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December 2012

Nutrition in Latin America: a policy menu to improve emergency responses

Marie Chantal Messier's picture

También disponible en español y portugués

Women and children first! Sound familiar? The gentlemanly rule of Titanic-fame seems to have expanded in our collective minds to all emergency situations.

It seems, though, that in Latin America and the Caribbean this time-honored rule is not written in stone. As it turns out, women and children are generally not at the forefront of public efforts in crises and emergency situations.

How Japanese shoppers helped bring elephants back to an Indian forest

Saori Imaizumi's picture

Organic cotton farmers, Golamunda village in Orissa, 2010What if your shopping sprees could make both you and society happy? That every time you bought your favorite clothes, you also benefitted the poor and the environment? Some Japanese companies are indeed making this happen.

As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, Felissimo, a Japanese direct marketing and product design company funded the planting of trees in Orissa and West Bengal in India, where they source their materials from. By charging an extra dollar on every sale in Japan, they collected more than $4,850,000 over 15 years and used the funds to transform a degraded landscape into a forest, bringing elephants back into the area.

In a similar manner, the company also helped cotton farmers in Orissa switch to growing organic cotton to save their land, their workers, and their children from harm caused by fertilizers and pesticides. Between 2010 and 2012, about 5,900 farmers switched to organic farming in 5 villages. Consumer donations were channelized through a local NGO to help farmers make the transition. The money was also used to give scholarships to local children. In 2012 alone, around 250 students in 5 villages received scholarships. While the scale is still small, Felissimo has successfully created a funding mechanism to transform responsible purchasing behavior in one part of the world into social impact in distant lands through its CSR activities.

#9 from 2012: 'Why Nations Fail': The Constitutionalists Were Right All Along

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2012

Originally published on May 1, 2012

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have produced a magisterial book: ‘Why Nations Fail’. If you are interested in governance, nay, if you are interested in development, you should read it. I picked it up the week it was published and I could not put it down until it was done. That is how powerful and well-written it is. Yet it is over 500 pages long. In what follows, I am going to focus on what I liked about it and the thoughts it provoked in me as I read it.

First, I admire the simplicity and power of the thesis: what the historical evidence suggests is that nations with inclusive political and economic institutions are capable of sustained growth. Nations with extractive political and economic institutions are not. End of story. Even when an authoritarian state/regime appears to engineer economic growth for a while, it will hit a limit soon enough. Why? Human creativity, human inventiveness and necessary creative destruction of old ways of doing things cannot happen in authoritarian environments. Vested interests are able all too easily to block threatening entrants to the economy; property rights are not secure and so on. Those who control political institutions use their power to extract surpluses in often brutal ways. Key quote:

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Pew Research Center
Arab Publics Most Likely to Express Political Views Online Social Networking Popular Across Globe

“Social networking has spread around the world with remarkable speed. In countries such as Britain, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic and Spain, about half of all adults now use Facebook and similar websites. These sites are also popular in many lower-income nations, where, once people have access to the internet, they tend to use it for social networking.

Meanwhile, cell phones have become nearly ubiquitous throughout much of the world, and people are using them in a variety of ways, including texting and taking pictures. Smart phones are also increasingly common – roughly half in Britain, the U.S., and Japan have one. Globally, most smart phone users say they visit social networking sites on their phone, while many get job, consumer, and political information.”  READ MORE

International Debt Statistics: Open Data on a wider scale

Ibrahim Levent's picture

For over three decades debt statistics published by the World Bank have provided the authoritative accounting of the external debt of developing countries. Governments, investors and bankers, academics, and journalists have relied on them to identify financial trends and vulnerabilities.

Speeding up affordable access to broadband Internet in MENA

Michel Rogy's picture

Ensuring that backbone telecommunications networks are widely accessible, of good quality, and delivered efficiently and competitively is critical to boosting productivity and international competitiveness in the MENA region. They are major determinants of production costs and speeding up affordable access to broadband Internet will ultimately result in higher employment, growth, and improved living standards.

Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities & Challenges in MENA: Presentations from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

In September 2012 and as part of its Brown Bag Lunch (BBL) series, the Development Marketplace (DM) team hosted a discussion entitled Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities & Challenges in MENA: Presentations from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine where we invited Synergos Social Innovators to share their experiences from the region.

Much like the kinds of social enterprises the DM hopes to support in Egypt, Synergos also supports social innovators in the region to fulfill unmet needs for the poor and marginalized. Synergos is a non-profit that mobilizes resources and bridges social and economic divides to reduce poverty and increase equity around the world.

The Synergos Arab World Social Innovators (AWSI) program was launched in 2008 with leadership and funding from the US Agency for International Development. AWSI supports nearly 40 civil society leaders serving poor and marginalized communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates. Social innovators are pioneers of change in their communities and offer original approaches, methods, and solutions to address social and economic problems.

For more information on the event you can access the full report here.

A Look Back at 2012: Year in Review

Maureen Hoch's picture

Read this post in Français | Español

As 2012 draws to a close, we're looking back at some key moments in the Bank's work this year. From financial inclusion to food prices to #whatwillittake and more, explore this slideshow for our Year in Review.

To view this slideshow on a tablet or mobile device, click here.

South Asia Region Imagining a More United Society

Ravi Kumar's picture

To help bridge cultural divides in South Asia, the World Bank recently sponsored an art contest in the region -- Imagining our Future Together. The contest attracted more than 1,000 pieces of art from more than 231 artists born after 1974. Twenty-five winning artworks have been displayed in New Delhi, India, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and will next be on display at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., in January.

#10 from 2012: Technology Drives Citizen Participation and Feedback in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Tiago Carneiro Peixoto's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2012

Originally published on May 29, 2012

A common theme in the field of open government refers to the use of technologies as a means to foster citizen engagement. A closer examination, however, shows that most initiatives facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICT) have been characterized by low levels of citizen engagement.

In Brazil, the state of Rio Grande do Sul stands out as an exception. For instance, in a recent web-based policy crowdsourcing initiative supported by the ICT4Gov Program of the World Bank Institute (WBI) and the Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA), “Governador Pergunta” (“The Governor Asks”), citizens were invited to co-design solutions to address health challenges in the state. The process has generated over 1,300 proposals, with more than 120,000 votes cast on the prioritization of the different proposals.


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