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April 2016

How can small island states become more resilient to natural disasters and climate risk?

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Small Island States are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and natural disasters. In fact, 2/3 of the countries that have been most severely impacted by disasters are small island nations, which have lost between 1 and 9% of GDP annually due to weather extremes and other catastrophes. The severity and recurrence of disasters makes it hard for those countries to recover, and seriously undermines ongoing development efforts.
 
The World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) are actively working with small island states to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and climate risk, including through their joint Small Island States Resilience Initiative. World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez and GFDRR's Sofia Bettencourt tell us more.

Remnants of the Soviet past: Restrictions on women's employment in the Commonwealth of Independent States

Alena Sakhonchik's picture
Also available in: Русский


My father is a long-distance trucker based in Belarus. As a young girl, I spent long hours on the road with him. I loved traveling to neighboring and faraway cities and—even though I could barely reach the pedals at the time—dreamed of becoming a truck driver myself one day. Life ended up taking me on another path, but it wasn’t until I was older that I learned that the option of being a truck driver was never open to me to begin with.

Why?

Because my native country prohibits women from being truck drivers, one of the 182 professions out of bounds for women.

Global wheat breeding returns billions in benefits but stable financing remains elusive

Juergen Voegele's picture


What do a chapati, a matza, or couscous have in common? The answer is wheat, which is a source for one-fifth of the calories and protein consumed globally.

Yet, stable, assured funding for public research for this important food grain remains elusive.

For 45 years, world-class scientists from two research centers of CGIAR – the world’s only global research system that focuses on the crops of most importance to poor farmers in developing countries – have battled the odds to provide wheat and nourish the world’s growing population. Their innovations have helped to boost wheat yields, fight debilitating pests and ward off diseases, improving the lives of nearly 80 million poor farmers.
 
Wheat plays a big role in feeding the human family. Over 1.2 billion resource-poor consumers depend on wheat as a staple food.

Innovation and the World Bank

Adarsh Desai's picture
Many in the development community believe that innovation is increasingly becoming important to achieve development outcomes. A consortium of development agencies, including the World Bank Group, jointly launched ‘A Call for Innovation in International Development’, at the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, last year.

Researching violence against Syrian refugee women

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español

He often used a stick or an iron wire to beat her. Her body was covered in bruises, sometimes in all kinds of colors. Hamada's husband, frustrated with losing his son and his job in warring Syria, directed his anger and depression towards the mother of his children.

It is a fact: War is one of many forms of violence to which women are subjected, and for some Syrian refugee women it is a prolongation of what has been happening already in their war-torn country.

They have been beaten, forced into having sex and asked to never talk about it or else get killed — by their own husbands.

For the helpless women, most of whom are mothers, the abuse has been taking physical, emotional and sexual forms.

So how do you address and understand the reasons behind this major, often undermined, issue that adds to the misery of the already miserable women refugees?
 

 Shutterstock

A team of researchers working with the Women and Health Alliance International non-profit organization is working on formative research to prevent intimate partner violence among Syrian refugees in Izmir, Turkey.

"Often, from a worldwide perspective, when we think about conflict, we think about the forms of violence that are highlighted in the media," said team member Jennifer Scott, a physician and researcher at Harvard Medical School.

"But what we are not talking about is what is happening in the household, and the types of violence that are related to stress, cultural norms, or social and gender norms," she added. 

To address this issue, Scott and her team talk with men, women, community leaders, policymakers and religious leaders. They ask questions about what is happening in the household, what sorts of violence women and girls experience, and how has this changed as a result of conflict and displacement.

The goal, she said, is to understand that this kind of violence does not have one dimension.

"It's really multiple layers that we need to understand," Scott said. "In our experience as researchers, when we offer women and men the opportunity to speak, they want to talk about it because it's a very important issue."  

The research project, set to start in June 2016, will take place at a community center in Izmir that offers services not only to Syrian refugees but also other refugees currently living in Izmir. The project will conduct focus group discussions and interviews among community and religious leaders to examine some of the factors that lead to intimate partner violence, and explore possible solutions.

