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City Transport: It’s About Moving People, Not Vehicles

Rachel Kyte's picture
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The number of vehicles on the world’s roads is on pace to double to about 1.7 billion by 2035. Pair that with a rapidly urbanizing population – six in 10 of us are likely to live in cities by 2030 – and the world’s cities have a transport problem in the making.

It’s also an opportunity, one that cities, particularly the fast-growing urban centers in developing countries, must take now.

Those that build efficient, inclusive urban transport systems can connect their people with jobs, health care, and education. They can reduce congestion, and they can limit carbon emissions that are contributing to climate change.

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

Donna Barne's picture

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

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.

Climate Lessons from a Hotter Arab World

Rachel Kyte's picture

Photo credit: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

This week in Doha, the marble corridors of the Qatar National Convention Center resonate with voices from around the world. Over half way through the UN Climate Change Conference, as ministers arrive and the political stakes pick up, a sense of greater urgency in the formal negotiations is almost palpable. But in the corridors, negotiations are already leading to deals and dreams and action on the ground.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the discussions by saying we need optimism, because without optimism there are no results. He reminded us all that Superstorm Sandy was a tragic awakening. He reiterated the call for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement and 100 billion in climate finance by 2020.

Meanwhile our focus was firmly on the region ...

The 24 Hours of Climate Reality Is about to Begin

Charles Cormier's picture

Teacher and students at a cyclone shelter in rural Bangladesh, 2011. Stephan Bachenheimer / World Bank
Photo: A teacher and school class stand at a cyclone shelter in rural Bangladesh. Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank

Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project launches its “24 hours of Reality: Dirty Weather Report” today. It’s a global online multimedia event that seeks to demonstrate how climate change is manifesting itself around the world, showcasing countries, communities and individuals leading through innovative solutions.

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.

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

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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?

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