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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 ...

Living Landscapes: Solutions for a Sustainable World

Peter Dewees's picture

Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Kingdom of Swaziland, providing the closing keynote for Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day
Photo: Mduduzi Duncan Dlamini, Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Kingdom of Swaziland, providing the closing keynote for Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day.

The final rounds of Forests Day and Agriculture Day wrapped up at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha this week under a new shared banner: Living Landscapes Days.

Both Days have become annual events on the sidelines of the UN climate change conferences, meant to bring together scientists and policy makers and, originally, to bring forests and farming onto the Conference of Parties (COP) agenda. Forests have largely achieved this objective with the the emergence of various agreements about REDD+.

Agriculture has slipped down the list of priority issues tackled by the COP, which has been struggling to figure out what to do about extending the Kyoto agreements and a range of other issues, but is certain to re-emerge. The agriculture discussions this week at Doha aimed to identify scalable solutions to specific mitigation and adaptation challenges which can benefit farmers; gaps where there are limited existing solutions or limited available knowledge; and potential trade-offs in implementing existing, known solutions.

This year, the two worked together to build on the themes of climate-smart agriculture, which became prominent in Durban in the last COP: farming which builds soil carbon, increasing food security, and enhancing resilience to climate shocks.

World AIDS Day 2012: Looking to the Future, Learning From the Past

Jim Yong Kim's picture

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Although I have committed much of my career to the global fight against HIV and AIDS, this year's World AIDS Day is a special one for me in two ways. First, there's the remarkable news from UNAIDS that more than 8 million people globally are now on treatment, and 25 countries have achieved more than a 50 percent decline in HIV prevalence. With this progress, I am more optimistic than ever about our ability to end AIDS.

As the US government’s new blueprint for an AIDS-free generation demonstrates, today we have the science, the knowledge, the experience, and the tools to fight the epidemic. I was particularly happy to see that the blueprint included multi-year, sustainability strategies and that it stressed the need to support country leadership. With that leadership, and with a long-term plan owned by countries, these efforts can succeed.

Jim Yong Kim Visits Quake Reconstruction Sites in China’s Sichuan Province

YUNXI TOWN, Yantang County, China—More than three years after a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan Province, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim toured four reconstruction sites, including stops that looked at road construction, a maternal and child health center, and an economic development zone.

After talking to several villagers in Yunxi's town square, during which Kim asked residents about the earthquake and its aftermath, Kim gives his impressions from the trip in the video below.

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Food Prices Still Critical Concern: 5 Questions for Economist José Cuesta

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High food prices appear to be the new normal, as are wild fluctuations in prices. The world ducked a global food crisis after some key staples such as maize and soybean soared to record levels in July 2012, but food security concerns have not dissipated. The latest issue of the World Bank’s Food Price Watch shows that while the October Food Price Index dropped 5 percent below its July peak, internationally traded foods such as grains and oils are still well above price levels a year ago.

World Bank economist José Cuesta, author of the quarterly Food Price Watch, says this is not the time for the world to become complacent about high and volatile food prices. We need more action to help the 870 million people who are hungry, and the many millions more who live under a constant threat of hunger, he says.

IDA Meeting Takes Stock of Progress, Next Steps

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

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IDA16 Mid-Term Review
Photo: IDA16 Mid-Term Review, right to left, President Alassane Ouattara, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Republic of Liberia, and Axel van Trotsenburg, Vice President of the World Bank, Concessional Finance & Global Partnerships. Credit: Abidjan.net

Two weeks ago, a consortium of donor and borrower countries met to take stock of progress on meeting commitments made by IDA, the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries. (Not sure what IDA is? Click here.) This meeting was an important check-in at the half-way point in what is known as IDA16—a three-year period running from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2014, during which special grant and soft loan financing is made available for life-changing works in the world's 81 poorest countries.

The meeting was hosted by Côte d'Ivoire, our first mid-term meeting held in a client country. The talks were attended by IDA Deputies and Borrower Representatives, individuals appointed to represent their governments on IDA.

President Kim on High-Level Talks with Chinese Leaders

BEIJING -- On his first trip to China as World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim met with several senior leaders in the government, including Vice Premier Li Keqiang. In the meeting with the vice premier, the two, at Li Keqiang's suggestion, agreed to embark on a joint China-World Bank study on how developing countries can best prepare for the continuing massive movement of people into cities.
 
Details around the urbanization study have yet to be finalized, but the two leaders said it could be part of the new China-World Bank delivery knowledge hub, which was officially established Tuesday, Nov. 27 to initially examine issues around urban transportation.
 
In the video below, Kim talks about his first round of meetings with Chinese leaders.

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Toilet Stories

Submitted on Mon, 11/19/2012 - 10:33

Toilets - everyone has a story to tell about these. The World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia online communications team reflects on global sanitation issues and their personal experiences on World Toilet Day.

Up to the Knees, Down to the Knees
John Mackedon (USA), Online Communications Officer

“Up to the knees – down to the knees.” Though nonsensical the first time I heard it, this mantra soon defined the five years I lived in the country, Georgia. Growing up in the United States had allowed me to remain ignorant of one of the most critical topics in the global health discourse: unsanitary toilets.  This ignorance soon turned to shock, dismay and finally, acceptance, as I mastered rolling up pants and perfected a mean squat.

With World Toilet Day upon us, I reflect on this transformation and my thoughts go out to anyone around the world who is denied access to such a fundamental need.  I think back on some of most unsavory locations I have encountered over the years and am acutely aware that even today, someone might consider that an unknown luxury. I hope there comes a day when “up to the knees – down to the knees” seems as unfamiliar to anyone in the developing world as it once did to me.

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.

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