hectares of rainforest, an area roughly the size of France and Belgium combined.

Speakers from the governments of Brazil and Germany, as well as from the GEF and foundations, all agreed that ARPA’s results are impressive: Between 2004 and 2006, ARPA accounted for 37 percent of Brazil’s substantial decrease in deforestation, and the program’s first 13 new protected areas will save more than 430 million tons of CO2 emissions through 2050.

New Pledges Expand GAFSP's Food Security Work in World's Poorest Countries

Rachel Kyte's picture

When you want to put money, ideas, innovation, and hard work together to increase food security, there’s nowhere better than the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program – GAFSP.

Don’t just believe me. Listen to the Rwandan farmers whose now-terraced hillsides are getting higher yields, producing better nutrition, and improving their livelihoods.

Similar stories can be told in Tajikistan, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.

Japan and the Republic of Korea are among those convinced that GAFSP is a good investment in food security. Inspired by a challenge from the Unites States, Japan and South Korea just pledged an additional $60 million to GAFSP at a meeting in Tokyo held in conjunction with the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings.

The United States announced that it was prepared to contribute an additional $1 to GAFSP for every $2 contributed by other donors, up to a total of $475 million.

Why is GAFSP so successful?

A Look at the #whatwillittake Wall in Tokyo

Mehreen Arshad Sheikh's picture

Our global conversation on “What Will It Take to End Poverty” has been woven throughout the 2012 Annual Meetings this week.  As part of the effort, we asked people attending the meetings in Tokyo to pick up a postcard and write down their thoughts about what it will take to end poverty.

Pledging to ‘Bend the Arc of History,’ Kim Outlines Plan for a ‘Solutions Bank’

Donna Barne's picture

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim laid out his vision October 12 for transforming the institution into a “solutions bank” that uses evidence and experience to solve problems and listens more closely to the people coping with economic and social challenges in their daily life.

“… It is time to move from dreaming of a world free of poverty to achieving it,” Dr. Kim said at the opening plenary session of the 2012 Annual Meetings in Tokyo. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Bank’s 188 member countries and Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito.

“It is time to bend the arc of history. With global solidarity underpinned by a relentless drive for results, we can, we must, and we will build shared prosperity and end poverty,” Dr. Kim said.

Résolu à « infléchir l’arc de l’Histoire », le président Jim Yong Kim a appelé de ses vœux une « banque de solutions ».

Donna Barne's picture

Disponible en English, Español, العربية, 中文

Le président du Groupe de la Banque mondiale a présenté sa vision de l’institution, qu’il veut transformer en « banque de solutions » qui exploite données et expérience pour résoudre les problèmes et prête une oreille plus attentive aux individus confrontés au quotidien à des difficultés économiques et sociales.

« … Le moment est venu de transformer le rêve d’un monde sans pauvreté en réalité », a affirmé M. Kim lors de la séance plénière d’ouverture des Assemblées annuelles 2012, le 12 octobre à Tokyo, devant un parterre de représentants des 188 pays membres de la Banque mondiale et en présence du prince héritier Naruhito.
« Le moment est venu d’infléchir l’arc de l’Histoire. En nous appuyant sur la solidarité internationale et sur une volonté farouche de résultats, nous pouvons, nous devons et nous allons éliminer la pauvreté et construire une prospérité partagée », a déclaré Jim Yong Kim.

Jim Yong Kim on ‘Restoring Growth, Spreading Prosperity’ as Annual Meetings Open

Donna Barne's picture

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A few weeks ago, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim started a global conversation on what it will take to end poverty, and invited the public to send him feedback. On the opening day of the 2012 Annual Meetings in Tokyo, he shared some of his own ideas for tackling the problem during a live interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Kim sat down with Jacob Schlesinger, Tokyo bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires., to discuss a variety of concerns--from the need to create jobs and find solutions to climate change, to Dr. Kim’s pledge to ramp up efforts to achieve the Bank’s longstanding goal of eliminating extreme poverty.

