Metropolitan development is important for Romania’s growth. An analysis prepared by the World Bank for the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MRDPA) indicates that Romania’s eight largest metropolitan areas (Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara) concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues in the country.
Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of a country, and if these engines do not work well, neither does the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, in Romania, these engines do not function properly, highlights another World Bank analysis prepared for MRDPA. There are only a few cities that have a functional metropolitan public transport system (e.g. Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca), few cities that have prepared spatial plans for the metropolitan area (e.g. Brăila, Brașov, Craiova), and even fewer that have managed to implement projects at the metropolitan level (e.g. Constanța).
What are some of the challenges facing metropolitan areas in Romania?
The Climate Policy Team of the World Bank in partnership with the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) is commissioning a paper in above mentioned topic. This paper will inform the work underway in a flagship report on “Climate Change, Migration and Securing Resilience” being led by the Climate Policy Team.
Goma is a girl, born in rural Kalikot. Her parents are illiterate, belong to the Dalit community and are in the bottom 20 percent of Nepal’s wealth distribution. Champa is also a girl born to a household very similar to Goma’s, but her parents are from a village in Siraha. Avidit is a boy born to an upper caste household in urban Kathmandu. Both his parents have a university education and come from affluent backgrounds.
In a society where opportunities are equally available for children of all socio-economic backgrounds, Goma, Avidit and Champa would all have equal odds of becoming doctors, or engineers or successful entrepreneurs. But in Nepal, the life trajectory of these children begins to diverge very early in life.
Natural disasters—such as droughts, floods, landslides, and storms—are a regular occurrence, but climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such weather-related hazards. Since 1970, Africa has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters, with just under half taking place in the last decade. During this time, natural disasters have affected over 460 million people and resulted in more than 880,000 casualties. In addition, it is estimated that by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people (living below $1.25/day) will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa. In areas of recurrent disasters, this hampers growth and makes it harder for the poor to escape poverty.
On November 26, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon will convene the first-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. What is at stake in this capstone two-day event? What fresh developments might it yield, and how might it change the dynamics for transport?
The new transport agenda. A number of earlier high-level events—including the UN Climate Action Summit, the OECD/International Transport Forum, and the Habitat III Conference—helped give a long-needed boost to the visibility of transport in the international arena in 2016. The events also helped position transport within the current set of global commitments that include the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, the Decade of Action on Road Safety, and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda. The forthcoming Ashgabat event will put front and center one simple notion: for the next 15 years, the transport agenda will be framed by that set of global commitments. The commitments define the space within which governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society will have to act on transport. And they will dictate the future size and direction of transport funding.
This is a paradigm shift. Previously, the transport agenda was defined by the goal of providing access to transport infrastructure. Under the new framework, the international community has committed itself to much more. First, the issue is no longer simply access but equitable access for all. Second, other, equally important objectives have been added, including the efficiency and reliability of mobility services, transport safety, and decarbonization. In sum, the internationally accepted transport agenda concerns more than economic and social development; it is also about being part of the climate change solution.
After three and half years of work, we have finally completed our systematic review of youth employment programs. Many thanks to the co-authors who did the heavy lifting (Jose Manuel Romero, Jonathan Stöterau, Felix Weidenkaff and Marc Witte). The paper was presented at our recent Jobs and Development Conference. The team went over 40,000 papers to eventually find 103 that reported on credible impact evaluations of youth employment programs.
I usually don’t wake up to hate mail in my inbox. What prompted this deluge is a recent paper that evaluates the impact of a training program for informal health care providers (providers without any formal medical training) in the state of West Bengal, India (paper summary). Training improved the ability of informal providers to correctly manage the kind of conditions they may see in their clinics, but it did not decrease their overuse of unnecessary medicines or antibiotics.
“The things you learn from sports – setting goals, being part of a team, confidence – that’s invaluable. It’s not about trophies and ribbons. It’s about being on time for practice, accepting challenges and being fearful of the elements.” — Summer Sanders
As the Olympic flame, once stolen from Zeus by Prometheus, was extinguished, the world bid farewell to the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The downpour that drenched the Maracana Stadium during the Olympic Closing Ceremony didn’t interrupt the carnival with the Brazilian Balao music. Near the end, to the sound of samba beats, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach declared: “These were marvelous Olympic Games, in the Marvelous City.” A few weeks later at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee proclaimed: “Marvelous Cariocas, you warmly embraced these Games and took the athletes to your hearts. You made the Paralympics your Games, the People’s Games, and we will forever cherish our time spent with you.”
