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A tipping point for solar energy?

Joaquim Levy's picture
Manik, a solar pump operator for Nusra works near the solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
Manik, a solar pump operator for Nusra works near the solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

​Solar energy is poised to transform low-income economies, many of which are in the world’s sunniest regions. Solar’s growing share of the energy mix is being driven by better storage capacity and attractive generation costs. Large solar parks are now competitive with most alternatives; their average cost is below 5 cents per kilowatt-hour in some developing countries. Smaller-scale solar grids are also getting more competitive, opening new paths to financing this clean energy source. With rapid improvements in energy efficient lighting, refrigeration, water pumps, and other technologies for households, solar may soon be as game-changing as mobile phones have been in the last decade.

Solar’s potential is evident from its quick growth in India, where installed capacity recently topped 20 gigawatts (GW), putting the country closer to its ambitious target of 100 GW from clean energy by 2022 (an amount comparable to total installed capacity in the United Kingdom). Solar offers key advantages: facilities can be built quickly, do not need fuel to be transported to power plants, and can eliminate transmission costs where mini-grids or off-grid units are built to serve local communities. 
 

Even duller disasters? How earlier finance can save lives in emergencies

Nicola Ranger's picture
© International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank 2016
© World Bank


Putting in place the funding, systems, and plans before a disaster strikes can help dull the impact of disasters by enabling earlier, faster and more effective response and recovery.

But can we go further, making disasters even ‘duller’ by also releasing finance before a disaster strikes? 

UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, recently set out a compelling vision for how the humanitarian system can be improved. He argued that “disasters are predictable… we need to move from today’s approach where we watch disaster and tragedy build, gradually decide to respond, and then mobilise money and organisations to help, to an anticipatory approach, where we plan in advance for the next crises, putting the response plans and money for them before they arrive, and releasing the money and mobilising the response agencies as soon as they are needed…”

Sexual harassment – Where do we stand on legal protection for women?

Paula Tavares's picture
Also available in: Français
Women abused in her home holding her hand up. Stop sexual harassment against women. Violence and abuse in family relations. © Fure/Shutterstock.com
Woman abused in her home holding her hand up. Stop sexual harassment against women, violence and abuse in family relations. © Fure/Shutterstock.com


The #MeToo movement is transforming the way we perceive, and hopefully, deal with sexual harassment.

For too long women have suffered from this type of violence that has negative consequences on their voice and agency as well as their capacity to fully participate in the economy and society. There is ample evidence of the cost of sexual harassment to businesses – in legal settlements, lost work time and loss of business. But sexual harassment also has negative effects on women’s economic opportunities. For example, if no recourse is available to protect them, instead of reporting the problem, women facing sexual harassment in the workplace often say that they have no other choice but to quit. This may mean starting over, missing out on pay raises, career growth opportunities, and earning potential. Studies suggest that sexual harassment reduces career success and satisfaction for women. Yet, many countries still do not afford women adequate legal protection against this pervasive form of gender inequality.

Reengaging finance ministers in the fight against climate change

Miria Pigato's picture
Wind turbine farm. Tunisia. © Dana Smillie/World Bank


At the One Planet Summit in December 2017, French President Emanuel Macron cautioned that “we are losing the battle” on climate change and are “nowhere near” being able to contain rising temperatures to between 1.5°C to 2°C. Instead, Macron warned, temperatures could rise by 3.5°C or more by the end of this century.

Altering the trajectory of carbon emissions will require implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the individual country commitments agreed in Paris. Fiscal policies have a key role to play in this process: about one third of the NDCs include references to specific fiscal incentives -clean-energy subsidies, energy taxes, carbon taxes, or a combination thereof - in their NDCs. However, the effectiveness of finance ministers in incorporating climate action into their work presents mixed results. Although explicit fossil-fuel subsidies have fallen, fiscal policies in most countries continue to favor fossil fuels over renewable energy. Consider these points uncovered by recent studies:

Toward a linked and inclusive economy

Jim Yong Kim's picture
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The arrival of broadband internet is set to significantly improve medical services in Tonga. © Tom Perry/World Bank.
The arrival of broadband internet is set to significantly improve medical services in Tonga. © Tom Perry/World Bank.

