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Reading in the Mobile Era

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Reading in the Mobile Era
Source: United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO)

Millions of people do not read for one reason: they do not have access to text. But today mobile phones and cellular networks are transforming a scare resource into an abundant one.

Drawing on the analysis of over 4,000 surveys collected in seven developing countries and corresponding qualitative interviews, this report paints a detailed picture to date of who reads books and stories on mobile devices and why.

The findings illuminate, for the first time, the habits, beliefs and profiles of mobile readers. This information points to strategies to expand mobile reading and, by extension, the educational, social and economic benefits associated with increased reading.

Mobile technology can advance literacy and learning in underserved communities around the world. This report shows how.

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Ending poverty requires more than growth, says WBG

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Ending poverty requires more than growth, says WBG
Source: World Bank

While economic growth remains vital for reducing poverty, growth has its limits, according to a new World Bank paper released today. Countries need to complement efforts to enhance growth with policies that allocate more resources to the extreme poor. These resources can be distributed through the growth process itself, by promoting more inclusive growth, or through government programs, such as conditional and direct cash transfers.

In addition, the paper notes, it is imperative not just to lift people out of extreme poverty; it is also important to make sure that, in the long run, they do not get stuck just above the extreme poverty line due to a lack of opportunities that might impede progress toward better livelihoods.

UN Interventions: The Role of Geography

April 21, 2014 Comments off

UN Interventions: The Role of Geography (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

This paper argues that UN military interventions are geographically biased. For every 1,000 kilometers of distance from the three Western permanent UNSC members (France, UK, US), the probability of a UN military intervention decreases by 4 percent. We are able to rule out several alternative explanations for the distance finding, such as differences by continent, colonial origin, bilateral trade relationships, foreign aid flows, political regime forms, or the characteristics of the Cold War. We do not observe this geographical bias for non-military interventions and find evidence that practical considerations could be important factors for UNSC decisions to intervene militarily.

UNODC — Global Study on Homicide 2013 (released 4/10/14)

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Global Study on Homicide 2013
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
From press release (PDF):

Almost half a million people (437,000) across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Launching the Global Study on Homicide 2013 in London today, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, said: “Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered. There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women.”

Globally, some 80 per cent of homicide victims a nd 95 per cent of perpetrato rs are men. Almost 15 per cent of all homicides stem from domestic violence (63,600). However, the overwhelming majority – almost 70 per cent – of domestic violence fatalities are women (43,600). “Home can be the most dangerous place for a woman,” said Mr . Lemahieu. “It is particularly heart-breaking when those who should be protecting their loved ones are the very people responsible for their murder.”

Over half of all homicide victims are under 30 years of age, with children under the age of 15 accounting for just over 8 per cent of all homicides (36,000), the Study highlighted.

IMF Global Financial Stability Report: Moving from Liquidity- to Growth-Driven Markets

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Global Financial Stability Report: Moving from Liquidity- to Growth-Driven Markets
Source: International Monetary Fund

The April 2014 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) assesses the challenging transitions that the global financial system is currently undergoing on the path to greater stability. Chapter 1 finds that these transitions are far from complete, and stability conditions are far from normal. For advanced and emerging market economies alike, a successful shift from liquidity-driven to growth-driven markets requires a number of elements. The report discusses these elements, including: a normalization of U.S. monetary policy that avoids financial stability risks; financial rebalancing in emerging market economies amid tighter external financial conditions and higher corporate debt levels; further progress in the euro area’s transition from fragmentation to robust integration; and the successful implementation of Abenomics in Japan to deliver sustained growth and stable inflation. Chapter 2 examines the role of the composition of the investor base and local financial systems for the stability of emerging market portfolio flows and asset prices. Chapter 3 looks at the issue of too-important-to-fail and provides new estimates of the implicit funding subsidy received by systemically important banks.

Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Taking on the Rising Death Toll from Traffic & Pollution
Source: World Bank

+ The annual death toll linked to road transportation is higher than many policy makers realize, reaching at least 1.5 million people worldwide and rising, according to a new analysis.

+ The report, Transport for Health, counts the number of lives lost to road crashes and, for the first time, also quantifies deaths related to vehicle pollution.

+ It offers practical actions countries can take now to improve transportation, air quality, and road safety data.

