Syndicate content


​Swimming against the tide: making reforms happen in unexpected places

Katherine Anne Bain's picture
 Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

Just three months after the deadly Ebola Virus touched down in Nigeria, the country was pronounced “Ebola free” by the World Health Organization. In a country with a mobile population of more than 173 million, mixed progress in public health outcomes and challenges in government coordination and delivery, this is a remarkable case of delivery despite the odds, with international assistance playing an ‘arm’s length’ role and Nigerians taking the lead.

But it doesn’t always take a crisis to align the interests of politicians, institutions and the public like this. We recently attended the Overseas Development Institute’s ‘Driving change in challenging contexts’ event where participants presented several cases of how governments delivered despite the odds.

Cities: the best place to strive for sustainability

Xiaomei Tan's picture

Also available in: Español | Français | العربية

Cities are a puzzle for some and inspiration for others. As engines of economic growth, they are also hubs of rapid urbanization, a rising middle class, and a growing population. These three mega-trends drive global environmental degradation yet are only part of the important challenge facing cities today.

While consuming over two-thirds of global energy supply and emitting 70% of all carbon dioxide, cities are also uniquely vulnerable to climate change. Fourteen of the world’s 19 largest cities are located in port areas. With sea level rise and increased storm activity, these areas are likely to face coastal flooding, damage to infrastructure, and compromised water and food security. Under these conditions, meeting urban population’s growing production and consumption needs for food, energy, water, and infrastructure will overload rural and urban ecosystems.

To tackle these issues, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in collaboration with the World Bank Group (WBG), launched the Sustainable Cities Program to engage 23 cities in 11 developing countries. Hailing from one of such countries, two urban development specialists working on each side of the Program explain why making cities more sustainable appeals to them.

Engaging community in monitoring of road projects

Shanker Lal's picture
Photo: CUTS International

Citizen monitoring is a relatively new concept in infrastructure sector in India. Even though the country has vibrant democracy and policy interventions like right to information act, citizens lack awareness and necessary toolkit for exercising their rights through social audit. 

Pushing water downhill: Considering ICT PPPs

Jeff Delmon's picture
Students using new high-speed Internet in Tonga. Photo: World Bank Group

For private financiers, official government support to information and communications technology (ICT) projects might seem like trying to push water downhill. After all, isn’t ICT incredibly profitable? What’s the point of a public-private partnership (PPP) in this sector, anyway?

Here’s the rest of that familiar argument: Government should stay out of the way and let the private sector carry the communications sector; it is a waste of effort and inefficient to try to push forward something that has its own momentum. Like a rushing river, the naysayers conclude, ICT needs no help advancing down its inevitable course.

It sounds reasonable in theory, but in practice, that approach just doesn’t work. The government needs to guide the river down the best course for the citizens it serves, building a weir or mill to help the river provide maximum benefits to the people who need it. And, just as water is the foundation of life, communication technologies are necessary to prosper in today’s world. Knowledge is power. And specifically, access to markets is improved by mobile phones, as is access to banking services, finance, investment opportunities, and education.

Successful ICT strategies usher in jobs, empowerment and economic growth.

Faster track to better carbon prices

Grzegorz Peszko's picture
Carbon pricing instruments implemented or scheduled for implementation,
with sectoral coverage and GHG emissions covered.

​Many of my compatriots in Poland, where over 90 percent of power generation comes from burning coal, are concerned that the EU climate policy is a risky outlier.

​They worry that the EU Emissions Trading System may expose domestic industry to unfair competitition and cause companies to move production to countries where emission costs are lower, something called “leakage”.

The two reports recently released by the World Bank may change this perception.

Sustainable Development Goals and Open Data

Joel Gurin's picture
Sustainable Development Goals. Source:

The United Nations (UN) has developed a set of action-oriented goals to achieve global sustainable development by 2030. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed by an Open Working Group of 30 member states over a two-year process. They are designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

To help meet the goals, UN member states can draw on Open Data from governments that is, data that is freely available online for anyone to use and republish for any purpose. This kind of data is essential both to help achieve the SDGs and to measure progress in meeting them.
Achieving the SDGs
Open Data can help achieve the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics. These insights can inform national priorities and help determine the most effective paths for action on national issues. Open Data is a key resource for:
  • Fostering economic growth and job creation. Open Data can help launch new businesses, optimizing existing companies’ operations, and improve the climate for foreign investment. It can also make the job market more efficient and serve as a resource in training for critical technological job skills.

Think you know everything about Governance? Take the challenge!

Ravi Kumar's picture

Recently we blogged about a global solutions group on open governance at the World Bank, subnational governmentspublic investment management in Ethiopia and more.

If you weren’t able to check out those blog posts, take this quiz, which we think is fun, and still sharpen or refresh your knowledge about issues related to governance.
And please tweet at @wbg_gov to share your score!

Sharing is scaring: Can shared corporate services save costs in the public sector?

Arturo Herrera Gutierrez's picture
Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

In late June, we sent two of our bravest colleagues, Marta and Marcelo, on a daring mission into the Tundra, close to the Arctic Circle. Even though the temperature was in the mid-80s (mid-20s Celsius), you could feel the glacial breezes. Since our unit focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean, you might wonder what brought them so far north.

The team had arrived in Toronto, Ontario with a mission: to learn more about shared corporate services (SCS) and their potential application to save costs and improve government efficiency in other parts of the world.   

In the late 90s, reeling from a financial crisis, the provincial government of Ontario was faced with a daunting task: to cut a third of its administrative budget in one year. In other words, they had to do more with less. Over the next decade the government managed to save C$43 million in direct costs and C$227 million through efficiency gains. Their secret was an innovative solution borrowed from the private sector.