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TEDx World Bank Group focused on gender, agriculture, climate change, and water

Bahar Salimova's picture

Kojo Namdi at TEDxWBG

Yesterday, I attended the TEDxWorldBankGroup event, entitled Global Challenges in the New Decade. This first TEDxWorldBankGroup event was organized by the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) to add to the critical discussions taking place during the Spring Meetings. The event aimed to encourage conversation on gender, climate change, agriculture and water, and to find possible solutions to these global issues.  

The speakers at the event were great and made excellent points about each of the chosen issues. One of the takeaways from the event was that the development community should act as one in addressing critical issues and take a wholesome approach to resolving global challenges instead of tackling them piecemeal.

Jason Clay, Senior Vice President of Market Transformation at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who presented on water issues at the event said that every time the development community tries to maximize efforts in one area, it takes away from another; therefore looking at all of these issues as a whole is the most effective way to solve them for the future generations.

Irene Khan at TEDxWBG

The idea of working in tandem on issues was also underlined in the presentation of Irene Khan, former General Secretary of Amnesty International (AI). For instance, she mentioned that as the education of women goes up, the social status of women becomes better and child mortality goes down. Ms. Khan added that gender equality, gender empowerment and gender justice is more than giving women means to survive; it is about creating a just society.

Another aspect of working together was highlighted by Nancy Roman, Director of Public Policy, Communications and Private Partnerships of the World Food Programme (WFP). Ms. Roman mentioned that food security is not about increasing food production; it is about providing better access to food across countries and nations. She underlined that there have been a staggering lack of innovation in the food industry, which negatively affects food security and further exacerbates hunger around the world. To alleviate this problem, Ms. Roman called the development community to collaborate with the private sector and to utilize better their networks and skills.

The conversation was further enriched by Ken Chomitz, Senior Adviser at IEG. Mr. Chomitz shared his recent research findings on deforestation and climate, which show that mixed-use protected areas – where local people combine sustainable forest and land use – are more effective than strict protected areas. He mentioned the example of a successful project implemented by the World Bank in Colombia, which prevented deforestation through working with farmers to plant more trees near their pastures.  

All of the presentations will be shortly available on the TEDxWorldBankGroup website. For more information and to watch the video presentations, please visit our website at We also hope to hear your opinions on the issues discussed at the TEDx event in our blog.

(Photos by Roy Gilbert)


Submitted by Anonymous on
"The speakers at the event were great and made excellent points about each of the chosen issues". Coming from the IEG's own information officer, this makes the whole article less than credible. Also, what are we to make of silly statements such as "food security is not about increasing food production; it is about providing better access to food across countries and nations" Really? So we should just stop all funding for increased food production since we don't need to produce more food, we just need better access to what there already is? Tell that to the billions of people who go to bed hungry each night and who would love a little more "food security".

Submitted by Bahar on
Dear anonymous, This is Bahar replying to your comment. It is true that as an Information Officer with IEG, I may be biased toward how interesting the event was, but it is my personal opinion that the speakers at the event were amazing and I enjoyed their presentations. As for the food security issue, this was mentioned by Ms. Nancy Roman from WFP who highlighted that the world currently produces enough food to feed everyone, but there is no adequate access to it. Ensuring food access has become a critical part of food security efforts after the 1996 World Food Summit, which acknowledged the importance of multifaceted approaches toward eliminating world hunger. Please note that neither Ms. Roman nor I was suggesting that the development community should stop its aid to food security, but rather that the efforts should be strengthened by ensuring food access. Once again, thank you for your comment and contribution to the discussions.

Submitted by David M. on
Way to jump to a conclusion "Anonymous". Ms. Roman was certainly not suggesting that funding for increased food production should be stopped, but she was making the point that food security is not purely about food production. Go watch the presentation "Anonymous". Although three out of the four presentations were pretty conceptual in nature, with Mr. Chomitz being the exception, Ms. Roman did make a point worthy of further exploration. She suggested that development groups dealing with agricultural development and food security should be more open to private sector actors, namely agribusiness, to spur innovation in the field. Unfortunately, she didn't elaborate too much further on what type of partnerships she envisioned. Interestingly, right after her presentation there was a video of Chef Dan Barber's TED talk disparaging the agribusiness model. In the TED spirit of examining new and innovated ideas, I think it would be interesting if the TEDxWorldBankGroup held an event examining this issue. I think IEG would be in the unique position to present information about food security-centered projects that have either found success or failure.

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