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March 2012

Citizens In Want of Stamina

Sina Odugbemi's picture

This is the age of hopeful citizens where in almost every part of the globe citizens are mobilizing, marching and, often successfully, pushing for change. But this is also the age of increasingly frustrated citizens. In some cases, the frustration is occasioned by the failure to achieve changes in regimes even after an astonishing sequence of heroic efforts and sacrifices by citizens. In other cases, the efforts originally appeared successful. Long-entrenched dictators fell and citizens were ecstatic, believing glorious days were imminent. Yet, in many of these cases, one disappointment is jumping on top of another. Change is proving far more difficult to achieve; it is even proving elusive.

Calling young Egyptians: What YOU THINK matters

David Craig's picture
Kim Eun Yeul | 2011When I last wrote, we were launching a round of consultations out of our World Bank office in Cairo to hear from Egyptian voices on how best we support this great country in the historic transition now underway. Thanks to those of you who joined us in the great wide world of the virtual cafe. In our actual offices (and with real tea and coffee) we had meetings with political parties including the Freedom and Justice Party, the Al-Nour Party, Al-Wafd and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Indonesia: A return to Aceh amidst hopes for peace and prosperity

Dini Djalal's picture

Juga tersedia di Bahasa

My first trip to Aceh was in August 1998, four months after the resignation of former President Soeharto. It was the height of Indonesia's pro-democracy Reformasi movement, and many journalists thought that travel permits were still required, as it had been for decades. My friend and I were venturing as 'tourists'. In many villages, the legacy of repression remained: razed houses, shuttered schools, and households run by widows. Poverty was unavoidable; violence and economic growth are often incompatible.

Exporting is Easy; the Challenge is Making it Sustainable

Catalyst factory in Macedonia. Source: Johnson Matthey Inc.In 2009, an EU-based chemical manufacturer opened a plant inside one of FYR Macedonia’s recently-established special economic zones. The plant began production of catalysts, a type of emissions-control component used in automobiles. Two years later, this investment drove chemical products to the third-highest spot on Macedonia’s export list, lessening the country’s reliance on metals and textiles.

In Nicaragua, low labor costs and high security compared to its neighbors have led zonas francas to expand dramatically, attracting producers of electronic wires and medical devices and expanding the country’s exports beyond an already-strong apparel sector. Between 2006 and 2008, for example, ignition wiring sets for vehicles were the country’s fourth biggest export.

Transforming Plastic Bottles into Classrooms

Myra Valenzuela's picture

Nueva Reforma - almost finished - Photo credit: Hug It Forward on Flickr In the Philippines and Guatemala, local groups have taken the mantra “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” to a whole new level. MyShelter Foundation and Hug It Forward use discarded plastic bottles as ‘eco-bricks’ to work with local communities to build “Bottle Schools” – providing an innovative response to the problems of plastic waste and the chronic lack of educational infrastructure.

A Perfect Storm for Social Enterprises?

Ignacio Mas's picture

It’s fuzzy, it’s trendy, and it’s not even clear how new the whole concept really is. The passions triggered by the new breed of enterprises we now call social may even appear to some almost cultish.

They operate as private enterprises, often with a strong entrepreneurial and innovation culture, but claim to have a broader purpose than just maximizing financial returns for shareholders. They aim to be sustainable (i.e. commercially viable) though they don’t shun grant money from foundations and aid programs to get them started.

Interest in the social enterprise sector will continue to grow because it lies at the confluence of several powerful trends. There are three inter-linked themes: the search for new approaches to the challenges of development, the spirit of technological innovation, and growing global prosperity and integration.Muhammad Yunus is one of the world's most well known social entrepreneurs. (Credit: World Economic Forum, Flickr)

Donors and multilateral development organizations are increasingly emphasizing private sector development as the preferred path to growth. They have seen that promotion of a stable macroeconomic environment and trade liberalization by themselves may not trigger supply-side responses, and that heavy-handed government action through public enterprises and industrial policies are prone to political capture and often result in a checkerboard of local monopolies. There is therefore much interest in policies that make it easier to do business, remove obstacles to external enterprise financing, and develop a pool of skills that can be readily harnessed by a growing entrepreneurial class.

Washington’s Cherry Blossoms: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Dan Hoornweg's picture

Cherry Trees, Washington, DCOne of the best things about living in Washington DC is riding your bike to work, early in the morning, past the blossoming cherry trees along the tidal basin. Sometimes you have to actually stop for a moment, the trees are so beautiful. Thank you, Governor (Mayor) Ozaki Yukio: He gave the trees to the up and coming Washington DC in 1912.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the City of Tokyo’s original gift of 3020 cherry trees. You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect gift, or a more perfect example of how the cities we live in, and the globally-minded ones overseas, improve our day-to-day quality of life.

Politically-filtered views on progress against poverty

Martin Ravallion's picture

Like all fields of socio-economic measurement, there is scope for debate on how best to assess development progress. There is often much to be learnt from such debate.

But the debates are not always politically neutral. Some observers chose only to look critically at data and methods when the results diverge from their political priors. And some try to undermine evidence that does not fit their priors by questioning the motives of those producing that evidence. A generous interpretation might construe this as some “postmodern” approach to data, but on closer inspection it often looks more like a debating ploy to make up for weak substantive arguments.


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