The research data will inform the development of a future program to prevent intimate partner violence among displaced populations.

The World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative recently awarded this project and eight other teams from around the world a total of $1.2 million in recognition of their innovations to prevent gender-based violence.
 

Taxing tobacco and the new vision for financing development

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

As part of the 2016 World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings held this past week in Washington, D.C., a fascinating panel discussion, A New Vision for Financing Development, took place on Sunday, April 17. Moderated by Michelle Fleury, BBC's New York business correspondent, it included World Bank Group President Jim Yong KimBill Gates, Justine Greening (UK Secretary of State for International Development), Raghuram Rajan (Governor of the Reserve Bank of India), and Seth Terkper (Minister for Finance and Economic Planning of Ghana).
A construction worker takes a break in Timor-Leste. © Alex Baluyut/World Bank The panel was in consensus about the current challenging economic and social environment facing the world as a whole.  That environment includes low rates of economic growth across the world, drastic reductions in the price of commodities that are impacting negatively low-and middle-income countries, rising inequality, frequent natural disasters and pandemics, increased number of displaced populations and refugees due to conflict and violence spilling across national borders and continents, and the ambitious United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A question debated in the panel was, Where will the resources be found to address these challenges? This question is critical under the current scenario if countries are to continue to build on the progress achieved over the last decade and maintain previous gains.

Bill Gates talks about ‘game-changers’ in financing development

Donna Barne's picture

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, and UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening. © Simone McCourtie/World Bank

What would be a game-changer for achieving some of the world’s most difficult goals — such as ending poverty and hunger and making sure every child gets a quality education?

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates came to the World Bank Group Spring Meetings to answer that question in a thought-provoking conversation about how to finance development for greater impact.

Jordan’s queen and high-level officials urge rapid solutions to refugee crisis

Donna Barne's picture
Also available in: Español | Français | العربية

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Queen Rania of Jordan. © Grant Ellis/World Bank

Jordan’s Queen Rania and other high-ranking officials said Friday that the world needs a new approach to deal with historically high numbers of forcibly displaced people.

“This is a global crisis, and we’re deluding ourselves if we think it can be contained,” the queen said at the World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, where forced displacement is a top issue on the agenda amid a refugee crisis that has spread from the Middle East into Europe over the last year. 

Queen Rania said Jordan has received 1.3 million Syrian refugees over the past five years. The influx has been a “demographic shock that is exhausting our social and physical infrastructure to its absolute limits,” she said. International contributions have made up less than a third of Jordan’s expenses.

To end poverty, there must be digital connectivity for all

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | 中文

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

If everyone had Internet access, then everyone would have a fair shot at financial stability and an education, right?

If only it were so easy.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim led a meeting of some of the top minds in global development to talk about the U.S. State Department’s Global Connect Initiative. The goal: to get 1.5 billion people online by 2020.

Panama Papers underscore need for fair tax systems

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture

High-rises and hotel buildings in Panama City, Panama. © Gerardo Pesantez/World Bank

The so-called “Panama Papers” scandal reminds us that concealing wealth and avoiding tax payments is neither uncommon nor — in many cases — illegal. But the embarrassing leak exposes something else: The public trust is breached when companies, the rich and the powerful can hide their money without breaking the law. If this breach is left unaddressed, those who aren’t rich enough to hide money will be less willing to pay and contribute to the social contract in which taxes are exchanged for quality services.

As finance minister in my home country of Indonesia, I saw firsthand how a weak tax system eroded public trust and enabled crony capitalism. Shadow markets arose for highly subsidized fuel, family connections secured jobs, and bribes helped public servants beef up their salaries. Tax avoidance among the elites was common and the country couldn’t mobilize the resources we needed to build infrastructure, create jobs, and fight poverty.

Four months after Paris, renewed urgency on climate action and financing

Donna Barne's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim speaks with Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the G20’s Financial Stability Board. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The world must move quickly to fulfill the promise of the climate change agreement reached in Paris four months ago and accelerate low-carbon growth, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said on the opening day of the Spring Meetings.

More than 190 countries came together last December to pledge to do their part to halt global warming. The result was an unprecedented agreement to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5° C.  

