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The World Region

Seeing the forests and the trees

Gwendolyn Stansbury's picture

Forests and trees are sources of energy, food, shelter, and medicine—and, as such, contribute in multiple ways to reducing food insecurity, supporting sustainable livelihoods, and alleviating poverty.

But measuring forests’ socioeconomic benefits has been difficult due to methodological limitations and the lack of reliable data. As a consequence, the contribution of forests to sustainable development is not only underestimated, but is in some cases invisible, preventing policy makers from considering forest production and consumption benefits when developing social-welfare policies.

A new multi-partner publication provides a landmark contribution to data collection on the socioeconomic benefits of forests. Countries can use the modules and guidance in the book to help close the information gap on the multiple relationships between household welfare and forests. This, in turn, will help capture the true value of forests and other environmental products in gross domestic product measurements and increase understanding of their roles in livelihoods, ultimately leading to evidence-based policy decisions that ensure appropriate recognition of the socioeconomic benefits of forests in post-2015 development programs.

The publication is the result of collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), International Forestry Resources and Institutions (IFRI) Network, and the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team and Program on Forests (PROFOR).

Link to the webcast publication launch:

For practical guidance on household survey design, visit the LSMS Guidebooks page: 

Data needs to be local, equitable and collaborative

Haishan Fu's picture
Opening Session at IODC 2016

Earlier this month, over 1,500 people gathered in Madrid for the International Open Data Conference 2016. The World Bank is proud to be a co-organizer of this series of conferences which brings together the global community to shape the future of open data. I was asked to share our thinking on what’s on the horizon for open data and I’ve highlighted a few key ideas below.

Before I carry on though - a quick personal note. Being in Madrid reminded me of my first trip to the city 18 years ago, a few days before I took a new job as the chief of statistics at the UNDP's Human Development Report. Little did I know, while enjoying tapas before flying to New York, that a big part of my job was to become good friends with other international organizations, including the World Bank, so we could get, for free, in Excel sheets, the data they compile and disseminate, often through publication sales.

How things have changed since then with the Open Data Initiative! Now open data accounts for almost two thirds of all web traffic to the Bank and is freely available for anybody to access and use. I’d like to acknowledge my predecessor, Shaida Badiee, for having led the team to make open data happen at the World Bank six years ago, and for continuing to be a force for open data as head of Open Data Watch.

OPEC’S grip on oil prices may be slipping: A historical perspective

John Baffes's picture

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) unsettled oil markets in September when it announced it would resume placing limits on oil production among its members, effectively reversing two years of unrestrained production.

But how much control can OPEC really exert over prices? History suggests that formal agreements to influence the price of a particular commodity eventually fall apart. OPEC’s own history also shows that the short term benefits of managing supplies become long term liabilities. In addition, the oil producing landscape has changed dramatically in recent years with the advent of nonconventional producers, notably the U.S. shale oil industry. These factors will test the oil exporting organization’s power to influence markets.

Chart: Where is Gender Discrimination in Business Regulated?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

60% of economies do not have laws mandating gender nondiscrimination in hiring and equal remuneration. Such laws are more common in OECD high-income economies, followed by economies in Europe and Central Asia. Gender equality can make institutions more representative, improve social cohesion and increase productivity.

Prices seen rising for oil and other commodities in 2017

John Baffes's picture

Prices for most commodities, including oil, are forecast to rise in 2017 as a long period of declining prices appears to be bottoming out, according to the October Commodities Markets Outlook.

Oil prices are forecast to rise to $55 per barrel next year from $43 per barrel in 2016 as markets readjust after an era of abundant supply that outpaced demand. Energy prices, which also include coal and natural gas, are forecast to jump 24 percent in the coming year. The decision in September of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to resume limiting oil production is another important factor behind the higher price forecast.

Do PPPs have a future?

