Let’s be honest. The Middle East and North Africa is burning, and in some areas it is literally burning. Conflict and fragility have long warped what once was the cradle of civilization and the inspiration for the many inventions we can’t live without today. However, in the midst of that fire hope rises, a driver of change that is transforming the ugly reality into a bright future.
After I fled the war in Iraq in 2006, I was pessimistic about what the future was holding for that region. Year after another, the domino-effect of collapse became a reality that shaped the region and its people. Yet, fast-forward to 2017, I have witnessed what I never thought I would see in my lifetime: the new renaissance in the Middle East and North Africa.
I have just recently come back from attending the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the Dead Sea in Jordan. This year, the Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, partnered to bring together 100 Arab start-ups that are shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
There, the positive vibe was all around; no negativity, no pessimism. Instead there was a new sense of optimism and enthusiasm, hunger for change, and the will to take the region to a whole new future, away from conflict and the current norm of pessimism.
When governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), their message was one of ambition: a world in which poverty is eliminated, growth made sustainable, ecosystems restored, and no one is left behind. This came with a price tag: annual investment needs of $4 trillion. With only $1.5 trillion now being invested, this means closing an investment gap of $2.5 trillion every year until 2030.
For International Finance Institutions, this is the central challenge of our time. It involves aligning the interest of global savers, and the investors who represent them, with the interest of citizens as they are expressed through the SDGs.
The fact is that the poorest countries have been left behind. To change this, we have focused on two levers: (a) reforms and instruments to manage risks of investing in lower-income countries, which are perceived to be of higher risk, and (b) sector policy and capacity to increase the flow of viable, high impact projects. At major gatherings in Addis Ababa, New York, Washington and Accra, we are working on these issues.
Ever notice how cities can really encapsulate many of the things that make life enjoyable? Green spaces to enjoy the outdoors, access to jobs, affordable housing for all, a well-connected public transportation system, access to healthy food, schools for all children, and so on. Some cities achieve this better than others, but creating a city that works for all of its citizens can be a challenge for governments and communities alike.
Why? Let’s look at some numbers: Up to 1 billion people living in slums in the cities of the world are in need of better services; Cities consume 2/3 of the world’s energy and account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions; 66 out of 100 people will live in cities by 2050, which tells us the global population is becoming increasingly urban.
Every city is a work in progress in this sense and for organizations like the World Bank, cities offer opportunities to help people raise themselves out of poverty. With so many people concentrated geographically, it’s possible to make improvements that benefit many, and with investments across multiple sectors in cities, governments can really make an impact on the lives of their citizens.
How many school children can be endangered by the schools themselves? The answer was over 600,000 in metropolitan Lima alone.
In the region, fraught with frequent seismic activity, nearly two-thirds of schools were highly vulnerable to damage by earthquakes. Working with the Peruvian Ministry of Education (MINEDU), the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) conducted a risk assessment that ultimately helped make an estimated 2.5 million children safer and paved the way for a $3.1 billion national risk-reduction strategy.
Whether it is building safer schools or deploying early warning systems, disaster risk management is an integral part of caring for our most vulnerable, combating poverty, and protecting development gains.
Over the last 30 years, the world has lost an estimated $3.8 trillion to natural disasters. , and to undo decades of development progress overnight.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, contributing trillions of dollars to the global economy and supporting the livelihoods of an estimated one in ten people worldwide. In many countries, with both developing and well-developed economies, tourism is appropriately viewed as an engine of economic growth, and a pathway for improving the fortunes of people and communities that might otherwise struggle to grow and prosper.
Much of that tourism depends on the natural world—on beautiful landscapes and seascapes that visitors flock to in search of escape, a second wind, and a direct connection with nature itself. Coastal and marine tourism represents a significant share of the industry and is an important component of the growing, sustainable Blue Economy, supporting more than 6.5 million jobs—second only to industrial fishing. With anticipated global growth rates of more than 3.5%, coastal and marine tourism is projected to be the largest value-adding segment of the ocean economy by 2030, at 26%.
