The cost of solar technology has come down, way down, making it is a viable way to expand access to energy for hundreds of millions of people living in energy poverty. For farmers in developing countries, the growing availability of solar water pumps offers a viable alternative to system dependent on fossil fuel or grid electricity. While relatively limited, experience in several countries shows how solar irrigation pumps can make farmers more resilient against the erratic shifts in rainfall patterns caused by climate change or the unreliable supply and high costs of fossil fuels needed to operate water pumps. Experience also suggests a number of creative ways that potential water resource trade-offs can be addressed.
In the past decade the idea of a nuclear Iran has overshadowed a far more interesting debate about Iran’s non-nuclear economic potential. A potential that, if realized, could very well redefine the story of political and economic development in both the Middle East and Central Asia. The most interesting story yet to be told is not about a nuclear bomb but rather about a thousand smaller benign technologies that slowly but surely will change the future of Iran and possibly the region around it. With the prospect of sanctions being lifted, Iran’s commercial technology sector is at a historical crossroad.
Low-income countries facing a hangover as the commodity cycle turns
Until recently, confidence and expectations for low income countries (LICs) were soaring – with good reason. After all, for most of the 2000s, many LICs managed to consistently post growth rates that were much higher than in the previous three decades (Figure 1).
For metal and mineral exporting LICs – these account for almost two-thirds of LICs – robust global demand for copper, iron ore, oil and high commodity prices filled government coffers and lifted investment and exports. This resulted in a broad based improvement in growth (Figure 2). The 2000s also marked a decade of discoveries, with major oil and gas discoveries in East and West Africa that transformed long term prospects for some LICs.
Also available in: العربية
Are we harnessing the power of the sun? With the success of rooftop solar and other initiatives, we’re beginning to head in the right direction.
Solar success has come from unexpected quarters. For example, Germany is probably not the first country that comes to mind when you think of sunshine, but we can follow Germany’s lead. It’s the world’s biggest small-scale photo-voltaic user with an installed capacity of 32 gigawatts, and 60 percent of capacity is from solar panels that are installed on people's roofs.
Germany also launched a 100,000 rooftops program, which provided concessional, 10-year loans along with attractive feed-in tariffs to further incentivize households to participate. This was soon after the success of its pilot 1,000 rooftops program, which created the right incentives and targets were achieved a year ahead of schedule – in 2003.
Germany, Japan and the U.S. state of California are fulfilling their strong solar power potential, and we could all learn from their examples – especially nations that haven’t yet explored the proven promise of solar.
Statistics like these convince me that there is so much more we can and must do. I’m heartened that progress in India has been steady, with successes that prove the country is ready for more.
- Partnership IQ
- alternative energy
- rooftop solar
- off-grid solar
- solar home systems
- solar energy
- partenariats public-privé
- public-private dialogue
- public-private partnership
- public-private partnerships
- Private Sector Development
- East Asia and Pacific
- South Asia
- Europe and Central Asia
One of the many baffling aspects of the post-2015/Sustainable Development Goal process is how little research there has been on the impact of their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals. That may sound odd, given how often we hear ‘the MDGs are on/off track’ on poverty, health, education etc, but saying ‘the MDG for poverty reduction has been achieved five years ahead of schedule’ is not at all the same as saying ‘the MDGs caused that poverty reduction’ – a classic case of confusing correlation with causation.
So I gave heartfelt thanks when Columbia University’s Elham Seyedsayamdost got in touch after a previous whinge on this topic, and sent me her draft paper for UNDP which, as far as I know, is the first systematic attempt to look at the impact of the MDGs on national government policy. Here’s the abstract, with my commentary in brackets/italics. The full paper is here: MDG Assessment_ES, and Elham would welcome any feedback (es548[at]columbia[dot]edu):
"This study reviews post‐2005 national development strategies of fifty countries from diverse income groups, geographical locations, human development tiers, and ODA (official aid) levels to assess the extent to which national plans have tailored the Millennium Development Goals to their local contexts. Reviewing PRSPs and non‐PRSP national strategies, it presents a mixed picture." [so it’s about plans and policies, rather than what actually happened in terms of implementation, but it’s still way ahead of anything else I’ve seen]
The World Bank at World Water Week 2015
The Stockholm World Water Week’s focus on “Water for Development” comes at an opportune time. Water as a sector in world affairs is reaching a tipping point. Over the next two decades and more, the global push for food and energy security and for sustaining urbanization will place new and increasing demands on the water sector.
