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May 2017

How a new eLearning course will help improve countries’ civil registration and vital statistics systems

Samuel Mills's picture

 

Civil registration and vital statistics systems enable parents to certify
children at birth. A birth certificate provides proof of age, which enables
access to essential services (e.g., health care, education, welfare grants) and
protects against child marriage and child labor.
Photo: Ray Witlin / World Bank


For some people in low- and middle-income countries, opening a bank account, taking out a loan, obtaining a driver’s license, or sending their children to school is out of reach because they don’t have official documents that prove their legal identity. Why do some people lack birth certificates, marriage certificates, family members’ death certificates, and other documentation?

Satellites find "hidden forests" helping fight against global warming

Umberto Bacchi's picture
Vast tracts of land previously considered barren are actually covered by forests "hiding in plain sight", scientists said on Friday, a discovery that could help the fight against climate change and desertification.
 

An international team of researchers led by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) used new technology to analyse high-resolution images from Google Earth and map forest coverage in drylands worldwide.

They found that trees like baobab and acacia shade 467 million more hectares of land than previously thought - an area roughly equal to half the size of the United States - increasing estimates of global forest cover by at least nine percent.

The discovery allows for more accurate assessments of how much greenhouse gases are absorbed from the atmosphere by the world's vegetation, FAO experts said.

"Drylands absorb more carbon than we thought and they can actually help mitigate climate change," Eva Muller, director of FAO's forestry policy and resources division told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
 

What type of bureaucrat are you?

Daniel Rogger's picture
Editor's note: This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.
 
Bureaucracy Board Game Playing Cards, Avalon Hill


In the world of public sector bureaucracy, what type of bureaucrat are you? 
 
In the board game 'Bureaucracy', you must assume the role of the ‘Lifer’, the ‘Over Achiever’, the ‘Empire Builder’, or the ‘Hustler’.  Each character must use different tactics associated with their personality to rise up the ranks of the bureaucracy to achieve the position of director.  For example, by amassing contacts, the Hustler can attempt a 'power play' on players above her in the hierarchy. 

Transforming markets, one fan at a time: Punjab and the drive for more energy-efficient celling fans

Saima Zuberi's picture

Surrounded by hardened fan manufacturers in the city of Gujranwala, 70 kilometers north of Lahore, the task facing our World Bank Group team was to convince them that more efficient fans, to be promoted through an energy-efficiency labeling program by Pakistan’s government, would be beneficial to the sector as a whole. Questions abounded about how regulations can help competitiveness, and about whether small and lower-tier manufacturers might be left out of the equation. How would labeling be enforced, and how would forgeries be kept off the market?

Fast-forward 12 months to an IFC advisory project, which the government has set up for the procurement of 20,000 Pakistan Energy Label (PEL) energy-efficient fans in public buildings. Those fans will save the country an estimated  800,000 kilowatt hours – the  equivalent of the annual energy use of about 600 domestic refrigerators – translating to about 400 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction per year.

The project has created a new market segment for manufacturers of more efficient fans, nine of whom have received certification for the PEL from the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (NEECA). The fact that four fan manufacturers out of these nine are from the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector is a positive indication of wider acceptance of this standards and labeling initiative.



Photo by Etiennne Kechichian

In time for the region’s next hot season, the request for more information and knowledge about energy-efficient fans has increased. The government of Punjab, as well as NEECA, has launched a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote these PEL fans and to improve the public’s knowledge about their benefits. In a market where heavy, inefficient cast-iron fans are considered good quality, changing perceptions requires coordination with technicians, real estate developers, retailers in the streets of Lahore and the countryside, and a deep understanding of the market.

The concept of market transformation is at times abstract – but we’ve seen signs in this relatively small project, implemented by the Trade & Competitiveness (T&C) Global Practice of the World Bank Group, that targeted and client-based interventions can have a significant impact on the competitiveness of an industry.

