I was delighted to join the recent colloquium, Getting to Equal in Education: Addressing Gender and Multiple Sources of Disadvantage to Achieve Learning. It was a great initiative, with a whole range of experts and advocates in the room, ranging from old hands to much young blood!
"It's important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone. Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty."
Our world is only three years away from the 2015 deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two global targets have been reached well ahead of schedule – according to preliminary estimates for extreme poverty the proportion of people living on less than a $1.25 a day has fallen below half its 1990 value. The same is true for the target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.
A few more MDGs are in sight of the finish line. These are primary school completion rate and gender equality in primary and secondary education.
However, some others will need a real push, particularly child and maternal mortality and access to improved sanitation facilities. Hence, it is too early to claim that the mission has been accomplished, especially when we look at individual countries and achievements per region. Disparities among regions and countries remain large and much remains to be done to make progress towards the MDGs a reality for all.
I have a love-hate relationship with Earth Day (April 22nd) . The concept and enthusiasm are great; but the faux commercial interests and token personal efforts make me uneasy. True, every little bit helps, but the ‘lots of little efforts’ are still way too little, and may actually distract us from the big changes needed.
All good ideas usually come from several sources; and once they get going, often head off in several directions. Earth Day is no exception. The first Earth Day had two sources. San Francisco, again showing that cities lead, first observed Earth Day on March 21, 1970. The idea was to help celebrate the Equinox (first day of spring in northern hemisphere). A few weeks later, a US Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, called for an environmental teach-in arguing:
“I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically.”
This is where I disagree. The facts are clear - and have been for a long time. The problem is we just don’t want to do the hard work that’s needed for any semblance of sustainability. We are very powerful procrastinators. So a few of us might as well turn off a light, or forgo the car while we wait to generate sufficient political and personal will to get on with the heavy lifting. But surely getting all these people thinking about, and working for, the environment can’t be a bad thing. Maybe it will help us act on the bigger stuff sooner.
This year, the World Bank’s spring meetings are offering a rare opportunity for the heads of the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the IMF to jointly talk to finance ministers from around the world about the critical importance of inclusive green growth and careful stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.
The venue is a breakfast meeting this morning with over 30 national finance ministers. The meeting will be private – and powerful. We’re hoping for an open and frank discussion among ministers on how to achieve concrete outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in June.
· My colleague Leora Klapper and manager Asli Demirguc-Kunt have just released new global data on financial access around the World called the Global Findex, funded by the Gates Foundation.
In stark contrast to a few years back, Latin Americans are deeply worried these days with a rising wave of crime and violence that is causing a huge loss of life and resources –and making people rethink the role of public and private sectors in fighting this scourge.
In debates across public fora and on social media platforms Latin Americans are more tolerant of the idea of private-public partnerships to fight crime.