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November 2011

Smart Cities for Dummies

Dan Hoornweg's picture

I grimace when I see those ads to ‘Build a Smarter Planet’. It seems to me the planet was working pretty well before we started messing with it. But ‘Build a Smarter City’ – now that’s something I can get behind. Cities are humanity’s grandest creation. They reflect us, sometimes smart, sometimes not. Cities reflect our civilizations, and when working well cities are the most efficient way to help the poor, the fortunate and unfortunate, and the environment. And without a doubt every city in the world would benefit from smarter design and smarter management.

Coffee House, New Delhi, IndiaThere’s a bit of smoke and mirrors on some of today’s smart city claims. Selling more IT and sophisticated algorithms might help a few of the very fortunate cities. Building a smart-city suburb next to a very unsustainable city can yield important lessons but can also be a useful distraction. Being really smart about cities is improving basic service delivery to the 1 billion urban-poor now going without clean water, or the 2 billion without sanitation. And we need big-time smarts as we build cities over the next twenty years for an additional 2 billion residents – this time locking in energy savings and a high quality of life for all.

Remittance flows to developing countries exceed $350 billion in 2011

Dilip Ratha's picture

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $351 billion in 2011, up 8 percent over 2010 (See brief).

For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose in 2011. Growth of remittances in 2011 exceeded our earlier expectations in four regions, especially in Europe and Central Asia (due to higher outward flows from Russia that benefited from high oil prices) and Sub-Saharan Africa (due to strong south-south flows and weaker currencies in some countries that attracted larger remittances). By contrast, growth in remittance flows to Latin America and Caribbean was lower than previously expected, due to continuing weakness in the U.S. economy and Spain. Flows to Middle East and Africa were also impacted by the “Arab Spring”.

AIDS at 30: continuing the fight

David Wilson's picture

Timeline: AIDS at 30

Today is the most mixed World AIDS Day in our 30-year fight against this devastating disease.

AIDS continues to reverse decades of human progress, particularly in Africa. As of 2010, 30 million people have died of AIDS-related causes, and another 34 million are living with HIV. And with HIV/AIDS funding flat-lining, we’re all facing the challenge of doing more with less.

But after a decade of concerted global effort and remarkable successes in treatment and prevention, there’s cause for hope: More countries are seeing HIV decline, and we’ve witnessed incredible scientific breakthroughs that are changing the course of the epidemic. This week, we announced that India, with the support of the World Bank and other partners, is averting 3 million HIV infections, thanks to targeted prevention interventions.

Small & medium sized enterprises: not a silver bullet for growth and job creation

Caroline Freund's picture
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are being targeted as never before for their potential to stimulate growth and create jobs. Many of the development agencies (World Bank, EBRD, Islamic Development Bank, among others) have plans to expand programs for financing and supporting SMEs. Most recently at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, government officials from countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as from the US and EU, talked up their potential for creating jobs in the region. This would be good news if it was true, but a growing body of evidence suggests that SMEs are not the silver bullet that we had hoped for.

Fighting HIV/AIDS in Thailand: can distributing clean needles ever be as easy as giving out condoms?

Anne Elicaño's picture

Available in: Français, ภาษาไทย

When I think of HIV/AIDs, symbols pop into my mind: the red looped ribbon and the free condom. They’re actually a good representation of what Thailand is doing best to combat the epidemic- massive information campaigns and the 100% Condom Program which saw the dramatic decline of HIV/AIDS among sex workers.

However, those symbols faded in my mind after I visited an old, impoverished part of Bangkok and met the people who currently are the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS- the injection drug users.

 

HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases are transmitted when needles are shared. Under influence, many users are also likely to have unprotected sex.  There are programs called ‘harm reduction’ where drug users are provided with clean needles, syringes, and condoms to avoid transmission. Condom distribution is easy but needles are another issue.  

 

Negotiating Globally

Maya Brahmam's picture

Just last week, I attended a presentation on negotiation by Chris Voss, CEO of Black Swan, at Georgetown University.  It was particularly interesting because Chris was also one of the top hostage negotiators for the FBI.

Negotiation is increasingly important because with the spread of globalization, we are constantly colliding with others who may or may not share our cultural mores, and to be successful in our jobs, whether it is working with parties on governance and accountability, consulting with civil society, or communicating around a project, we have to understand how to negotiate globally.

World’s First Education Laureate Announced!

Elizabeth King's picture

Earlier this month in Doha at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, well known simply as BRAC, was chosen as the first winner of the WISE Prize for Education.

Harmonization and alignment in development assistance for health: now what?

Cristian Baeza's picture

The International Health Partnership (IHP+) has done an exceptional job the last three years in bringing together countries, donors, international financial institutions, civil society, the United Nations, and many other partners to agree on how, concretely, we would implement the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

Viewpoint on a rising dragon

Justin Yifu Lin's picture

As a counterpoint to grim forecasts coming out of Europe, I am hopeful that we can anticipate an Asian century where China will grow dynamically for another 20 years. Yet there are caveats to this optimistic scenario: Success in China will require a process of continual transformation and the wherewithal to tackle what I describe as a triple imbalance at the national level. I expound on this and other points in a BBC viewpoint piece published on November 23.


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