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December 2017

Twelve big moments of building sustainable cities and communities

Andy Shuai Liu's picture

[Put together the puzzle pieces to reveal the picture. Scroll down to #9 for hints.]
 

If the world in 2017 were a jigsaw puzzle, what memorable pieces would you choose to make up the big picture?
 
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that pounded coastal United States and the Caribbean; the severe drought that struck Somalia; forest fires that are ravaging through southern California… Hard to miss were the natural disasters that displaced – even killed – individuals and families.
 
There were also the “manmade” disasters – conflicts that erupted or lasted in many parts of the world continued to force men, women, and children out of their homes and homelands.
 
Yet, turning to the bright side, the world has come a long way this year in addressing these challenges to boost inclusive and sustainable growth.


Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, global and local leaders gathered at the One Planet Summit in Paris to firm up their commitment – and ramp up action – to maximize climate finance for a low-carbon, disaster-resilient future.
 
At the World Bank, our teams working on social development, urban development, disaster risk management, and land issues have endeavored with countries and cities worldwide throughout the year to achieve a common goal: building inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities for all.
 
How did they do? From our “Sustainable Communities” newsletter, we have captured 12 moments that mark the major accomplishments and lessons learned in 2017—and inspire our continued work to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in 2018:
 
#1: Africa’s Cities: Opening Doors to the World


 
Released in February 2017, our report on cities in Africa notes that, to grow economically as they are growing in size, Africa’s cities must open their doors and connect to the world. Improving conditions for people and businesses in African cities is the key to accelerating economic growth, adding jobs, and improving city competitiveness. Two more reports released in 2017 also shined a light on inclusive urban growth in East Asia and the Pacific and in Europe and Central Asia respectively.

Year-in-Review: 12 top blogs of 2017

Yelena Osipova-Stocker's picture

2017 was a busy year in the world of infrastructure and public-private partnerships at the World Bank Group: from new knowledge products and tools, to innovations and success stories in places ranging from Peru and Ukraine, to Jordan, Pakistan, and Fiji. As we look at our top content that resonated most with you, our blog readers, we can categorize these posts into three broad categories:

What 15 seconds can tell you about a classroom

Daphna Berman's picture




The first time a World Bank education team tried classroom observations in Brazil, it nearly provoked a state-wide teachers’ strike. It was October 2009 in the northeast state of Pernambuco and two members of the team, Barbara Bruns and Madalena Dos Santos, had handed out stopwatches to school supervisors newly trained in using the Stallings “classroom snapshot” method to measure teacher activities.

Two days later, the stopwatches were on the front page of Pernambuco’s leading newspaper: the teachers’ union called for a state-wide strike to protest an evaluation tool they dubbed the “Stalin method.”

“I thought the grant money we had used to train observers was down the drain,” recalled Bruns, a World Bank retiree now a visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. “But the governor, Eduardo Campos, was unfazed.  He publicly declared: ‘No one is going to stop me and my secretariat from going into public schools to figure out how to make them better.’  The union backed down and the fieldwork went ahead.” 

2018: Are we ready to commit to building resilient infrastructure?

David Baxter's picture


Photo: Michiel van Nimwegen | Flickr Creative Commons

Just ahead of this year’s anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, I visited the Tsunami Honganji Vihara site in Sri Lanka where upwards of 2,000 people died when their train was destroyed by the force of the waves. Shortly after my visit, Sri Lanka was faced with an unusually large tropical cyclone that pummeled the capital of Colombo, and caused extensive flooding, power failures and infrastructure damage. And, a few thousand miles away, Bali’s highest volcano, Mount Agung, was threatening to erupt, causing considerable anxiety in Colombo that it could trigger another tsunami event of the same magnitude of the 2004 disaster.
 
Upon my return to the United States I learned of the raging wildfires in California causing massive damages.
 
This year’s seemingly never-ending adverse weather events, exacerbated by climate change, along with adverse natural events such as earthquakes, are negatively impacting critical infrastructure globally. Some might describe 2017 as a global “annus horribilis” for adverse “force majeure” events.

The Family 500+: Battling Child Poverty in Poland

Karolina Goraus-Tańska's picture
Facing one of the lowest fertility rates in the European Union (EU), the Government of Poland introduced a new family benefit program that had two objectives: encourage fertility and reduce child poverty.
 
The Family 500+ program, introduced in April, 2016, consists of a monthly payment of PLN 500 (€115) for every child after the first until the age of 18. The benefit was also extended to the first child in families whose income was below a defined threshold.
 

24 hours in Hargeisa, Somaliland



Somaliland is often described as a breakaway state, void of international recognition. But most parts of Somaliland—including Hargeisa—boast safe, democratic, and culturally compelling destinations for tourists and professionals alike. Situated on a more temperate plateau, Hargeisa was a cultural epicentre for Somalis until the 1970s, and an overdue revival of its historical and creative essence is being fuelled by the tens of thousands of Somalis returning from the diaspora to their homeland with ideas and capital to invest.

Rapid results approach: A better way forward for public sector reform in Senegal?

Thomas Dickinson's picture



“I feel proud of myself, very proud,” said Rokhaya Niang as she worked. She and her team had had only 100 days to streamline and accelerate the administrative processing of land subdivision applications at the local Ministry of Urbanization office in Rufisque, a city 25 km east of the center of Dakar. The area has been developing quickly since it was chosen as the location of the new national government center, and their office had been swamped under a backlog of allotment and construction requests.

Civil Society voices on tracking universal health coverage

Craig Burgess's picture


Full infographic

This commentary first appeared on the UHC2030 website. Full list of authors: Craig Burgess, Anna MarriottKhuat Thi Hai Oanh, Bruno Rivalan, James Sale

Despite the international commitment to UHC, half of the world’s 7.3 billion people do not have access to essential health services; the number of people impoverished by health spending remains unchanged; and catastrophic health expenditure is on the rise. Health coverage has been increasing at a rate of just over 1% per year. 


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