The next day as guests started to travel back home, the Cariocas were on the verge of facing the reality of post-Olympic nostalgic trauma. To be sure, some of the athletes were already in the middle of the post-Olympic media frenzy; some were sharing the shiny hardware with their communities and their loved ones; some joined the professional tours to continue their season; and some simply went to bed to catch up on some well-deserved sleep. Many of them promised themselves no more -- this is the end of the Olympic journey, and some obliged themselves to work harder to be ready for Tokyo 2020. Some hit the books to experience a back to school reality, and some decided to start families.
This is the second in our series of posts by Ph.D. students on the job market this year
Setting food-price policy is hard. Smallholder farmers are better off with higher crop prices, but consumers want lower prices. So what is a policymaker to do?
Well-integrated agricultural markets can tackle both sides of this food-price policy dilemma, by pulling crops out of surplus areas (to boost prices received by farmers) and pushing food into deficit areas (to reduce prices faced by consumers).
But, alas, agricultural markets in sub-Saharan Africa are not well-integrated. Wide variation in prices across regions and seasons is common, and large gaps between farmer and consumer prices are the norm. There are many possible causes. One issue is that trade is expensive to conduct in the region. To move crops from surplus to deficit areas, agricultural traders must pay high transport costs, spend time and money searching for sellers and buyers, and battle institutional failures like poor credit availability and contact enforcement. Yet, there may be another important driver of the gap between farmer and consumer prices – one that has been voiced by policymakers but is much less well-documented empirically: agricultural traders may be engaging in imperfect competition and extracting rents.
Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them all along – take the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 2008 global financial crisis, or the Arab Spring (and ensuing winter). Even at a personal level, change is largely unpredictable: how many of us can say our lives have gone according to the plans we had as 16-year-olds?
The essential mystery of the future poses a huge challenge to activists. If change is only explicable in the rear-view mirror, how can we accurately envision the future changes we seek, let alone achieve them? How can we be sure our proposals will make things better, and not fall victim to unintended consequences? People employ many concepts to grapple with such questions. I find “systems” and “complexity” two of the most helpful.
A “system” is an interconnected set of elements coherently organised in a way that achieves something. It is more than the sum of its parts: a body is more than an aggregate of individual cells; a university is not merely an agglomeration of individual students, professors, and buildings; an ecosystem is not just a set of individual plants and animals.
A defining property of human systems is complexity: because of the sheer number of relationships and feedback loops among their many elements, they cannot be reduced to simple chains of cause and effect. Think of a crowd on a city street, or a flock of starlings wheeling in the sky at dusk. Even with supercomputers, it is impossible to predict the movement of any given person or starling, but there is order; amazingly few collisions occur even on the most crowded streets.
In complex systems, change results from the interplay of many diverse and apparently unrelated factors. Those of us engaged in seeking change need to identify which elements are important and understand how they interact.
My interest in systems thinking began when collecting stories for my book From Poverty to Power. The light-bulb moment came on a visit to India’s Bundelkhand region, where the poor fishing communities of Tikamgarh had won rights to more than 150 large ponds. In that struggle numerous factors interacted to create change. First, a technological shift triggered changes in behaviour: the introduction of new varieties of fish, which made the ponds more profitable, induced landlords to seize ponds that had been communal. Conflict then built pressure for government action: a group of 12 brave young fishers in one village fought back, prompting a series of violent clashes that radicalized and inspired other communities; women’s groups were organized for the first time, taking control of nine ponds. Enlightened politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) helped pass new laws and the police amazed everyone by enforcing them.
The fishing communities were the real heroes of the story. They tenaciously faced down a violent campaign of intimidation, moved from direct action to advocacy, and ended up winning not only access to the ponds but a series of legal and policy changes that benefited all fishing families.
The neat narrative sequence of cause and effect I’ve just written, of course, is only possible in hindsight. In the thick of the action, no-one could have said why the various actors acted as they did, or what transformed the relative power of each. Tikamgarh’s experience highlights how unpredictable is the interaction between structures (such as state institutions), agency (by communities and individuals), and the broader context (characterized by shifts in technology, environment, demography, or norms).
Unfortunately, the way we commonly think about change projects onto the future the neat narratives we draw from the past. Many of the mental models we use are linear plans – “if A, then B” – with profound consequences in terms of failure, frustration, and missed opportunities. As Mike Tyson memorably said, “Everyone has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth”.