Ours is a world of ‘thirsty agriculture’ and ‘thirsty energy’ competing with the needs of ‘thirsty cities.’ At the same time, climate change may potentially worsen the situation by increasing water stress as well as extreme events, reminding us that the water and climate nexus can no longer be a side event at global climate talks. All of this is happening in a context where the important agenda of access to services – despite the impressive gains over the past several decades – remains an unfinished agenda, requiring an urgent push if we are to fulfill the promise of universal access.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Why democracy can’t be democratic all the way down – and why it matters
Recent debates over the meaning of “one person, one vote” and the lessons of ancient Greek democracy for the modern world highlight an important truth about democracy: it can’t be democratic all the way down. Lincoln famously said that democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But before “the people” can govern anything, someone has to decide who counts as a member of the people, what powers they have, and what rules they will vote under. And that someone usually turns out to be a small group of elites. Just as the world can’t be held up by “turtles all the way down,” so a political system can’t be democratic all the way down.
U.N. Marks Humanitarian Day Battling Its Worst Refugee Crisis
Inter Press Service
The United Nations is commemorating World Humanitarian Day with “inspiring” human interest stories of survival – even as the world body describes the current refugee crisis as the worst for almost a quarter of a century. The campaign, mostly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is expected to flood social media feeds with stories of both resilience and hope from around the world, along with a musical concert in New York. “It’s true we live in a moment in history where there’s never been a greater need for humanitarian aid since the United Nations was founded,” says U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. “And every day, I talk about people and I use numbers, and the numbers are numbing, right — 10,000, 50,000,” he laments. But as U.N. statistics go, the numbers are even more alarming than meets the eye: more than 4.0 million Syrians are now refugees in neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon (not including the hundreds who are dying in mid-ocean every week as they try to reach Europe and escape the horrors of war at home).
To gain a better understanding of how innovation in public-private partnerships (PPPs) builds on genuine learning, we reached out to PPP infrastructure experts around the world, posing the same question to each. Their honest answers redefine what works — and provide new insights into the PPP process. This is the question we posed: How can mistakes be absorbed into the learning process, and when can failure function as a step toward a PPP’s long-term success?
Having worked in the infrastructure sector for nearly 20 years, I’ve had time to reflect on what success and failure look like in infrastructure PPPs. Mistakes have been, do, and will continue to be made when using PPPs. It is not perfect — nor is its application — but what in life is?
There are so many horror stories around non-PPP construction cost overruns, delays in completion, poorly specified contracts, weak tender management, corruption, failure to run transparent competitive processes, lack of project readiness, significant post-contract variations, and sporadic asset maintenance and management. PPPs eliminate many of the above structural weaknesses, which rightfully earns it its place as a challenging but effective procurement approach.
The chief criticisms of PPP — that it takes longer to procure and is less flexible than conventional procurement — have some validity. Getting price certainty does take time and requires clear contractual risk allocation through the life of the contract.
In the run up to the first hackathon on road safety in India, we caught up with Arnab Bandopadhyay, Senior Transport Engineer at the World Bank and asked him a few questions:
- Why is the World Bank focusing on road safety in India?
While India has less than 3% of the world’s vehicles, it accounts for some 11% of the world’s road deaths. That too, when many such incidents are not documented at all.
Road accidents are not only traumatic for victims and their families but also take a huge economic toll on the country. They cost an estimated 3% of GDP each year. The large majority of road accident victims are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists - mostly from the economically weaker sections of the society – making road safety a matter of social equity. Promoting road safety is therefore an important national priority.