Syndicate content

December 2015

Supporting India’s next generation of bright tech and science minds

Jessica Lee's picture
Ajay (third from right) was a Mitacs Globalink research intern at the University of Toronto.


With the Indian economy poised to be among the fastest growing economies in the world, there is great demand for world-class engineers to drive domestic value-addition, innovation and make the economy even more competitive globally. In this context, the Indian government’s Technical/Engineering Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP), supported by the World Bank, has been working with engineering colleges across the country to make them more responsive to a rapidly changing technical environment.

Solar energy to bring jobs and prosperity back to parched villages

Amit Jain's picture
 
Villagers in Pavagada Taluk, Karnataka, India. Photo by Amit Jain / World Bank

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Bala who was born in a small village in Pavagada Taluk, Karnataka, where, agriculture was the main source of income—much like in many other villages in India. But as he grew up, he saw most of his friends choosing to move to cities, because scant rainfall had made it impossible to pursue agriculture and make enough money to make ends meet at home. Village elders turned to superstition to explain the phenomenon, while others blamed climate change for the drop in rainfall. Eventually, Bala also moved to the city of Bangalore, but always dreamed of bringing prosperity back to his village.

Looks like Bala’s dream will come true in 2016. Early next year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will break ground for one of the largest solar parks (2 GW) in the world—in Pavagada Taluk.

Italy’s first water sector public-private partnership and its implications for today

Nico Saporiti's picture
Villoresi irrigation canal in Italy
Credit: Nico Saporiti

The intake of the Villoresi irrigation canal is a monumental structure of classical beauty: it tames the blue waters of the River Ticino, just below the outlet of Lake Maggiore, and quenches the thirst of 85,000 hectares of otherwise dry land to the north of Milan.

This imposing project was designed, financed, and built entirely with private capital between 1877 and 1890. A 90-year concession was granted by the King of Italy only 15 days after receiving the investment proposal from the original investors. In 1918, farmers formed a consortium of water users and took over the concession and the infrastructure.

With such a head start in the development of water sector public-private partnerships (PPPs), one would imagine that in Italy such contracts would be widespread and well known. In fact, the opposite is true, and the political debate around the meaning of private sector participation in water services is as heated, alive, and confused as ever. A leading national newspaper printed, in the same edition, one article broadly supportive of a popular movement against private involvement in water service providers, and another article denouncing a case of pollution by a (public) water company that had been discharging untreated sewage and hazardous waste in the Bay of Naples.

The impact of the global financial crisis on the use of long-term finance

Thierry Tressel's picture

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, there were heightened concerns that a reduced availability of long-term finance and the resulting rollover risks would adversely affect the performance of small and medium-sized firms and hamper large fixed investments. Policy makers argued that, as a result, developing countries’ ability to sustain rates of economic growth sufficiently high to reduce poverty and ensure shared prosperity would be diminished. Recently, as corporates of emerging markets have benefited from favorable global liquidity conditions to issue long-term bonds, policy discussions focused on the stability risks of high leverage that could materialize when monetary conditions normalize.

The welfare of Syrian refugees and the way forward

Paolo Verme's picture
In Pictures: Syrian Refugees Living in Jordan and Lebanon
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, over 6.5 million of the country’s people have been internally displaced and almost 4.4 million are registered refugees, which amounts to about half of Syria’s pre-crisis population. Nearly 1.7 million people have fled to neighboring Jordan and Lebanon. Prior to becoming refugees, many had suffered repeated shocks within Syria, leading them eventually to abandon their assets, property, and capital to seek safety in the neighboring countries.

The Syrian crisis has now become one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. The numbers are staggering. About half of the Syrian pre-conflict population has been displaced, over 200,000 people have been killed, millions of Syrians have been injured or traumatized and millions more have fled to neighboring countries and elsewhere. Yet, we know surprisingly little about the actual living conditions of those who are suffering from the crisis. For the people who have remained in Syria, information is either very scarce or unavailable. For the people affected by the Syrian crisis who have migrated to Europe, we have mostly anecdotal information that mixes victims of the Syrian crisis with other types of migrants. For those Syrians who have fled to neighboring countries and registered as refugees, we have a substantial amount of information but to date this information has been little exploited to study the welfare of refugees.

Who will fund poverty surveys in “Volkswagen” countries?

Johannes Hoogeveen's picture

It must not have been easy to be a statistician at Volkswagen. At least Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of the car company, may not have been very fond of them.
 
Independent researchers published data showing how cars produced by Volkswagen were anything but the “clean diesels” they were proclaimed to be. In fact, the cars were shown to be very polluting, pumping out up to 40 times the allowed level of nitrogen oxide. Statistics revealed the truth, and the once powerful CEO is now a person in disgrace who may have to spend time in jail.
 
Countries are not companies, and a country’s leader is not to be compared with the CEO. Still, at times, their behavior reminds one of the self-interested take on life one expects from the head of a profit-maximizing company but not from an official representing its people. Countries with such self-interested profit maximizing leaders, let’s call them “Volkswagen” countries, prefer their statistical systems to be underfunded and of low capacity. It prevents the false claims about the country’s successes from being uncovered.

Corruption in fragile states: A panel discussion on the intersections of development, conflict and exploitation

Roxanne Bauer's picture

Just say NO to corruptionCorruption is a global threat to development and democratic rule. It diverts public resources to private interests, leaving fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and other public facilities. When development money is diverted to private bank accounts, major infrastructure projects and badly needed human services come to a halt. Corruption also hinders democratic governance by destroying the rule of law, the integrity of institutions, and public trust in leaders. Sadly, the vulnerable suffer first and worst when corruption takes hold.

In fragile environments, however, the effects of corruption can be far more expensive. Corruption fuels extremism and undermines international efforts to build peace and security.

This was the theme of a panel discussion, entitled “Corruption in Fragile States: The Development Challenge,” which brought together Leonard McCarthy, the World Bank’s Vice President of Integrity; Jan Walliser, the World Bank Vice President of Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions; Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Chief Economist of Middle East & North Africa; R. David Harden, USAID Mission Director for West Bank and Gaza; Daniel Kaufmann, President of Natural Resource Governance Institute; and Melissa Thomas, Political Scientist and author of “Govern Like Us.”

Pitfalls and stumbling blocks: the challenge to being a social enterprise (part 2)

Dr. Shelly Batra's picture
Ask anyone who has started a social enterprise what their biggest challenge would be, and I bet they would mention something about a regulatory framework. As mentioned in my previous blog, government regulations can be tedious, burdensome, and difficult to wade through.

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 


Pages