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January 2017

In India, a hospital that’s just what the doctor ordered

Pankaj Sinha's picture


Ask any resident of Romania whether their roads are safe and they will answer a resounding “no”. In 2016, fatalities on Romania's road reached 1,913 - more than double the number of fatalities compared with the EU-28 average of 925. Romania’s average fatality rate over the past six years has consistently been twice higher than the EU-28 average, registering around 91 fatalities per million people, compared to 51 for the rest of the EU.
 
Alarmingly, Romania’s fatality rate keeps increasing - reaching 95 per million people in 2016. In addition to the human tragedy this situation represents a huge economic cost. According to the General Transport Master Plan, costs of fatal road crashes in Romania are alarmingly high - estimated to be at least 1.2 billion euro (5.4 billion RON) per year.

Testing water quality: When labs don’t work

Pratibha Mistry's picture

I just flew in to Cancun this afternoon.  The sun’s shining. The sea is blue. The Moon Palace – the site of the negotiations – is a beautiful resort with its own one-kilometer white sandy beach. Jackets and ties are discouraged, and many delegates are wearing the traditional Mexican guayaberas. 

 

The Mexican hosts have done an outstanding job –in diplomacy and logistics – in preparing for this event. So why do the tourists look like they’re having a better time than the delegates?

 

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres speaking at the opening ceremony. Photo by IISDBecause nobody knows how this will turn out. Everybody feels that somebody else should be putting more on the table, and some are expressing this with great emotion. The excitement of a possible deal last year in Copenhagen is gone. There is no home run, slam dunk or hole in one in the offing. The analogy is now from American Football: It’s about moving the ball patiently down the field with the hope of an eventual touchdown next year, the one after, or five years from now. Above all, don’t drop the ball, or we could lose ground fast.   

 

But this cautious view short-changes what Cancun should achieve. The package of decisions that is being negotiated is highly consequential, and could significantly improve the prospects of a pro-poor climate-friendly future.

 

So, what would success look like at the end of this 12 day marathon? By the end of this meeting we could have the following:

 

1.       Forests: The first globally agreed REDD+ partnership providing sufficient funding for investments, performance-based payments, and readiness for future carbon market inclusion – thus ensuring that forests are more valued alive than dead.  

 

2.       Adaptation:  A framework for ensuring the fair and adequate allocation of resources for climate resilient growth, with special attention to the most vulnerable countries, and a process for ensuring lesson learning and technical assistance on this urgent agenda.

Tripling tobacco taxes: Key for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

Prabhat Jha's picture

Coal has been a mainstay of Indian energy. It accounts for 63% of India’s energy consumption, and demand is set to grow dramatically over the coming decades. Coal use for electricity generation is projected to grow 2% every year, almost doubling its share of India’s generating capacity by 2030. According to the International Energy Agency, India is likely to become the second-largest consumer of coal, surpassing the United States in the next five years.

Because coal is both cheap and abundant domestically, it may seem like the perfect solution to India’s energy and electricity woes. However, using coal comes with severe health, environmental, and economic effects. As quality of life improves for most Indians on one hand from economic progress, many could be subject to the vagaries of this dirty pollutant. Also, as the world moves closer to a consensus on climate change, using coal at this growing rate may become untenable.

Two recent studies shed light on the huge environmental damage that is done by coal-fired power plants in India. Professor Maureen Cropper and her co-authors at the University of Maryland estimated premature cardiopulmonary deaths associated with air emissions from 89 power plants from all over India. Last week, Professor Cropper presented their analysis in a World Bank seminar. Their study attributes on average 650 deaths per plant per year to directly emitted sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions from coal plants.

Another recent study published by Greenpeace and authored by Sarath Guttikunda and Puja Jawahar presents more dramatic results than the Cropper study. It suggests that in 2011-2012, emissions from Indian coal plants resulted in 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths and more than 20 million asthma cases from exposure to particulate pollution with an associated cost of $3.3 billion to $4.6 billion.

Getting a global initiative off the ground: What can transport learn from energy?

Nancy Vandycke's picture

In May last year, key stakeholders joined the World Bank Group in calling for global and more concerted action to address the climate impact of transport while ensuring mobility for everyone. More recently, the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport noted, in its final recommendations to Ban Ki-Moon, emphasized the need for “coalitions or partnership networks” to “strengthen coherence” for scaling up sustainable transport, as well as establishing monitoring and evaluation frameworks. These issues have been raised at Habitat III, COP22 and at the Global Sustainable Transport Conference in Ashgabat.
 