David Baxter's picture

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr Creative Commons

In September, a whirlwind of meetings took place with agencies and development banks in Washington, D.C., and Europe that were focused on the current and future implementation of public-private partnerships (PPPs) across the global market. The healthy debate on the topic exposed the participants to interesting insights provided by proponents and naysayers of PPPs.
Many PPP experts that I met shared ideas on the changing context of PPPs and how these changes will impact the implementation of PPPs across regions and sectors in the near and far future. All agreed that the long-term consequences of future political, economic and societal changes are particularly difficult to predict.

Quantifying uncertainties in global growth forecasts

Franziska Ohnsorge's picture
Figure 1. Risks to Global Growth
Upside risks to global growth have increased since January while downside risks for current-year growth have reached post-crisis highs.

A 90% confidence interval implies a 90% chance of growth falling within the given range
Source: World Bank Global Economic Prospects report June 2016.
Note: “90 percent JAN16” is the 90 percent confidence interval of a fanchart based on data available for the January 2016 Global Economic Prospects report

Assessing economic forecast uncertainty and the balance of risks to the growth outlook is critical to effective policymaking. Lower-probability but high-impact events can lead to significant deviations from baseline projections, and this  should be factored into policy design. The World Bank’s most recent Global Economic Prospects unveiled a tool to quantify uncertainty around global growth forecasts and presented it in the form of a fan charts (Figure 1)

The approach adopted in the Global Economic Prospects report consists of two steps.

First, a number of measurable risk indicators that are typical sources of forecast errors for global growth forecasts are selected. Three were chosen: equity price futures, oil price futures and bond term spreads (the difference between short and long term interest rates). For instance, greater volatility in oil price futures could be associated with rising uncertainty around global growth forecasts, while a downward trend in equity price futures could signal rising downside risks to growth.

Second, the probability distributions of forecasts for these three indicators are then mapped to the distribution of global growth forecasts. Both the degree of uncertainty and the balance of risks to the forecast are approximated by weighted averages of the standard deviation and skewness implied by the distributions of expectations for the risk indicators. The weights are estimated in a vector autoregression model (Ohnsorge, Some, and Stocker 2016). To account for potential asymmetry in the distributions of risks, a two-piece normal distribution is assumed, in line with other studies.

Constructing housing PPPs to build trust

Kate Owens's picture

As stakeholders from around the world gather at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador, to agree on a New Urban Agenda, one of the important questions that remains unanswered is why we continue to see housing projects that target the rich but ignore the inadequately sheltered poor.
This question has dogged me for years as I try to understand affordable housing crises gripping cities from Washington, D.C., to Nairobi. At one point, I believed the issue stemmed from a lack of financial liquidity lubricating developers’ and homebuyers’ actions. But alleviating that issue often contributes to increasing prices and building projects in the wrong places.

Inequality in the typical country in the last 25 years – a strong increase followed by a recent decline

Christoph Lakner's picture

Also available in: Español | Français
This is the first of three blog posts on recent trends in national inequality.

Inequality has featured prominently in the public debate in recent times. Media outlets highlight the apparent surge in the incomes of the richest, many books have been written on this issue, and numerous academic studies have attempted to assess the nature and magnitude of inequality over time. Most studies of inequality focus on the extent of inequality within a country; this makes sense since most policies operate at this level, too. Despite the attention this issue has received, it has been constrained by the quality of data on inequality. Household surveys collected by national authorities around the world are the most readily available source of data on inequality. However, compiling and harmonizing household surveys from different countries is extremely difficult as they are not always collected consistently or frequently enough. It is also well-known that household surveys often fail to capture the top tail of the distribution, as we will discuss in more detail in a future blog.  

Chart: How Does Extreme Poverty Vary By Region?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Most of the world's extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While over 1 in 10 people live in extreme poverty globally, in Sub-Saharan Africa, that figure is 4 in 10, representing 389 million people - that's more poor people than all other regions combined. Read more in the new report on Poverty and Shared Prosperity