Why investing in forests is money—and time-- well spent

Tone Skogen's picture
Also available in: Português
Togo_Andrea Borgarello / World Bank

It is widely acknowledged that reducing emissions from deforestation could bring about one-third of the greenhouse gas emission reductions we need by 2030 to stay on a 2-degrees trajectory. But protecting and managing forests wisely does not only make sense from a climate perspective.  It is also smart for the economy. Forests are key economic resources in tropical countries. Protecting them would increase resilience to climate change, reduce poverty and help preserve invaluable biodiversity.

Here are just a few facts to illustrate why forests are so important. First, forests provide us with ecosystem services like pollination of food crops, water and air filtration, and protection against floods and erosion. Forests are also home for about 1.3 billion people worldwide who depend on forest resources for their livelihood. Locally, forests contribute to the rainfall needed to sustain food production over time. When forests are destroyed, humanity is robbed of these benefits. 

The New Climate Economy report shows us that economic growth and cutting carbon emissions can be mutually reinforcing. We need more innovation and we need more investments in a low carbon direction. This requires some fundamental choices of public policy, and the transformation will not be easy. However, it is possible and indeed the only path to sustained growth and development. If land uses are productive and energy systems are efficient, they will both drive strong economic growth and reduce carbon intensity.

Already, the world's large tropical forest countries are taking action. 

A visit from Michelle Obama and a $2.5 billion pledge to ‘let girls learn’

Donna Barne's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español
Michelle Obama Excited by World Bank 2.5 Billion Pledge for Girls Education


U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama brought her passion for girls’ education and a powerful message to a packed World Bank atrium just ahead of Spring Meetings: Support education for adolescent girls, because it’s one of the smartest investments any country can make.

She was talking to the right audience — finance and development ministers entrusted with crucial spending decisions, development experts, and leaders from civil society, the private sector, and the media.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim praised Obama as a “tremendous champion for the rights of girls and women.” He announced that the Bank Group would invest $2.5 billion over five years in education projects directly benefiting adolescent girls. 

For forests, a change in attitude in favor of indigenous communities

Myrna Kay Cunningham Kain's picture
Also available in: Español | Português
Girl. Panama. Gerardo Pesantez-World Bank
In 2015, more than 500 million hectares of forests were held by indigenous peoples.  Despite the increase in forest area designated for and owned by indigenous peoples in recent decades, governments still administer 60 percent of these forest areas while firms and private individuals administer 9 percent. Pressure exerted by indigenous peoples over the past few decades has led to a 50 percent increase in forest areas recognized as being owned or designated for use by indigenous communities. The greatest strides have been made in Latin America and the Caribbean, where indigenous peoples control 40 percent of forest land. Similar trends have been observed in other regions across the globe.  

For the indigenous peoples who have always lived in the forests, these areas represent their space for cultural reproduction, food production, and spiritual security. For governments and companies, forests contain major assets for food production, economic development, security, climate change mitigation, carbon sequestration, water, minerals, and gas extraction. Added to these divergent views on forest ownership and use is the proliferation in recent decades of conflicts over territorial control and forest resources. Growing international demand for commodities (minerals, hydrocarbons, soybeans, and other basic agricultural products) has fueled greater economic activity linked to the development of forest resources. However, this progress has come at a price: adverse environmental impacts, the reclassification of spaces, and the dispossession of the rights, interests, territories, and resources of indigenous peoples (ECLAC 2014).  

In this context, a question arises: What is contributing to the behavioral change, both at the country and global levels, which leads us to conclude that a reversal in the situation has begun?

PabsyLive springs into Meetings

Etta Cala Klosi's picture
PabsyLive It’s that time of the year again. Each of us has our own personal spring rituals: spring cleaning, gardening, festivals, races, or baseball. But here at the World Bank multimedia department, warmer weather and cherry blossoms means it’s time to haul out banners, design graphics, and produce videos in advance of the Spring Meetings. The meetings are for the governors of the World Bank Group and IMF, but they’ve expanded to encompass all the best and brightest ideas about development, innovation, and improving lives.