Sustainable tourism can drive the blue economy: Investing in ocean health is synonymous with generating ocean wealth

Rob Brumbaugh's picture
A snorkeler explores a coral reef in the coastal waters of Micronesia. © Ami Vitale


Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, contributing trillions of dollars to the global economy and supporting the livelihoods of an estimated one in ten people worldwide. In many countries, with both developing and well-developed economies, tourism is appropriately viewed as an engine of economic growth, and a pathway for improving the fortunes of people and communities that might otherwise struggle to grow and prosper.

Much of that tourism depends on the natural world—on beautiful landscapes and seascapes that visitors flock to in search of escape, a second wind, and a direct connection with nature itself. Coastal and marine tourism represents a significant share of the industry and is an important component of the growing, sustainable Blue Economy, supporting more than 6.5 million jobs—second only to industrial fishing. With anticipated global growth rates of more than 3.5%, coastal and marine tourism is projected to be the largest value-adding segment of the ocean economy by 2030, at 26%.

How Better Infrastructure Helps Build Safer Communities in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements

Margarita Puerto Gómez's picture



Kayole-Soweto, an informal settlement on the eastern periphery of Nairobi, is home to approximately 90,000 residents. And during a recent discussion I had with the Settlement Executive Committee (SEC) there, a female representative told me about her community and home: “This place has changed so much that we need a new name! Our community is improving because our houses have more value, we feel safer and businesses are growing.”

Learning from our global benchmarking reports: A day in Singapore

Paramita Dasgupta's picture

Global benchmarking reports are great conversation starters. Here in Singapore, a nation defined by its drive for excellence, these benchmarking reports are held as evidence of the country’s development success.  From topping the global education index PISA, the Global Competitiveness Index, and the Leading Maritime Capitals of the World Report, Singapore takes great pride in being first, in Asia if not globally.  
 
An important global ranking for Singapore is the Doing Business survey, a ranking the island nation topped for many years, indicating the ease with which business can be done in the little red dot.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, financial flows in 2015 went against the global trend

Sun Hwa Song's picture

Now that the 2017 edition of International Debt Statistics (IDS) has been released, as a member of the team who put these statistics together, I thought I would look back at what the data tells us about financial flows into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

According to IDS 2015 data, net financial flows (debt and equity) to all low and middle income countries were only one third of their 2014 levels ($1,159 billion). In particular net debt flows turned negative (-$185 billion) for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, while foreign direct investment (FDI) showed a marginal increase of $7 billion from $536 billion in 2014. These phenomena were observed in all regions but MENA.

The net debt inflows into the MENA region diverged from global trends. The inflows increased 84 percent from 2014. On the other hand, FDI recorded its lowest level since 2010.

Weekly links May 19: another list experiment, P&P highlights, government nudges, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • The papers and proceedings issue of the AER has several papers of interest to development economists, including:
    • Esther Duflo’s lecture of “The Economist as Plumber” – “details that we as economists might consider relatively uninteresting are in fact extraordinarily important in determining the final impact of a policy or a regulation, while some of the theoretical issues we worry about most may not be that relevant”…” an economist who cares about the details of policy implementation will need to pay attention to many details and complications, some of which may appear to be far below their pay grade (e.g., the font size on posters) or far beyond their competence level (e.g., the intricacy of government budgeting in a federal system).”
    • Sandip Sukhtankar has a paper on replications in development economics, part of two sessions on replication in economics.
    • Shimeles et al. on tax auditing and tax compliance experiments in Ethiopia: “Businesses subject to threats increased their profit tax payable by 38 percent, while those that received a persuasion letter increased by 32 percent, compared to the control group.”
    • 4 papers on maternal and child health in developing countries (Uganda, Kenya, India, Zambia).
  • Following up on Berk’s post on list experiments, 538 provides another example, using list experiments to identify how many Americans are atheists.
  • The Economist on how governments are using nudges – with both developed and developing country examples.
  • The equivalent to an EGOT for economists? Dave and Markus have come up with the EJAQ or REJAQ for economists who have published in all the top-4 or top-5 journals.
  • Call for papers: TCD/LSE/CEPR conference on Development economics to be held at Trinity College, Dublin on September 18-19. Imran Rasul and I are keynote speakers.

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