While some studies predict automation to eliminate jobs at a dizzying rate, disruptive technologies can also create new lines of work. Our working draft of the forthcoming 2019 World Development Report, The Changing Nature of Work, notes that in the past century robots have created more jobs than they have displaced. The capacity of technology to exponentially change how we live, work, and organize leaves us at the World Bank Group constantly asking: How can we adapt the skills and knowledge of today to match the jobs of tomorrow?
 
One answer is to harness the data revolution to support new pathways to development. Some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day from cell phones, sensors, online platforms, and other sources. When data is used to help individuals adapt to the technology-led economy, it can make a huge contribution toward ending extreme poverty and inequality. Technology companies, however well intended, cannot do this alone.

Innovation drives Seychelles blue economy approach

Maria Damanaki's picture
Also available in: Français
© The Ocean Agency
© The Ocean Agency


Our oceans provide everything from food for billions around the world, to protecting communities and economies from storms—bringing it at least $1.5 trillion to the global economy every year. But they also face a barrage of threats, from marine pollution and dwindling fish stocks, to the dramatic effect of climate change on coastal communities. Such challenges require new ways of thinking and innovative financing tools that address both the health and economic wealth of our oceans.
 
Seychelles is a good example of a country that is going beyond business as usual when it comes to preserving its natural assets. In 2016, the Seychelles completed an innovative debt-for-nature conversion with The Nature Conservancy. This deal raised funding to buy $21 million of Seychelles’ sovereign debt to refinance it under more favorable terms, and then direct a portion of repayments to fund climate change adaptation, sustainable fisheries, and marine conservation projects – as well as to create an endowment for the benefit of future generations of Seychellois.

Let’s work together to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable against fragility

Franck Bousquet's picture
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Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank
Participants from 90 countries and 400 organizations joined the 2018 Fragility Forum to explore development, humanitarian and security approaches to fostering global peace and stability. © World Bank


Last week, in a gathering of governments and organizations at the World Bank-hosted 2018 Fragility Forum, the international community took an important step forward in fighting fragility by sharpening our understanding of it, hearing directly from those affected by it and thinking collectively through what we must do to overcome it.

We all agreed, acting on a renewed understanding of fragility and what it means to vulnerable communities represents an urgent and collective responsibility. We’ve all seen the suffering. In places like Syria, Myanmar, Yemen and South Sudan, the loss of life, dignity and economic prosperity is rife. With more than half of the world’s poor expected to live in fragile settings by 2030, we can’t end poverty unless we promote stability, prosperity, and peace in these places ravaged by conflict and crisis.

To build a brighter future, invest in women and girls

Jim Yong Kim's picture
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Arne Hoel

As we mark International Women’s Day 2018, there has never been a more critical time to invest in people, especially in women and girls. 

Skills, knowledge, and know-how – collectively called human capital – have become an enormous share of global wealth, bigger than produced capital such as factories or industry, or natural resources.

But human capital wealth is not evenly distributed around the world, and it’s a larger slice of wealth as countries develop. How, then, can developing countries build their human capital and prepare for a more technologically demanding future?

The answer is they must invest much more in the building blocks of human capital – in nutrition, health, education, social protection, and jobs. And the biggest returns will come from educating and nurturing girls, empowering women, and ensuring that social safety nets increase their resilience.

According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school, and 15 million girls of primary-school age – half of them in sub-Saharan Africa – will never enter a classroom. Women’s participation in the global labor market is nearly 27 percentage points lower than for men, and women’s labor force participation fell from 52 percent in 1990 to 49 percent in 2016.

What if we could fix this? Fostering women’s labor force participation, business ownership, and improvements in productivity could add billions to the global economy.

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