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September 2013

Labbing and Learning: Scaling Innovation at the World Bank Group

Aleem Walji's picture

Aleem Walji, director of the World Bank’s Innovation Labs, recently gave an interview to Forbes and the Skoll World Forum on all things innovation and development. This blog post highlights some of the key points from that interview.

When I joined the World Bank at the end of 2009, I was asked how we could more systematically support innovation. We started by building on the Bank’s own “access to information” policy, which was foundational for our Open Data initiative. When we made our data available to the world in a machine-readable format, searchable, and reusable, back in April 2010, people came in droves. Within months, we had more traffic to our data catalogue than the World Bank homepage.

Another powerful insight we had was to link maps through “Mapping for Results” with poverty data and project results to show the relationship between where we lend, where poor people live, and the results of our work. While it may sound simple or obvious, even today development partners struggle to map the relationship between projects they fund and poverty indicators in a given country. We quickly realized the value of “mapping aid” and making aid data transparent and comparable. The Open Aid Partnership grew out of that impulse.

Ascending the CSO Engagement Continuum III – Operational Collaboration

John Garrison's picture

Operational collaboration between the World Bank and CSOs has grown significantly over the past two decades in such areas of health, education, and environment. Yet, because it largely occurs at the country level and within Bank-finance projects, this expanding collaboration is often not fully visible in Washington. As the latest edition of the World Bank–Civil Society Engagement Review of Fiscal Years 2010–12 demonstrates, important operational collaboration not only continued to grow over the past three years, but expanded to areas such as food security, disaster recovery, and access to information.  
 
In response to the global food crisis which began in 2008, for instance, CSOs in Africa and Asia participated in the delivery of government programs in 16 countries (through seed distribution, school feeding, and agricultural production programs) financed by the Bank’s $2 billion Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP).  CSOs were also asked to participate in the governance structure of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) which has allocated more than $400 million to projects in 12 countries.

A School Called Uruguay: Managing the Syrian Crisis while Investing in Long-Term Development

Simon Thacker's picture

It was once located on the grounds of the Uruguayan Embassy in Lebanon, and the name has somehow stuck. Now, Uruguay Elementary School is in a new building in an altogether different, bustling area of Beirut. It is hard to recognize it as a school at first: a seven-story building among other tall offices and manufacturing plants beside a major thoroughfare.

Video: Back to School 2013

Mourad Ezzine's picture

With newspaper headlines focused on violence and political upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa region, it is easy to forget that an annual beginning is also underway. Children from the Mashreq to the Maghreb have started going back to school. Parents are buying school supplies for little ones and millions of teenagers are going down a path that may shape their future careers. This week, Voices and Views presents Back to School 2013 - a series focused on the challenges that both teachers and students face in the region, and the policies and programs that can change a generation.

Prospects Daily: Asian stocks rally on signs of resilience in China,Turkey industrial output rises

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture
Financial Markets… US equities rose for a fifth day running while stocks in Asia extended their winning streak for the eight day running on Monday, on signs of resilience in the Chinese economy, and a strong upward revision to Q2 GDP growth in Japan. The Nikkei 225 Average closed up 2.2% and the Shanghai Composite climbed to three-month highs after rising 3.4 per cent%, while the S&P added 0.5% on Monday morning to last week’s 1.4% increase.
 

Myopia and (dis-)incentives - The political economy of managing risk

Jun Erik Rentschler's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'managing risk for development,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2014.

It is an old and well known criticism of electoral politics: the conflict between short political mandates and long term objectives. To galvanize political support, policy makers not rarely resort to “benevolent” political measures, such as short-sighted tax reductions or infrastructure investments, which are often more beneficial to their own election polls than to their electorate. Such political myopia is alarmingly common, and stands in the way of effective policy making in the long term interest of people.
Risk management is one of the fields in which effective action tends to be impaired by political myopia. For instance, implementing comprehensive regulation in the financial sector, or imposing stringent environmental requirements on certain industries, would help managing the risks of financial or environmental crises. Similarly, the installation of early warning systems for tsunamis or hurricanes could provide decisive information for preparation and timely evacuation. 

Rio de Janeiro's reforestation changes life in the favelas

Franka Braun's picture

It’s not easy to reach Morro da Formiga, a favela that perches precariously like a bird’s nest on the side of a cliff in the northern part of Rio de Janeiro. But once you get there, its dramatic view of lush forested hillsides is impressive. It wasn’t always like this though. Sixteen years ago, it was just a barren mountain with recurring mudslides threatening its residents.

Morro da Formiga is one of 144 sites of Rio’s reforestation program. I visited last week, together with a team from the Environmental Secretariat of Rio City Hall and a journalist from Agence France Presse.

morro-da-formiga
Morro da Formiga. Photo: Franka Braun


Since 1986, the Environmental Secretariat of Rio’s City Hall (SMAC) has led a community reforestation program and planted over six million seedlings on 2,200 hectares of land within the city limits. Rio had long suffered from deforestation of its hills as a result of development, causing soil erosion, sediment build-up in waterways, floods, landslides, and pools of water filled with disease-carrying mosquitos.

Grievances as a Public Good

Margaux Hall's picture

This summer, I made a project visit to a government clinic in northern Sierra Leone.  It is a clinic pretty much in name only, being constructed as 1-bedroom living quarters for a teacher and subsequently converted into a health facility.  The nurse took me on a tour, pointing out the problems: a broken scale to weigh infants, no waiting room for early stages of labor, animals grazing and

When ‘Scandals’ Bring Good News

Ivana Rossi's picture




The very word “scandal” has a negative connotation. The dictionary definition says scandals are “associated with a disgraceful action or circumstance, or an offense caused by fault or misdeed” – and therefore, by definition, scandals damage someone’s reputation. No one wants to be involved in a scandal.

But: What if something good could actually come out of a scandal? Could some scandals become the source of good news?

When it comes to the disclosure of financial and business interests by public officials, the eruption of a scandal evidently can produce positive results.

From the United States in the 1970s to the recent scandals involving high-profile public figures in France, along with countless other examples worldwide, many high-profile scandals provide the impetus for the establishment or reform of disclosure systems. Initially, scandals push the issue of public officials’ integrity to the forefront of public debate. Discussions get heated up by colorful articles in the media about public officials’ wealth, both legitimate and illegitimate.

But, fortunately, some countries manage to keep their focus on the most important aspects of public officials’ financial misdeeds, without becoming distracted by breathless media gossip about the size of their bank accounts or vacation homes. Some countries take the opportunity to realize that an effective disclosure system requires the real attention.


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