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Longreads: Rise of Middle Class Jobs, ‘Real’ Birth of the Solar Industry, Ecosystem Modeling, Stranded on the Roof of the World

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LongreadsMiddle class gained on Twitter, with many people taking note of Thomas Friedman’s The Virtual Middle Class Rises. Friedman’s op-ed is about how cheaper computing is enabling people who earn only a few dollars a day to access the “kind of technologies and learning previously associated solely with the middle class.” Such access is driving social change and social protest, he says. It’s a trend also observed by sociologist and author Saskia Sassen in an interview with The Hindu, Why the Middle Class is Revolting, though Sassen’s vision is more pessimistic. Another trend—a  sharp, decade-long rise in “middle class” jobs in developing countries—is enlarging the middle class in the developing world and promises ultimately to drive global growth, says the International Labour Organization in a new study.  ILO says nearly 1.1 billion workers (42%) earn between $4 and $13 a day, which is middle class wages in the developing world.  The number of middle class workers in developing countries is expected to grow by 390 million to reach 51.9% by 2017.  The report notes, however, that “progress in poverty reduction has slowed” and the number of “near poor” is growing. Also check out the Guardian’s datablog on the report.

Workers by economic class, 1991-2011, developing world
Source: International Labour Organization

Longreads: Black Carbon, Combating Violence Against Women, Global Trends 2030, Boomtown Slum

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LongreadsSatellite images of Beijing’s smog have been popping up on Twitter and blogs as the city suffers shockingly high air pollution levels. Some bloggers point out Beijing’s black skies aren’t so different from pre-1960s London or Pittsburgh in their industrial heyday. Even so, a new study warns that the heat-trapping effect of “black carbon,” or soot, is second only to CO2. Yale’s Environment 360 explains why cutting it could “go a long way to slowing climate change.” Check out cities with high air pollution levels in the Guardian’s data visualization showing exposure to outdoor air pollution, mapped by city.


(Source: Guardian)

Concern over the brutal and fatal rape of a young woman in India continues to grow. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown highlights a global online petition that has attracted more than a million signatures in “Without frontiers, young people mobilize for change.” On Twitter, plans for a February 14 worldwide event to raise awareness about violence against women are being spread using hashtag #1billionrising, For an academic read on the issue, check out a recent study, linked below, on combating violence against women, covering 40 years and 70 countries. It finds that the “mobilization of feminists…is the critical factor accounting for policy change.” What will the world be like 17 years from now? A new report by the National Intelligence Council -- Global Trends 2030 (pdf) -- is sparking interest. Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Joseph S. Nye offers his take on the report’s “gamechangers” and megatrends. One key trend—urbanization—is keenly felt in Nairobi. The city’s Kibera slum is a place where “government is absent,” and where the economy is booming and incomes are rising, according to the Economist, adding it “may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet.

Bloomberg, Kim on Need for Greener, More Efficient Transport in Cities

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speak outside the Transforming Transportation 2013 conference.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in January 18 on what it will take to shape the future of cities — and cut pollution, road deaths, commute times, and poverty.

A large part of the answer: greener, more efficient and cost-effective urban transportation that is designed to move people, not cars.

“We have to start looking at other ways to move people. Traffic does hurt your economy,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the 10th Annual Transforming Transportation conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the World Bank and EMBARQ.

With 90 percent of city air pollution caused by vehicles, finding transportation solutions also will help confront emissions that drive climate change, Dr. Kim added.

Longreads: Mobile Internet Traffic Gaining Fast, Polar Ice Melt Quantified, Africa’s Lions Declining, Best Small Ideas of 2012

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Internet + trends + mobile, along with an image depicting the rapid rise of mobile Internet access in India, gained on Twitter and the Web after venture capitalist Mary Meeker shared the findings of her new Internet Trends report with Stanford University students December 3.  A key finding of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers report—an update to one released in March—is that, “Mobile traffic is growing so fast globally that in some places it has already surpassed desktop traffic,” says CNET. Meeker also notes several ways we are re-imagining our lives because of rapid technological development and Internet access. Polar ice melt is the topic of a new research paper in Science, A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance, containing the “most definitive” estimate so far of polar ice melt over the last 20 years (11mm), says the BBC, noting that “sea-level rise is now among the most pressing questions of our time.”  Africa’s lion population has declined to as low as 32,000, down from nearly 100,000 in 1960, says a study led by Duke University researchers and funded by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. In a short overview, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment also highlights the continent’s rapid loss of savannah ecosystems where lions live. Small innovations are “quietly changing the world in big ways,” says author Tina Rosenberg in Foreign Policy. Such ideas include “pay for performance” to get kids in school or keep young men out of jail, or helping people with cash or vouchers rather than food aid or refugee camps.

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

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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. 

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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?”

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

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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.

Longreads: Geography of Poverty, Reporting Poverty, Chinese City Limiting Cars, a FarmVille for Africa

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

LongreadsThe Economist’s much tweeted-about "Geography of Poverty" highlights a "poverty paradox" – that more of the world’s extremely poor people now live in middle-income countries rather than in the poorest ones. The finding comes from a new paper by Andy Sumner of the Institute of Development Studies. But the situation could change by 2025 if the number of poor people grows in fragile states, say Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institution and Andrew Rogerson of the Overseas Development Institute in the Economist. Veteran journalist Katherine Boo, author of a new book on life in a Mumbai slum, discusses the challenge of portraying poor people as individuals in the media, in an interview with Guernica in "Reporting Poverty." Big Chinese cities are starting to adopt measures with the potential to ease pollution and "improve the long-term quality of Chinese growth," according to a story in the New York Times. "A Chinese City Moves to Limit New Cars" describes, among other things, restrictions in Guangzhou expected to cut the number of cars on city streets in half. And finally, imagine vicariously smashing mosquitoes, riding a motorbike through the streets of Lagos, or remembering life in a rural village. The BBC writes about a Nigerian video game-maker who believes Africans and non-Africans alike may want to tap into the African experience through games.

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