Author Archives: WorldBankBlogs

Big Data in Davos

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Last week I was invited to speak at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  

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Making Research Relevant to Avoid a Megadisaster

Credit: Earthquakes from Roger Bilham (Science, 2006); population from Landscan (Oak Ridge Nat. Lab., 2004) Without concerted action, the world will one day see a megadisaster—a disaster resulting in over 1 million casualties. The forces of population growth and rapid urbanization are dramatically increasing exposure to disaster risk. Over 600 million people, for example, live in the Ganges Basin of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Due to the meeting of the tectonic plates with the Indian subcontinent shifting under the Eurasian continent, this area is at a large risk of seismic activity

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Innovations in Big Data and Analytics for Development

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My colleagues and I have been thinking and talking about the relevance of big data analytics from the international development point of view for some time now. We have been inspired by the work of the United Nations Global Pulse initiative and wondered whether and how the World Bank Group should engage.

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Ebola-Stricken Countries Appeal for Help as Nations Gather for Annual Meetings


Continue reading here: Ebola-Stricken Countries Appeal for Help as Nations Gather for Annual Meetings

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Let’s not Reinvent the Flat Tire: Thoughts on Poverty, Adaptation and Scaling-up

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I’ve been thinking about scale a lot lately and I’m increasingly skeptical that it is the right way to get greater development impact. Let me explain. On the one hand, how can you not ‘think big’ when there are still nearly 2.4 billion people living on less than $2 per day? But is a cookie-cutter solution to eliminating poverty feasible given the complex factors that cause poverty and the vested political interests that sustain it?

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2014 Annual Meetings Guide to Webcast Events

How can economic growth benefit more people? What will it take to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix? Will the world have enough food for everyone by 2050? You can hear what experts have to say on these topics and others, ask questions, and weigh in at more than 20 webcast events from Oct. 7 to 11. That’s when thousands of development leaders gather in Washington for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings.

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“No Food, No Peace”

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There’s been a lot of talk about food riots in the wake of the international food price hikes in 2007. Given the deaths and injuries caused by many of these episodes, this attention is fully justified. It is quite likely that we will experience more food riots in the foreseeable future—that is, if the world continues to have high and volatile food prices. We cannot expect food riots to disappear in a world in which unpredictable weather is on the rise; panic trade interventions are a relatively easy option for troubled governments under pressure; and food-related humanitarian disasters continue to occur. In today’s world, food price shocks have repeatedly led to spontaneous—typically urban—sociopolitical instability.

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Floods in The Balkans

Ellen Goldstein, The World Bank’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe, talks about the Bank’s response to devastating floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Economists Supply It on Demand

This is for anyone who ever found themselves frustrated by numbers — myself included. Right before college, I remember my parents asking me what degree I wanted to pursue. Vaguely, I answered “Anything without math.” Even during my post graduate studies, I consciously picked a degree with less mathematics in its curriculum. The irony is, I now work in the World Bank Group and numbers is its core language. But there is good news, not only for rookies like me, but for everyone – numbers can be fascinating, insightful and even fun.

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The Poor, the Bank, and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Something Is Changing Fifteen years ago, the international community designed the Millennium Development Goals, including that of halving extreme poverty, through a process that mostly took place in New York, behind closed doors. A few years earlier, the World Bank had developed the guidelines of the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries from Washington, D.C. in a similar fashion. Fortunately, this approach has changed. Today, the process of identifying and consulting on the post-2015 development agenda has been opened to the general public including, importantly, those whom the goals are expected to serve.

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The Longer World Waits to Address Climate Change, the Higher the Cost

In September, the world’s top scientists said the human influence on climate was clear. Last month, they warned of increased risks of a rapidly warming planet to our economies, environment, food supply, and global security. Today, the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes what we need to do about it. The report, focused on mitigation, says that global greenhouse gas emissions were rising faster in the last decade than in the previously three, despite reduction efforts.  Without additional mitigation efforts, we could see a temperature rise of 3.7 to 4.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times by the end of this century. The IPCC says we can still limit that increase to 2 degrees, but that will require substantial technological, economic, institutional, and behavioral change

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Making the Case for Universal Health Coverage

With people around the world struggling to afford health care, countries as diverse as Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, and the Philippines are warming to the idea of universal health coverage. This growing momentum was the subject of a high-profile Spring Meetings event examining the case for universal health coverage and the steps to get there. Some 70 governments have asked the United Nations for help to achieve universal health coverage, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He spoke at Toward Universal Health Coverage by 2030, co-sponsored by the World Bank and World Health Organization and moderated by the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “We can celebrate the fact that virtually all mothers in Sweden survive childbirth,” Ban said

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In a Rapidly Changing World, Governments Need to Make Education a Priority

The world needs to step up efforts to educate large numbers of young people to meet the challenges of the 21st century. That was a key message at the Learning for All Symposium, Investing in a Brighter Future, at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. The event, moderated by PBS News Anchor Judy Woodruff and webcast in three languages, linked what several participants described as an ongoing “learning crisis” with high unemployment among young people worldwide.

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Take It On: What You Can Do to Help End Extreme Poverty

One voice can make a difference. Many can change the world. From civil rights in America to the global fight against AIDS, history has shown that when people come together in pursuit of a goal, they can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. We’re urging everyone to come together to help end extreme poverty by 2030. The World Bank Group, along with other like-minded organizations and individuals, is part of a global movement to change the lives of millions of people who survive on less than $1.25 a day.

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