As the global community readies itself to move from commitments to implementation, what can transport learn from similar initiatives in other sectors, such as Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All)?

Investment slump clouds growth prospects

Franziska Ohnsorge's picture

Investment growth in emerging market and developing economies has tumbled from 10 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent in 2015 and was below its long-term average in nearly 70 percent of emerging an developing economies in 2015. This slowing trend is expected to persist, and is occurring despite large unmet investment needs, including substantial gaps in infrastructure, education, and health systems.

Experiments in Development from Every Angle: A Review of Tim Ogden's new book

David Evans's picture
Financial Markets… Global equities and the dollar slumped on Monday as concerns about a looming U.S. government shutdown (its first one in 17 years) rattled investor sentiment. The benchmark MSCI world equity index fell 1% as the MSCI Asia Pacific Index tumbled 1.5%, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1%, and the S&P 500 index slumped 0.8% in morning trading session. The dollar was down 0.6% against basket of six major currencies (measured by DXY index), especially against the Japanese yen and the Swiss Franc. In contrast, U.S.

Assessing disaster risk in Europe and Central Asia – what did we learn?

Alanna Simpson's picture
Heavy rains on June 13-14, 2015 caused a 1 million cubic-meter landslide to flow down the Vere River valley and damage the capital city of Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Across the Europe and Central Asia region today, policymakers are confronted daily with a wide range of development challenges and decisions, but the potential impacts of adverse natural events and climate change – such as earthquakes or flooding – may not always be first and foremost in their thoughts.

Admittedly, the region does not face the same daunting disaster risks as some other parts of the world – especially in South Asia, East Asia and Latin America – but nevertheless, it is far from immune to the effects of natural hazards – as the past clearly reminds us.

Quote of the week: Yuval Noah Harari

Sina Odugbemi's picture
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Yuval_Noah_Harari_photo.jpg"So how should we proceed in 2017? The first step is to tone down the prophecies of doom, and swap panic for bewilderment. Panic is a form of hubris. It comes from the feeling that one knows exactly where the world is heading. Bewilderment is more humble and therefore clear-sighted. If you feel tempted to declare that the apocalypse is upon us, try telling yourself instead: ‘The truth is, I just don't understand what's going on in the world.’”

- Yuval Noah Harari - lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Quoted in Financial Times print edition January 7, 2017 "Opinion" by Yuval Noah Harari.

Photo credit: By CityTree [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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How to manage revenues from extractives? There’s a book for that!

Rolando Ossowski's picture
 
Offshore oil and rig platform. Photo: © curraheeshutter / Shutterstock.


Countries with large nonrenewable resources can benefit significantly from them, but reliance on revenues from these sources poses major challenges for policy makers. If you are a senior ministry of finance official in a resource-rich country, what are the challenges that you would face and how can you strengthen the fiscal management of your country’s oil and mineral revenues? Consider some of the issues that you would likely encounter:

For many resource abundant countries, large and unpredictable fluctuations in fiscal revenues are a fact of life. Resource revenues are highly volatile and subject to uncertainty. Fiscal policies will need to be framed to support macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth, while sensibly managing fiscal risks. Also, there is a question of how to decouple public spending (which should be relatively stable) from the short-run volatility of resource prices.

Providing better education for children in Thailand’s small schools

Lars Sondergaard's picture



During a recent trip to Udon Thani, we visited several small schools in the outskirts of the city. In several ways, these small schools were typical of Thailand’s 15,000 schools with less than 120 students.
 
In past decades, the schools had nearly three times as many students but, over time, their enrollment numbers had gradually fallen as a result of shrinking birth numbers; and with better roads that allowed some families to place their children in better schools located in Udon Thani city itself.  
 
Several other schools were located in their close vicinity. In fact, a total of seven schools – many of which had also shrunk into small schools – were now located within a 3-kilometer radius.
 
The schools struggled to provide quality education for their students because they had a hard time attracting and retaining qualified teachers. During our visit, the principal of one of the schools explained that the school had no qualified English language teacher and that many of their teachers were recent, and mostly inexperienced university graduates. The principal feared that many of these new teachers would only stay at the school for a short while before seeking to move to Udon Thani city or another urban area, and to teach at a city school.


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