On the latter topic, a woman from Ghana asked, “What will happen if poverty ends? What next?”

The Reality About the Land Grab Issue and the World Bank Group

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Today in Tokyo, on the side of our annual meetings where food security is a major issue being discussed, I had a few minutes to join Oxfam's session about land in developing countries.

I made the point that one of the best ways to help manage pressure on land is through the Bank Group's staying engaged in agriculture, working to build good practices and capacity in countries to manage investments better. As a result, we are saying no to Oxfam's call for a freeze on our work.

In fact we have ramped up our investments in agriculture in recent years, helping smallholders increase productivity, reduce waste, and get clear land tenure, and we want to do more.  It was reassuring to hear from Oxfam directly that the Bank is not the primary target of their efforts. That's good because the vast majority of our agricultural investments help poor farmers grow food and involve no land purchase.

Near Epicenter of Japan’s Earthquake, a New Push to Make ‘This World Safer’

Donna Barne's picture

On a grassy coastal plain near Sendai, Japan, stands a symbol of survival.

The four-story school house was the tallest building in the neighborhood of 980 homes, where children once played and went to school but now mostly consists of the remnants of concrete housing foundations. In Japan’s March 11, 2011 disaster, more than 300 people made it onto the roof of Arahama Elementary and survived the massive tsunami that hit Japan’s shores. School and community evacuation drills and preparedness saved lives that day, Principal Takao Kawamura said.

The school’s experience resonated at the Sendai Dialogue on October 10—where leaders, disaster and development experts debated how to better prepare for disasters in an increasingly risky world, where disasters have doubled in 30 years.

Jim Yong Kim Opening Press Conference at Annual Meetings 2012

Maureen Hoch's picture

As the 2012 Annual Meetings opened Thursday, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim held a press briefing and fielded questions on a range of topics including the role of emerging economies, food prices, climate change, and more.

Read a full transcript of Dr. Kim's press conference, view photos and watch a video report below.

Follow the Annual Meetings on World Bank Live and on hashtag #wblive.

At TEDxSendai, Stories, Ideas, and Hope on Resilience After Disaster

Ravi Kumar's picture

SENDAI, JAPAN | When natural disasters hit, the bonds of community are what fuel the push to rebuild.

Governments and others should help instill resiliency into the social fabric of communities – in addition to the usual resources -- so that when disasters happen, recovery is within reach.

That was the message echoed by several speakers at TEDxSendai, a dialogue on natural disasters set amid an area of Japan hard hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Closing the Gap for Women in Business

Caroline Anstey's picture
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woman in businessA woman works in a small shop in Ghana.
Photo by Arne Hoel

What will it take for the world to wake up and realize the advantages of supporting women entrepreneurs in the developing world?

If that sounds like an odd question to be asking in the 21st century, just consider some facts. We know that globally women make up almost half the world’s workforce. And we know that in developing economies, 30-40% of entrepreneurs running small or medium sized businesses are women.

But here’s something you may not know – at least 9 out of 10 women-owned businesses have no access to loans. So, just imagine the frustration of a woman in a developing country, who has started a small business, is attracting a good clientele, has a business plan to grow her business, but can’t get a loan to expand. That's not an isolated story. It’s a frustration shared by many women in the developing world. And the frustration of those women sounds echoingly similar to the frustration still lingering in the voices of older women from rich countries, telling how some three decades ago they were refused bank home loans, despite having a guaranteed income.

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5 Tips on Starting a Social Movement

Jim Yong Kim's picture
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At the World Bank Group, we want to help create a social movement to end poverty and to enhance shared prosperity. But how do you do that? More broadly, how do you start any social movement?

It's not easy. The world is littered with failed attempts. The roadblocks are numerous - including skeptics casting doubt, saying the task is impossible and that others have tried and failed. Why spend time on a futile endeavor? Even if Albert Camus thought he was happy, Sisyphus never did get the boulder to the top of the mountain.