We live in a fast-changing world, so we spend a lot of time trying to come up with new and exciting ways to inform people about the World Bank Group’s goal to end extreme poverty, and we especially want to engage young people. So that’s why, last year, we introduced PabsyLive. It’s a web-based video series aimed at increasing awareness about the World Bank Group with young online audiences around the world. Our colleague, Michelle ‘Pabsy’ Pabalan, who manages our YouTube channel, interviews speakers, experts, and VIPs with some pretty disarming questions and a lot of offbeat personality.

‘Preferential option for the poor’ at the World Bank?

Dani Clark's picture
On April 6, in the chapel hall of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim shared insights on the moral foundations that guide his personal philosophy and work to end poverty. The setting had special significance for Kim, whose mother studied philosophy there in the 1950s with theologians Paul Tillich and Rienhold Niebuhr.
 

It will take innovation and counterintuitive approaches to #EndPoverty

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: العربية | Español | Français | 中文

The path to ending poverty is strewn with familiar obstacles: poor sanitation, gender inequality, lack of financial access. You’ve heard of them all. But solutions often come from the most unexpected things.

Take toilets and drones, for example.  

In India, poor sanitation causes 1 out of 10 deaths a year. The solution? Encouraging every home to have a toilet, and educating citizens on the importance of proper sanitation. The Indian government has launched an unusual campaign called No Toilet, No Bride. The campaign encourages the growing trend that grooms offer toilets as a part of a dowry. Having a safe and sanitary place to relieve oneself leads to a cleaner environment, improving the quality of water and helping people enjoy better overall health. People in good health are better able to work and study, which means a greater chance at keeping up at school and ultimately achieving financial prosperity. #ItsNotOnly a toilet, it’s a path to better health.








 

Spring Meetings webcasts feature Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, John Kerry, economy, climate change, and more

Donna Barne's picture

2016 Spring Meetings Live Events

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among the featured speakers at the first major gathering of the world’s finance and development leaders in 2016 – the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.

The global economy, climate change, refugees, and the digital divide are just a few of the topics on the agenda in the lead-up to the meetings the week of April 11. We’re webcasting 19 events in multiple languages featuring government ministers, experts, and CEOs.

Tune in Wednesday for a special event with Obama on educating adolescent girls. Later, the World Bank’s top economists will weigh in on economic growth in turbulent times, and Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization co-hosts a session on bringing mental health issues out of the shadows. 

In the face of disaster, resilient communities are just as important as resilient infrastructure

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
What does it take to prevent or mitigate the impact of natural disasters?
 
For many, disaster resilience is all about better infrastructure, efficient early warning systems, and stronger institutions. While those aspects are obviously crucial, we shouldn’t overlook the role of communities themselves in preparing for and responding to disasters. After all, the success of both preparedness and recovery efforts depends largely on local residents' ability to anticipate risk, on their relationship with local and national authorities, and on the way they organize themselves when disaster strikes. In the aftermath of a catastrophe, rebuilding not just the physical environment but also the livelihoods of people is also essential, including through effective social protection systems and safety nets.
 
In this video, Senior Social Development Specialist Margaret Arnold explains how the World Bank is working with client countries and local communities to bring the social dimension of disaster risk management to the forefront.

Mercy: Where religion and development can intersect

Adam Russell Taylor's picture
A high-level panel of faith-based organizations and religious leaders and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim discussed the role of faith in combating poverty at the 2015 Spring Meetings. © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank



World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will deliver a keynote address, “The Principle of Mercy,” at Union Theological Seminary in New York tomorrow night. The event is co-organized with the Jewish Theological Seminary and Riverside Church and will be livestreamed

At first glance, a seminary may seem like an unusual venue for a speech by a World Bank Group president. However, Kim’s speech fits into the broader context of the Bank Group’s revitalized engagement with faith-based and religious organizations over the past two years. He will share how faith communities have impacted his own journey and describe how the Catholic commitment to an “option for the poor” has served as an anchor and guiding ethic in his career — from his work at Partners in Health to his term as director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, to his present leadership of the World Bank Group.