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December 2015

Tunisian youth and security, five years after the revolution

Christine Petré's picture
Tunisian man standing in front of El Jem amphitheater in Tunisia Shutterstock l Eric Fahrner

The five-year-anniversary of the Tunisian revolution comes shortly after the Quartet accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The prize was awarded in recognition of its commitment to dialogue and consensus during one of the country’s most challenging periods. Yet the anniversary is overshadowed by this year’s three terrorist attacks. 

International migration at all-time high, but far short of what is needed

Dilip Ratha's picture

In observance of the International Migrants’ Day, December 18th

“International migration at all-time high,” that’s the headline of our press release (Also available in: Español | Français | русскийالعربية). We decided to release an advance edition of Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 today, to mark the International Migrants’ Day. Yet, by all means the level of international migration is not too high: at 250 million, it is only 3.4 percent of world population, only slightly higher than 3.0 percent in 1990. Compared to the growth of international trade and investment flows, the increase in international migration is negligible. The world needs more migration, for growth, for reducing poverty, for sharing prosperity. But it can’t, because “we” don’t want too many of “them”. Even if that makes both us and them poorer, our societies less interesting, and not necessarily safer.

The Starting Point for Social Inclusion: Oneness

Colleen Thouez's picture
Our collective understanding of the connection between migration and development has progressed in the last 15 years such that migration is no longer viewed exclusively as a development failure; it is also recognized that migration is tightly linked to development and growth. Indeed, migrants can and do have enormous potential to contribute to the development of their countries of origin and destination.

Such “conceptual awakenings” add clarity to our understanding of the central elements of a global challenge thereby enlightening our path towards collectively meeting it.

Reducing remittance costs and the financing for development strategy

Supriyo De's picture

In observance of International Migrants’ Day, December 18th
 
For a multimedia presentation with a first-hand account of a person sending remittances see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUa6NEECyH8
 
Reducing remittance costs are a vital element of the Financing for Development strategy. It has been incorporated as a target in the Sustainable Development Goals (the broad set of global strategies and targets for setting the development agenda up to 2030) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (the strategies to finance those development goals). Unlike most domestic resources (such as tax revenues redistributed as grants or public goods) or external resources (for example, foreign direct investment or overseas development assistance), remittances sent by migrants reach households directly. They are however, a private resource, and its deployment is best left at the household level.

Labor migration costs – Too high for low-skilled workers

Soonhwa Yi's picture

In observance of International Migrants’ Day, December 18th
 
In 2012, a 29-year old Pakistani went to Saudi Arabia to work as a driver. To get the job, he paid some 15 percent of his prospective 3-year income, or $4,800, almost half of what he would be earning in a year in Saudi Arabia. Although he found the job through a relative, most of what he paid went for a visa ($3,800). He worked 11 hours a day and earned $880 a month, far higher than what he earned in Pakistan but lower than what Saudis earn. He sent about 60 percent of his earnings home to support four family members. He was unable to freely express his views, and his travel documents were held by his employer.

What’s next for the Competitive Cities initiative: 'To travel far, let's travel together'

Ceci Sager's picture



“I wish that I had had this [report] when I started. . . . It has some great things that we found out over a long period time 
–  in many cases, through trial and error. And so, when I read it, I said, 'Wow, we are doing these things, but it did take us awhile to buy into these things.' It is going to be very informative to cities around the worlld.” 
– Tracey A. Nichols, Director of Economic Development, City of Cleveland


The World Bank Group launched the Competitive Cities report on December 10 – “Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth: What, Who and How,” which represents almost two years of research and analysis to put together a reliable, comprehensive and unified body of work. It is aimed primarily to help cities formulate and implement economic development strategies, and it is intended to be used by city leaders  themselves.
 
The report was launched jointly by the senior directors of two Global Practices at the Bank Group: the Trade and Competitiveness and the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience practices. The roundtable discussion included academics, policymakers, senior World Bank advisors, and representatives from the private sector. The Bank Group's stately Old Board Room was filled to overflowing, and the audience was particularly appreciative of the video animation summarizing the central ideas within the Competitive Cities report. The twitter feed associated with the event (#competitivecities) was inundated with live tweets. Supportive analyses in the news media – for instance, in the Huffington Post by Marcelo Giugale and at CityLab by Richard Florida – focused supportive news coverage on the event.