But in nearly three decades of working to fight poverty, I have come to conclude that optimism in the face of seemingly intractable problems is a choice. If your cause is just and you are working in an institution with the means to truly make a difference in the lives of the poor, optimism of the spirit is a moral responsibility.

Russia: a Study in Numbers

Kaspar Richter's picture

Is Russia’s economy just about to shift a gear downwards?

In the decade before the global financial crisis, Russia’s growth averaged 7 percent, thanks to rising oil prices, rapid credit expansion and policy reform. Then, after the economy took a nosedive in 2009, Russia rebounded to growth above 4 percent even though the global economy was sluggish and the euro area soon went back into a recession.

But now, as we begin the final three months of 2012, Russia’s economy is settling onto a lower growth trajectory. In our new Russian Economic Report, we project that Russia will grow only 3.5 percent this year. Excluding the crisis years of 1998 and 2009, this would be the lowest rate in a decade and a half.

2.3 Million Lives Lost: We Need a Culture of Resilience

Rachel Kyte's picture
Also available in: العربية

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By 2050, the urban population exposed tos torms and earthquakes alone could more than double to 1.5 billion.

Looking at communities across our planet, there is a brutal lack of resilience in our modern lives. Cities have expanded without careful planning into flood- and storm-prone areas, destroying natural storm barriers and often leaving the poor to find shelter in the most vulnerable spots. Droughts, made more frequent by climate change, have taken a toll on crops, creating food shortages.

In the past 30 years, disasters have killed over 2.3 million people, about the population of Houston or all of Namibia.

Live Webcasts During World Bank Annual Meetings 2012: A Viewer's Guide

Maureen Hoch's picture

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What will it take to end poverty?

The 2012 Annual Meetings and related events begin in Japan on October 9. We've compiled a guide here to some of the LIVE webcasts happening during the meetings. From wherever you are around the world, you can also follow the conversation all week via #wblive on Twitter.

Several webcasts will be available in multiple languages. Watch them live, follow live tweeting and find coverage throughout the meetings in Arabic, English, French, Japanese, and Spanish. You'll find photo coverage on Flickr and videos on YouTube.

We also invite you to take part in our global conversation: #whatwillittake to end poverty? We are hearing from people around the world about what they think it will take to end poverty, expand prosperity, and improve their communities.

We hope you join us online for the Annual Meetings and share your ideas via #whatwillittake.

We’ve listed below several of the language options for panels and sessions – you can also watch webcasts in Japanese for many of the Annual Meetings events.

What Sparks Change? How Can We End Poverty?

Jim Yong Kim's picture
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What will it take to end poverty?What inspires change? What has impact on policy? What really motivates us to do social good?

Here’s one story from my past that I’ll never forget.

In 1987, Dr. Paul Farmer and I and a few others helped start a group called Partners in Health to provide access to quality health care to the poor. In the beginning, the majority of our work was centered in Haiti. Seven years later, in 1994, we set up a program in Carabayllo, a settlement on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.

We began our program in Peru because a good friend of ours -- Father Jack Roussin – said we must. He said the area needed a much stronger primary health system, and so we helped build a cadre of community health workers. Our organization there, Socios en Salud, worked to improve the health care of people in the community, employed 20 local young people, built a pharmacy, and then conducted a health assessment for the town.

Then Father Jack became ill. He started losing weight. I urged him to return to his home in Boston. When he finally did, tests revealed that his lungs were full of tuberculosis (TB). And it wasn’t any TB. It was multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). His disease was resistant to the four major drugs used to treat TB. Soon after, Father Jack died.

We went back to Carabayllo and investigated. Why did he have drug-resistant TB? We found an alarming number of cases of MDR-TB. We did two things: First, we immediately started looking for supplies of the drugs that could treat TB cases we discovered. We gave those to patients, and to our great relief we were able to cure most of them. Second, we started to push for a global program to treat poor people everywhere suffering from drug-resistant TB.