MADRID -- One thousand days. That's all we have left to meet the Millennium Development Goals, a series of commitments to improve the lives of families in the developing world. I was just in Madrid to attend the United Nations' Chief Executives Board -- the heads of the UN agencies -- and we talked about the importance of setting targets to spur urgent action. Watch the video blog below to learn more.
In two weeks, economic policymakers from around the world will gather in Washington, D.C., for the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. As has been the case for the past five years, there will be much talk of economic crisis and of strategies to restore confidence, kick start growth, and create jobs. There is growing evidence that we are on the right track, but this agenda still requires much more work.
The meetings, though, also offer an occasion to look beyond the short term crisis-fighting measures. It is a chance for leaders to adopt a long-term perspective and assess where we stand and where we are headed.
If they do, they will see that today we are at a moment of historic opportunity. For the end of absolute poverty, a dream which has enticed and driven humanity for centuries, is now within our grasp.
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China’s prospects stirred interest as the BRICs met in South Africa and a new survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found China on course to become the world’s largest economy by 2016. The OECD study says China has “weathered the global economic and financial crisis of the past five years better than virtually any OECD country” and should be able to continue catching up and improving living standards over the next decade. While the OECD study says China needs to shift to more environmentally friendly modes of consumption and production, a new Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index finds that France, Japan, China, South Korea and the United Kingdom are “currently best positioned to prosper in the global low-carbon economy.”
Today, we know that being overweight or obese are major risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and premature death. We are constantly reminded that personal behaviors, influenced by culture and lifestyle, and our metabolic development contribute to being overweight or obese. In the March 2013 Food Price Watch, we wonder how another factor could potentially influence the world’s obesity epidemic: high food prices.
But first, let’s run a quick quiz. Many of us watch our weight routinely and may even have figured out our Body Mass Index—the ratio of body weight in kilograms by the square of body height in meters—to determine whether or not we are overweight. Yet there are some stunning facts about being overweight that you may not know.
Can you answer the questions about being overweight or obese below?
Youth Forum Breakfast, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
In 2011 African heads of state met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit. It was held under the theme: "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." The main aim of the gathering was to deliberate on Africa's youth which is growing faster than any other continent. More than 200 million people in Africa are between ages 15 through 24.
“Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa region. Young people are usually the ones who lead innovation and are a source of labor force of any economy, Devarajan added.
In the run up to the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development that will take place in October 2013, there is a lot of discussion among migration experts on how migration might feature in the post-2015 development agenda. A foremost spokesperson for the migration community is Peter Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and the London School of Economics, and UN Special Representative for International Migration and Development (and former Director General of the World Trade Organization, EU Commissioner for Competition, and Attorney General of Ireland) has published a very timely, useful and well-written op-ed today, titled "Migration is Development". He writes,
"To succeed, the post-2015 agenda must break the original mold. It must be grounded in a fuller narrative about how development occurs – a narrative that accounts for complex issues such as migration. Otherwise, the global development agenda could lose its relevance, and thus its grip on stakeholders....[M]igration is the original strategy for people seeking to escape poverty, mitigate risk, and build a better life."
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Washington Post
An incredible map of which countries e-mail each other, and why
“The Internet was supposed to let us bridge continents and cultures like never before. But after analyzing more than 10 million e-mails from Yahoo! mail, a team of computer researchers noticed an interesting phenomenon: E-mails tend to flow much more frequently between countries with certain economic and cultural similarities.
Among the factors that matter are GDP, trade, language, non-Commonwealth colonial relations, and a couple of academic-sounding cultural metrics, like power-distance, individualism, masculinity and uncertainty. (More on those later.)” READ MORE
Walking out of Keflavik airport as the arctic breeze hit my face at 50 km per hour, I thought to myself, “I love my job.” A job that makes a tropical citizen like me enjoy the hospitality of the very warm Icelanders and allows me to learn from their experience is hard to top. With 320,000 citizens and just the size of the U.S. state of Kentucky, subpolar Iceland has a lot to teach us development practitioners.
We are only beginning to put together a vision for how to deal with the dilemma of a warming-- and therefore more unpredictable and punishing--climate and ever increasing energy needs. But Iceland has long ago put its mind to the challenge and now lives productively and peacefully in an environment that throws at it tremendous challenges and great gifts.
My appreciation of Iceland's strategy to make use of its environment and harness its renewable energy rose as I visited Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant. Feeling the rumbles of the earth and looking at the steam that puffed from its heart against the backdrop of a volcanic landscape, I was in awe both of nature and the people who have embraced its imposing power.
In Sierra Leone's rainy season, the Sewa River, feared by many locals for its powerful currents, floods over its banks separating entire villages from basic services. Konta health clinic in Kenema district operates near the shores of the Sewa, and during the six-month rainy season, five of Konta’s 17 dependent villages cannot access the clinic. If women in those villages give birth during the rains, they entrust care to traditional birth attendants; if children fall ill, they turn to traditional medicine, stockpiled drugs, and, often, prayer. As one woman explained during a recent community meeting in Konta, these are the only options, even if the all-too-frequent consequence is death. Hearing her account, it’s difficult not to feel a strong sense of injustice, even in an incredibly resource-constrained country like Sierra Leone. But is there a role for the law in remedying this situation?
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What can be done to help African youth improve their prospects for a brighter future?
The first step might be to understand the challenges they face.
Recently, Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates wrote a terrific piece in the Wall Street Journal on why we need to measure the world’s problems to solve them. “You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal…,” said Gates.