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Latin America & Caribbean

From a rubber boat in the sea to swimming in Rio: A story of resilience

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


On a chilly October day in 2015, 24-year-old Rami Anis boarded a rubber boat in the Aegean Sea in Turkey. His destination was Europe and his goal was a better life away from war and hardship.

Looking at the people around him on the boat, he was horrified. They were children, men, and women. The fact that they might not make it never escaped his mind, even though he is a professional swimmer.

“Because with the sea, you can’t joke,” said the Syrian refugee.

But on Aug. 11, Rami will not be worried about swimming in the sea. He, instead, will be swimming at the Olympics. He made it safely to Belgium after days of heart-wrenching journey, from Istanbul to Izmir to Greece before setting off a trek through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and eventually Belgium.

Rami will be competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team — the first of its kind — and march with the Olympic flag immediately before host nation Brazil at the opening ceremony. 

Argentina’s chance to leap ahead

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español

View from Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. © Mary Stokes/World Bank

So far, 2016 has been a year filled with challenges and uncertainties. Global economic growth is weak, commodity prices remain low, and international trade isn’t picking up. In fact, voters around the world are questioning long-held beliefs in open markets, and populists are exploiting their fears by suggesting divisive policies and promising easy solutions to complex issues. Against this backdrop, it would seem that staying afloat is already a remarkable feat by any country.
 
But to make progress in the fight against poverty and to reactivate economic activity to provide opportunities for all, countries have to do much more. They have to tackle necessary and sometimes difficult reforms, deal with tradeoffs, but most of all, they need to stay focused on what is good for most people in the long-term.

Panama Canal expansion: A smart route for boosting infrastructure in Latin America

Philippe H. Le Houérou's picture
Also available in: Español
Since it opened in 1914, the Panama Canal has been one of the world’s most important trade assets and a marvel of engineering. Its expansion has doubled the canal’s cargo capacity, adding a new lane and bigger locks that will shake up shipping routes and make seaborne trade less costly and more efficient.
 
© Panama Canal Authority


Panama, already projected to be Latin America’s fastest-growing economy over the next five years, was the big winner when the expanded canal opened its locks on June 26. New port projects and related logistics hubs are in the works to attract global manufacturers and further enhance the country’s competitiveness.

Wonderful Life: Biodiversity for sustaining people and their livelihoods

Adriana Moreira's picture
Francisco "Chico" Mendes (1944 - 1988), Brazilian rubber-tapper and environmentalist, actively involved in protecting the Amazon forest through his advocacy for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples. Photo credit: Miranda Smith 

As a young scientist, I travelled to the Brazilian Amazon to research forest fires. After weeks of talking to rural producers, rubber tappers, indigenous peoples and cattle ranchers, I realized that I had to think beyond conservation science and climate change implications to understand the Amazonian landscape. The nexus between people and the rainforest was also important. I came away wanting to help ensure that the value of forests to people, and the value of people to forests remained closely linked and well-recognized.

The loss of biodiversity—which is driven by rapid conversion of habitats and landscapes, the depletion of ocean fisheries, and climate change—is not new. But concern for how to decrease the loss of biodiversity is. We are no longer just scientists and conservationists. The international community now makes the loss of biodiversity central to the global political debate: nations have the responsibility to protect natural assets.

The way out of poverty and corruption is paved with good governance

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français

Woman speaks to World Bank MD and COO Sri Mulyani Indrawati in the Nyabithu District of Rwanda. © Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

For the first time in history, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10%. The world has never been as ambitious about development as it is today. After adopting the Sustainable Development Goals and signing the Paris climate deal at the end of 2015, the global community is now looking into the best and most effective ways of reaching these milestones. In this five-part series I will discuss what the World Bank Group is doing and what we are planning to do in key areas that are critical for ending poverty by 2030: good governance, gender equality, conflict and fragility, creating jobs, and, finally, preventing and adapting to climate change.


Twenty years ago, the World Bank took up the fight against corruption as an integral part of reducing poverty, hunger, and disease. The decision was groundbreaking then and remains valid today. Corruption diverts resources from the poor to the rich, leads to a culture of bribes, and distorts public expenditures, deterring foreign investors and hampering economic growth.

