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April 2013

Latin America: Should this Earth Day be different from others?

Karin Erika Kemper's picture

También disponible en español e português

It’s tempting to think that this is just another Earth Day – after all, it has been celebrated since 1970. But perhaps this year should be different, at least in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year marks the third year of drought for Northeast Brazil - still affecting some 10 million people, according to recent reports; a year when Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro suffered torrential rains and floods, impacting hundreds of thousands of people in these large metropolitan areas.

Reaching the Classroom Is Just the First Step

In his recent Huffington Post blog, World Bank President Jim Kim spoke about how the learning crisis is one of the greatest obstacles to development. According to the United Nations, an estimated 171 million people can lift themselves out of poverty if all students in poor countries acquired basic reading skills.

Quote of the Week: Theresa Marteau

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“We are exquisitely sensitive to environment. We are just like rats – energy misers and cognitive misers. If there is a shortcut, we will take it.”

--Theresa Marteau, Head of the Behavior and Health Research Unit at Cambridge University

As quoted in the Financial Times, March 13, 2013. Drinking yourself to death is not a right, by John Gapper

Mainstream Media for Social and Financial Change

Bilal Zia's picture

 

Financial illiteracy remains a pressing problem in the developing world and a myriad of financial literacy programs are now underway to educate and help poor individuals make informed financial decisions. Research on the effectiveness of such programs lags considerably behind implementation, but several evaluations are now underway to understand mechanisms of impact.

But even the best designed, most attractive education tools may fail to reach everyone in a cost-effective manner; and not everyone in the target audience may be interested in taking time out of their daily lives to attend such sessions.

In recent research in South Africa, a colleague of mine, Gunhild Berg, and I tested the idea of taking financial education to the masses without disrupting their daily routines, and without incurring exorbitant production and delivery costs. And we did it, of course, by turning to television!

An Accounting System Worthy of Earth Day: Natural Capital Accounting

Rachel Kyte's picture
When presidents, prime ministers, and government ministers of more than 60 nations put their countries’ names behind natural capital accounting last year at Rio+20, something shifted. Countries wanted a better way of measuring progress that went beyond GDP and factored in nature and its services.

Clearly that was no flash in the pan. Last week, I chaired a high-level ministerial dialogue on the margins of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings where government ministers and senior representatives of more than 40 countries came together to compare notes on how natural capital accounting is working for them.

Country after country – represented by finance, development, or environment ministers – talked about how natural capital accounting fit their countries’ priorities and how it could be a tool to address some of their key policy challenges. With each statement from the floor, it was clear that natural capital accounting is no longer an academic concept. It is alive and well and being utilized across the world in developing, middle, and high-income countries.

Investing in Girls and Women = A More Prosperous World: Equal Futures Partnership

Donna Barne's picture

Available in Français, 中文

Gender equality is smart economics. That’s an observation that has gained wide acceptance, if not equally wide application. But for 23 countries in the Equal Futures Partnership, breaking down barriers to women’s economic and political empowerment has become a commitment.

Equal Futures Partnership Roundtable

KNOMAD is now operational/New outlook for migration and remittances 2013-15 issued

Dilip Ratha's picture

 The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) is shifting gears --- it has officially graduated from inception phase to being operational. An official launch event is being organized today, on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International monetary Fund (IMF). We’ve also held a meeting of the chairs and co-chairs of KNOMAD’s thematic working groups and will soon share with you the way forward.

Missing Perspectives on MOOCs -- Views from developing countries

Michael Trucano's picture
some different perspectives, perhaps? please?
some different perspectives, perhaps? please?

Excited discussions about 'MOOCs' are reaching a fever pitch in some quarters. Separating the hope from the hype related to the phenomenon known as Massive Open Online Courses, in which tens, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of students from around the world participate in (or at least register for) the same university course over the Internet, is not an easy task. There is, to be sure, much here to be potentially excited about.

That said, most of news (and hype) is coming out of North America, and the prominent perspectives on MOOCs are, to a great extent, coming out of North America as well. While voices from Silicon Valley and elite educational institutions in the United States (amplified by prominent media personalities) have been the loudest to date, a fair component of the 'hope' surrounding MOOCs has to do with their potential to improve educational opportunities for students in so-called 'developing countries'.

Trying to keep up with MOOC-related announcements and news stories, let alone all of the opinions on them and speculations on their future, could be a full time job. (I suspect it probably is a full time job for some people, actually. If you are interested in this sort of thing but don't have that much time, you may be interested in a recent EduTech post on Making Sense of MOOCs -- A Reading List.) Wander through this din of excitement, however, and you discover pockets of relative silence.

What are some of the emerging perspectives of key groups in developing countries related to MOOCs?

Fixing Fraud in Public-Private Projects

Leonard McCarthy's picture

Available in 中文

What’s a cash-tight government to do when it wants to modernize a hospital, build a railway, or expand the power grid to reach underserved areas? It might explore outside, private sources of financing—that’s where public-private partnerships (PPPs) come in.   The acronym has a promising ring to it, yet going back to the 1970s, its impact has been mixed.  At their best, PPPs can provide rapid injections of cash from private financiers, delivery of quality services, and overall cost-effectiveness the public sector can’t achieve on its own.

But at their worst, PPPs can also drive up costs, under-deliver services, harm the public interest, and introduce new opportunities for fraud, collusion, and corruption.  Our experience at the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency is that because PPPs most often are geared toward providing essential public services in infrastructure, health and education, the integrity risks inherent in these sectors also transfer to PPPs.

On April 17, the Integrity Vice Presidency convened a public discussion on corruption in PPPs (pdf) bringing together finance, energy, and fairness-monitoring perspectives.  Looking at the landscape, in the last eight years, 134 developing countries have implemented PPPs in infrastructure, and in the last decade the World Bank has approved some $23 billion lending and risk guarantee operations in support of PPPs.


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