Populism – the idea that a particular social group speaks for the nation as a whole, and should be first in the line for social benefits – threatens the core values of the post-World War order. It also challenges the World Bank’s own approach to development policy. As the world prepares for the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a year-long commemoration, culminating on December 10, 2018, we at the World Bank can use the occasion to reflect on our commitments and uphold them courageously.
The World Region
Earth’s landscape has been subjected to both natural and anthropogenic fires for millions of years.
Natural, lightning-caused fires are known to have occurred in geological time continuously at least since the late Silurian epoch, 400 million years ago, and have shaped the evolution of plant communities.
Hominids have used controlled fire as a tool to transform the landscape since about 700,000 years ago. These hominids were Homo erectus, ancestors of modern humans. Paleofire scientists, biogeographers and anthropologists all agree that hominid use of fire for various purposes has extensively transformed the vegetation of Earth over this period.
The nature of Earth’s modern-day biomes would be substantially different if there had been no fires at all. William Bond and colleagues (2005) used a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model to simulate the area under closed forest with and without fire. They estimated that in the absence of fire, the area of closed forest would double from the present 27% to 56% of present vegetated area, with corresponding increase in biomass and carbon stocks. This would be at the expense of C4 grasslands and certain types of shrub-land in cooler climates.
Online pundits, hurried journalists and policymakers love precision. They crave numbers. Preferably exact numbers; ranges suggest uncertainty and make them anxious. As a result, they will love the World Poverty Clock (WPC), a new website that claims to track progress towards ending global poverty in real time (see also this blog and Financial Times article). The website tells you that 632,470,507 people are currently living in extreme poverty - or were, on December 6 at 10:00am… Even more amazingly, the site claims to forecast poverty at any point in the future until 2030, the deadline for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. By scrolling along the elegant timeline on the bottom of the WPC screen you will learn, for example, that in 2028, 459,309,506 people will be living in extreme poverty!
Energy commodity prices surged 8 percent in November—the fifth consecutive monthly gain—led by a 9 percent increase in oil prices, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.
Agriculture prices made marginal gains as a 1 percent decline in beverages was balanced by a 1 percent increase in food prices, notably natural rubber (down 12 percent) and cotton (off 2 percent). Fertilizer prices declined 3 percent, led by a 6 percent drop in Urea.
Metals and mineral prices were unchanged. Gains in nickel and iron ore were balanced by declines in lead and aluminum. Precious metals prices rose marginally.
The pink sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
What would bring together the China trade shock, road blocks in the West Bank, and the Belt and Road initiative? The 6th Annual IMF-World Bank-WTO Trade Research Conference, at which staff of the three institutions presented the results of twelve research projects.
The Conference is over, but the website lives on, and here you can find preliminary versions of papers. To whet your appetite, here are three examples of research that use creative methodologies and raise provocative questions.
Sixteen of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 2001. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record. Recent analysis finds that climate change could push more than 100 million more people into poverty by 2030. But good development—rapid, inclusive, and climate informed—can prevent most of the impacts of climate change on extreme poverty by 2030.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas and driver of climate change, increased from 22.4 billion metric tons in 1990 to 35.8 billion in 2013, a rise of 60 percent. The increase in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases has contributed to a rise of about 0.8 degrees Celsius in the mean global temperature above pre-industrial times. Read more in the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals
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Every November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we are reminded that gender-based violence continues to be a global epidemic with dire consequences for women, their families and entire communities. It leads to negative mental and physical health consequences for women and limits their decision-making ability and mobility, thereby reducing productivity and earnings. Beyond the individual harm, it also has substantial economic costs. Global estimates suggest the cost of gender-based violence to be as high as 3.7 percent of GDP – or $1.5 trillion a year.
As behavioral scientists to the World Bank, we at the Mind, Behavior, and Development (eMBeD) Unit tend to see behavioral science everywhere. With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s no surprise that we can apply behavioral science to any number of seasonally appropriate channels, including charitable giving. Reciprocity, it turns out, affects us at every age, and can be a good lesson for charitable giving campaigns.
Photo: kupicoo/ iStock
A key challenge when developing a policy to manage unsolicited proposals (USPs) in infrastructure projects is to strike a balance between receiving submissions and creating competitive tension. In a previous blog, we warned that USPs should be used with caution as an exception to the public procurement method, and argued that a good policy to manage USPs can help ensure transparency and predictability, and protect the public interest.
Surely a government that decides to consider USPs and develops a policy to manage them will look forward to receiving compliant proposals. At the same time, the government should ensure the project represents a fair market price and delivers value for money. Yet what is the incentive for the private sector to submit an unsolicited bid if the government takes it and competitively procures it? How can a government make USPs appealing to the private sector while attracting enough competing bidders?