The launch of the report is much more than a flash in the pan. The report itself is only the start: What follows is the rollout, the active dissemination to regional task teams and city leaders, and the setting-in-motion of the findings of the report, which focuses on sub-national growth and job creation. These are some of the events we have planned:

  • Events in the various World Bank Group regions, to share the general framework and also to customize the findings of relevance to each specific region.  So far, we are considering events in Singapore, Sydney, Dar Es Salaam and potentially cities in the Middle East, North and West Africa, and in the Caribbean. If your city is interested in hosting a regional event, we would be pleased to hear from you.
  • A three-day interactive executive training course on competitive cities, which is aimed at city mayors and economic development advisors to cities.
  • An operational guide to help configure competitive cities into World Bank lending projects and advisory services, including deep dives for regional and country task teams. Let us know if you’re particularly interested in hosting such a training session in your region.

Read these 12 good governance blog posts before the year ends

Ravi Kumar's picture
As the year is coming to an end, we wanted to thank our readers for contributing, commenting, and sharing our blog posts!

We wanted to curate to some of the best blog posts from 2015 in hope to help stimulate debate on how governments can help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. 

HIV in the Philippines: Up close and personal

Rennan Ocheda's picture
As a nurse manager assigned to the Taguig City Social Hygiene Clinic and Drop-In Center for more than a year now, I have gone through unpredictable, funny, scary, sad, happy, thrilling and worthwhile experiences that even in my wildest dreams I never imagined would happen in my life.
 
The days that I spent on the Big Cities project taught me how to handle different people from all walks of life, who were diagnosed HIV positive. Working there, I learned that HIV/AIDS does not choose its victims, whether rich or poor.
 
One of them happened to be my close friend. I really didn’t know how to tell him about his HIV status. It was hard… really hard to be his HIV counselor. It was difficult putting myself in his shoes, for example, when this diagnosis must’ve felt like the end of the world for him. But I knew that I had to be strong for my friend.
 
I wondered how I could help him if I wasn’t strong myself, so I promised him that I would do my best to support him, which was similar to what I do for other people living with HIV.
 

How can we reduce the impact of natural disasters on schools?

Vica Rosario Bogaerts's picture
Making schools resilient to the impact of disasters is arguably a no-brainer. Who would ever disagree with the need to make sure children are safe when they’re in school? Nobody.

And yet, schools continue to be destroyed when disasters strike – putting children at risk and disrupting education.

Why? Simply put, countries face a number of technical challenges to make their schools resilient. And I saw it firsthand during a visit to Mozambique, where lack of capacity hampered the government’s efforts to build safer schools. A few years back the Ministry of Education introduced a new form of school construction, involving a pre-fabricated steel frame. While in theory this technique makes construction faster and structures more reliable in the event of a disaster, reality is more complicated. The skilled labor required to use the steel frames was not always available, sometimes resulting in delays and additional costs in remote areas.

Another common challenge relates to the availability of risk information needed to identify safe locations where new schools can be built. In Indonesia for example, local communities are typically in the lead when it comes to deciding where a school will be built. And if they are not aware of potential hazards, they will likely decide to build schools on marginal lands with low economic value which are often highly exposed to hazards, such as flooding and landslides.

But these technical challenges only tell part of the story. Things become more complex when we factor in political incentives. Population growth and progress towards universal primary and secondary education have put pressure on decision makers to step up the construction of new schools. Because success is often measured in terms of number of classrooms, quantity is sometimes favored over quality, skewing incentives toward unsafe building practices. Likewise, improving the safety of existing schools can be a costly investment, and therefore a difficult decision.

Why agricultural product standards matter for small traders in developing countries

Ana Fernandes's picture

The successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has generated a lot of interest. While much of the discussion has focused on what the mega-regional trade agreement – the largest in a generation – means for environmental or labor standards, equally important are the regulatory standards on agricultural and food products known as Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, which are addressed in Chapter 7 of the agreement.  
 
But how much do SPS standards really matter for trade?
 
Countries impose food safety standards for good reason, namely to protect the health of domestic consumers. However, domestic food safety standards often deviate from international ones. From an exporter’s point of view, such standards are likely to be seen as barriers to entry. Producers must modify production processes in order to meet each individual market’s product regulations, which raises the cost of the product for consumers. Economists and policy-makers are hungry for micro-level evidence on the effects of such standards on trade.
 
New World Bank Group research (Fernandes, Ferro, Wilson 2015) offers a first look at how a specific set of mandatory product standards—in this case, the maximum pesticide residue permitted on unprocessed food—impacts exporters. Novel firm-level data for exporters from 42 developing countries from 2006-2012 were analyzed along with data on pesticide standards for 243 agricultural and food products in 63 importing countries. We found that pesticide standards differ greatly across countries.


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