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or IDAHOT.
Why should we care about IDAHOT? Because sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI, matters.
Despite some legal and social progress in the past two decades, LGBTI people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. Sometimes, being LGBTI is even a matter of life and death. They may be your friends, your family, your classmates, or your coworkers.
In extreme conditions, a human can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. To support a global population that has grown to 7.5 billion, the demand for these essential natural resources is increasing, leading to deforestation, habitat degradation and fragmentation, overgrazing, and over exploitation.
In the quest to survive and thrive, humans have already converted 38% of the world's land area for farming; in addition, we have deforested land for industry, mining and infrastructure, leaving less than 15% of the world's land area as terrestrial protected areas for biodiversity conservation. If there is so much human pressure on protected areas, where can the remaining populations of elephants, big cats, and other wildlife go in search of their own food and water? A rich maize harvest, an unprotected paddy field or a well-fed cow in the surrounding landscape would (understandably) seem irresistible. This conflict over natural resources, especially land and water, is the root cause of human-wildlife conflict.
Em todo o mundo, bancos de desenvolvimento estão avaliando sua atuação e observando onde esses esforços têm mais impacto. O tema foi objeto de uma reunião organizada pelo Banco Mundial e pelo Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES).
Os bancos de desenvolvimento se tornam peças cada vez mais fundamentais à medida que o mundo busca angariar os recursos necessários para atingir os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Esses bancos podem ajudar a atrair o setor privado e solidificar as parcerias entre os setores público e privado, principalmente em matéria de financiamento de infraestrutura.
No entanto, o uso abusivo de bancos de desenvolvimento pode gerar riscos fiscais e distorções no mercado de crédito. Para evitar essas armadilhas, os bancos de desenvolvimento precisam de uma missão bem definida e devem operar sem influência política, concentrar-se no combate às grandes falhas de mercado, focar as áreas onde o setor privado não atua, monitorar e avaliar intervenções e realizar os ajustes necessários para garantir o impacto almejado. Também precisam ser transparentes e responsáveis.
Earlier this month, development banks from around the world took stock of where they stand and where they see their efforts having the greatest impact at a meeting organized by the World Bank and Brazil’s development bank, BNDES.
As the world struggles in narrowing that gap. They can help to crowd-in the private sector and anchor private-public sector partnerships, particularly for infrastructure financing.
However, misusing development banks can lead to fiscal risks and credit market distortions. To avoid these potential pitfalls, , operate without political influence, focus on addressing significant market failures, concentrate on areas where the private sector is not present, monitor and evaluate interventions and adjust as necessary to ensure impact, and, finally, be transparent and accountable.
Two themes characterized the discussion at the meeting: . To support Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) finance, development banks use partial credit guarantees while letting private lenders originate, fund, and collect on credit. In markets with limited competition, development banks support the creation of an ecosystem of specialized Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) lenders to which they provide a stable funding source.
Over the past decade, commitments and support for Forest Landscape Restoration have grown significantly. As part of the Bonn Challenge, for instance, some 40 countries, sub-national jurisdictions, and non-governmental entities have now pledged to restore forest landscapes across 148 million hectares. Although the environmental benefits in terms of ecosystem services, soil restoration, water, biodiversity and climate resilience are evident, the tremendous economic arguments and the value proposition for poor people living in, or nearby, the forests, are not always at the forefront of the efforts to restore landscapes.
In fact, some 1.3 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihood—that is 20% of the global population. This includes income from the sale of trees and tree-related products. It also includes the value of fruit, fodder, medicines, and other direct or indirect products that they consume. However, the restoration of forest landscape at a global scale needs a new vision for an integrated forest economy which appreciates and understands forests along their entire value chain. Thus it is crucial to see forest landscape restoration efforts as much more than just protecting forests, but as a force for economic growth and poverty reduction.