A generation ago, the World Development Report 1984 focused on development challenges posed by demographic change, reflecting the world’s concerns about run-away population growth. Global population growth rates had peaked at more than two percent a year in the late 1960s and the incredibly high average fertility rates of that decade – almost six births per woman – provided the momentum to keep population growth rates elevated for several decades (Fig 1). Indeed, the population and development zeitgeist spawned works such as Ehrlich’s 1968 book “Population Bomb,” which painted apocalyptic images of a world struggling to sustain itself under the sheer weight of its people. The policy discussion of the WDR 1984 reflected these concerns, focusing on how to feed the growing populations in the poorest and highest fertility countries, while also presenting a case for policies that would reduce fertility.
global monitoring report
Ending poverty and achieving shared prosperity will require more than economic growth. It will require pro-poor policies to be sustainable.
The recently released Global Monitoring Report 2014/2015 focuses on the importance of sustainability as a means to enable countries to reach out to their poorest people over the medium term (to 2030) and long term (beyond 2030).
The latest Global Monitoring Report analyzes the impact of recent food price spikes on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), paying particular attention to the negative consequences that temporary food price shocks may have on nutrition.
Nutritional outcomes are directly linked to the MDG on hunger (MDG 1.c) and indirectly to most of the remaining development targets, through its effects on cognitive skills of young children and consequently on human capital accumulation. Unfortunately, progress in fighting undernourishment is considerably lagging across nearly all developing regions (figure 1).
While the world’s population doubled in the last fifty years, global food production trebled – especially in the staple grains that form the mainstay of the poor man’s diet. Yet, over a billion people in the world still go hungry - why?
As the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report of 2012 shows, it is not that the world as a whole lacks rice, wheat or maize, but produce from food abundant areas does not always make it to food deficit ones – i.e. it is not so much the availability of food that matters as access to it.
Movement of food within a country or across its borders remains hampered by dismal infrastructure and inefficient regulations, and shackled to the dictates of political economy. Yet, trading food can feed the poor at lower costs and help countries weather shocks to local production.
Three years from the deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, two-thirds of countries will not reach MDGs 4 and 5 (child and maternal mortality, respectively). And now the second food price rise in three years is a wake-up call for the development community.
In this context, the Global Monitoring Report 2012: Food Prices, Nutrition, and the Millennium Development Goals examines some of the possible consequences of food price increases, such as a rise in poverty and undernourishment1. Households cope through a variety of mechanisms, including: eating less nutritious diets and then less food; making more household members work (women and children); and not seeking health care when ill. The most vulnerable (the poor, children, and pregnant women) bear the brunt of these adverse impacts. Moreover, as countries seek to maintain food prices, some increase food price subsidies and cut into other services.
The Global Monitoring Report 2012 reports on the remarkable growth in Official Development Assistance (ODA) over the decade through 2010, despite the global financial crisis centered in high-income donor countries. Net ODA reported to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rose from 0.22 percent as a weighted average of donors’ gross national incomes (GNI) in 2000 to 0.32 percent in 2010 and reached a record high of $127.3 billion in 2010 (at 2009 prices)—very close to the target of $130 billion set at the G-8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005. There is some evidence that international coordination, notably the commitments made at Gleneagles, contributed to the rise in aid disbursements.
Our world is only three years away from the 2015 deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two global targets have been reached well ahead of schedule – according to preliminary estimates for extreme poverty the proportion of people living on less than a $1.25 a day has fallen below half its 1990 value. The same is true for the target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.
A few more MDGs are in sight of the finish line. These are primary school completion rate and gender equality in primary and secondary education.
However, some others will need a real push, particularly child and maternal mortality and access to improved sanitation facilities. Hence, it is too early to claim that the mission has been accomplished, especially when we look at individual countries and achievements per region. Disparities among regions and countries remain large and much remains to be done to make progress towards the MDGs a reality for all.
How are communities around the world coping with the higher and more volatile food prices? What is the impact on poverty, or on nutritional outcomes? And, how should policymakers respond to such price spikes that can eat away at already-tight budgetary resources?
These are only some of the questions that a key World Bank-IMF report is delving into as it provides an annual assessment on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the challenges which developing countries face in achieving them.
The World Bank recently launched its ‘Education Strategy 2020’ which focuses on achieving ‘learning for all’ over the next decade. The strategy emphasizes looking beyond inputs (classrooms, teacher training, textbooks, computers) to outputs such as cognitive skills and skills for critical thinking (read Elizabeth Kings’ post on this). The strategy emphasizes this approach through the slogan ‘invest early, invest smartly, invest for all.’