Think forests and start by listening to their people

Etta Cala Klosi's picture
Myrna Cunningham
Interview with Dr. Myrna Cunningham


My childhood forests are tall, old growth trees clinging to mountainous slopes.

My sister and I would spend the first two weeks of our summer break at camps in the mountains of Albania. Getting a spot at a camp was a coveted ‘luxury’ but my sister and I were lucky -our mother was an official chaperone. She would wake us at 5 am to walk in the forest before everyone else was up. I have to say that as a five year old I didn’t appreciate the scenery. It was too early in the morning and anyway who cared about birds and foxes? (One time though we did see a red squirrel jumping from tree branches and even I had to admit that was awesome.)

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. 

Por que investir nas florestas é dinheiro e tempo bem empregados

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

É amplamente reconhecido que a redução de emissões provenientes do desmatamento poderia corresponder a um terço da diminuição das emissões de gases de efeito estufa necessária até 2030 para o planeta não aquecer mais de 2ºC. No entanto, proteger e gerenciar as florestas de forma prudente não somente faz sentido de uma perspectiva do clima. É também algo inteligente para a economia. As florestas são recursos econômicos de suma importância nos países tropicais. Protegê-las aumentará a resiliência às mudanças do clima, reduzirá a pobreza e ajudará a preservar a biodiversidade.

Seguem apenas alguns fatos para ilustrar por que as florestas são tão importantes. Primeiro, as florestas nos prestam serviços de ecossistema, tais como polinização de safras de alimentos, água e filtração do ar, bem como proteção contra inundações e erosão. As florestas também abrigam cerca de 1,3 bilhão de pessoas no mundo inteiro que dependem dos recursos florestais para subsistência. Em nível local, as florestas contribuem para a pluviosidade necessária para manter a produção de alimentos no correr do tempo. Quando as florestas são destruídas, esses benefícios são roubados da humanidade. 

O novo Relatório sobre a Economia Climática nos mostra que o crescimento econômico e a redução das emissões de carbono podem se reforçar mutuamente. Precisamos de mais inovação e mais investimentos para ter uma economia de baixo carbono. Isso requer certas escolhas fundamentais de política pública e a transformação não será fácil. No entanto, é possível e na realidade trata-se do único caminho para um crescimento e desenvolvimento sustentados. Se o uso da terra for produtivo e os sistemas energéticos forem eficientes, ambos impulsionarão um desenvolvimento econômico sólido e reduzirão a intensidade das emissões carbono.

Em âmbito mundial, os países com as grandes florestas tropicais já estão agindo.

Nas florestas, uma mudança de atitude em favor dos povos indígenas

Myrna Kay Cunningham Kain's picture
Also available in: Español | English
Girl. Panama. Gerardo Pesantez-World Bank

Em 2015, mais de 500 milhões de hectares de florestas eram posse de povos indígenas. Embora nas últimas décadas a área florestal designada aos povos indígenas e sob sua posse tenha aumentado, os governos ainda administram 60% dessas áreas, e as corporações e agentes privados, 9%. A pressão dos povos indígenas nas últimas décadas tornou possível aumentar em cerca de 50% a área florestal reconhecida como propriedade das comunidades indígenas e a elas designada. A América Latina e o Caribe, onde os povos indígenas controlam 40% das florestas, é a região com maiores avanços. Outras regiões do mundo mostram tendências semelhantes.

Para os povos indígenas, que sempre têm vivido na floresta, ela representa seu espaço de reprodução cultural, produção de alimentos e segurança espiritual. Para os governos e empresas, a floresta contém ativos importantes para a produção de alimentos, desenvolvimento econômico, segurança, mitigação da mudança do clima, sequestro de carbono, água, minerais e extração de gás. A essas percepções divergentes sobre propriedade e uso da floresta somou-se nas últimas décadas a multiplicação de conflitos sobre o controle do território e recursos florestais. Com a crescente demanda internacional de bens primários (minerais, hidrocarbonetos, soja e outros produtos agrícolas básicos), há um maior dinamismo econômico com base em sua exploração. No entanto, isso foi ao custo de graves impactos ambientais, reclassificações espaciais e violações de direitos, interesses, territórios e recursos dos povos indígenas (CEPAL 2014).

Nesse contexto, o que está contribuindo para a mudança de atitude, tanto no nível de país como global, que nos permite concluir que essa situação já começou a se reverter?

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?

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