Published on Voices

7 ways to help understand the world's challenges in 2020—and have hope for the future

Credit: World Bank Group
Credit: World Bank Group

Unprecedented, devastating, pervasive. No matter how you describe the COVID-19 pandemic, for billions around the world the virus has changed life as we knew it.  We are living through a remarkable period of history, one that will affect each of us for decades to come.

The impacts that the World Bank Group expects are staggering. For this year alone:

  • The global economy is expected to shrink by 5.2% – the worst recession since 1998
  • Extreme poverty will rise for the first time in a generation – by about 100 million people worldwide
  • The number of people who face food insecurity is also forecast to double in 2020

Understanding the scale of this crisis and what lies ahead is a challenge for all of us. And while the coronavirus grabs the headlines, it is just one of the major development challenges that countries are facing.  Locust swarms have struck Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Conflict and violence affect many regions, and a changing climate puts millions of livelihoods at risk. Obesity and malnutrition are just two of the ongoing threats to health in developing countries.

The big picture can seem overwhelming, the challenges too immense.

So, at the World Bank Group, we’ve tried to break the issues down, to examine them in detail and discuss possible solutions. Our economists, data experts and specialists are sharing their research and recommendations in a wealth of reports, blogs, interviews and events. The scale of content we have produced this year mirrors the scale of the task ahead – we have published more than 300 blogs on COVID-related issues alone. 

That’s why we’ve put together a short, high-quality collection that will help you understand more about these global development challenges, and gain insight on how we’re responding. 

We’ve picked just one piece from each of the series we’ve been running this year – there are blogs, videos, interviews and podcasts of different durations. Any way that you like getting information, we’ve got you covered. All these items resonated with the audience provoking lots of reactions and comments.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a major focus, including in an exceptional feature that draws lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. When we posted this story in our #ChangingLives series on Twitter, many of you engaged with it, especially on what a previous pandemic can teach us to handle the current one.

The Development Podcast on this year’s locust swarms is our audio pick of the year. It was a popular episode and we received a lot of positive feedback.

Our interview on obesity with the Bank’s nutrition specialist is the choice from our Expert Answers video series. Did you know that 44% of adults worldwide are overweight or obese? Over 200 people shared this episode – evidence of the interest in this issue. 

A blog on sustainable urban transport, was also widely shared. Many of you were inspired by the potential of greener transport to transform cities.

If you have time for a deeper dive, we recommend watching our video, “Are Robots Coming for Your Job?”  This special two-hour event from February looks at how new technologies affect work, especially in developing countries.

For an in-depth read, our latest Women, Business and the Law report offers a comprehensive analysis of laws and regulations that hinder women around the world  – and where countries are making progress on reform. This subject struck a chord with many of our audience - Gloria Luseni responded “what men can do, women can do also.”

World Bank Group staff around the world have shared pictures from their homes and neighborhoods to give some sense of what life has been like during the lockdown. We shared these in our video ‘Coming Together in the Age of Coronavirus’.

We invite you to explore this list, but it’s only a jumping-off point for exploring much more of our excellent content. Whatever topic, region, country or issue you’re interested in, you can learn more on our website at 

Through every story we’ve chosen, one thing shines through – hope for the future.  Across so many countries and development challenges, there are great ideas, and real actions are making a difference. There’s tremendous momentum for change to improve people’s lives.

We hope you’ll find something that engages you, informs you and ultimately inspires you. Please let us know what you think of our selection. Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Jasmin Buttar

Head of Content and Creative for External Corporate Relations at the World Bank Group

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