Monetary Policy in the New Normal

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Monetary Policy in the New Normal
Source: International Monetary Fund

The proposed SDN would take stock of the current debate on the shape that monetary policy should take after the crisis. It revisits the pros and cons of expanding the objectives of monetary policy, the merits of turning unconventional policies into conventional ones, how to make monetary policy frameworks more resilient to the risk of being constrained by the zero-lower bound going forward, and the institutional challenges to preserve central bank independence with regards to monetary policy, while allowing adequate government oversight over central banks’ new responsibilities. It will draw policy conclusions where consensus has been reached, and highlight the areas where more work is needed to get more granular policy advice.

Recovery Strengthening, but Requires Stronger Policy Effort

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Recovery Strengthening, but Requires Stronger Policy Effort
Source: International Monetary Fund

The global recovery is becoming broader, but the changing external environment poses new challenges to emerging market and developing economies, says the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO).

The IMF forecasts global growth to average 3.6 percent in 2014―up from 3 percent in 2013―and to rise to 3.9 percent in 2015.

The strengthening of the recovery from the Great Recession in the advanced economies is a welcome development, according to IMF staff. But the latest WEO also emphasizes that growth remains subpar and uneven across the globe.

Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space
Source: World Bank

This book joins four papers prepared in the framework of the Egypt inequality study financed by the World Bank. The first paper prepared by Sherine Al-Shawarby reviews the studies on inequality in Egypt since the 1950s with the double objective of illustrating the importance attributed to inequality through time and of presenting and compare the main published statistics on inequality. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a comprehensive review is carried. The second paper prepared by Branko Milanovic turns to the global and spatial dimensions of inequality. The objective here is to put Egypt inequality in the global context and better understand the origin and size of spatial inequalities within Egypt using different forms of measurement across regions and urban and rural areas. The Egyptian society remains deeply divided across space and in terms of welfare and this study unveils some of the hidden features of this inequality. The third paper prepared by Paolo Verme studies facts and perceptions of inequality during the period 2000-2009, the period that preceded the Egyptian revolution. The objective of this part is to provide some initial elements that could explain the apparent mismatch between inequality measured with household surveys and inequality aversion measured by values surveys. No such study has been carried out before in the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) region and this seemed a particular important and timely topic to address in the light of the unfolding developments in the Arab region. The fourth paper prepared by Sahar El Tawila, May Gadallah and Enas Ali A. El-Majeed assesses the state of poverty and inequality among the poorest villages of Egypt. The paper attempts to explain the level of inequality in an effort to disentangle those factors that derive from household abilities from those factors that derive from local opportunities. This is the first time that such study is conducted in Egypt. The book should be of interest to any observer of the political and economic evolution of the Arab region in the past few years and to poverty and inequality specialists that wish to have a deeper understanding of the distribution of incomes in Egypt and other countries in the MENA region.

The Prudential Regulation of Financial Institutions: Why Regulatory Responses to the Crisis Might Not Prove Sufficient

April 2, 2014 Comments off

The Prudential Regulation of Financial Institutions: Why Regulatory Responses to the Crisis Might Not Prove Sufficient
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

It is now six years since a devastating financial and economic crisis rocked the global economy. Supported strongly by the G20 process, international regulators led by the Financial Stability Board have been working hard ever since to develop new regulatory standards designed to prevent a recurrence of these events. These international standards are intended to provide guidance for the drawing up of national legislation and regulation, and have already had a pervasive influence around the world. This paper surveys recent international developments concerning the prudential regulation of financial institutions: banks, the shadow banking system and insurance companies. It concludes that, while substantial progress has been made, the global economy nevertheless remains vulnerable to possible future financial instability. This possibility reflects three sets of concerns. First, measures taken to manage the crisis to date have actually made the prevention of future crises more difficult. Second, the continuing active debate over virtually every aspect of the new regulatory guidelines indicates that the analytical foundations of what is being proposed remain highly contestable. Third, implementation of the new proposals could suffer from different practices across regions. Looking forward, the financial sector will undoubtedly continue to innovate in response to competitive pressures and in an attempt to circumvent whatever regulations do come into effect. If we view the financial sector as a complex adaptive system, continuous innovation would only be expected. This perspective also provides a number of insights as to how regulators should respond in turn. Not least, it suggests that attempts to reduce complexity would not be misguided and that complex behavior need not necessarily be accompanied by still more complex regulation. Removing impediments to more effective self-discipline and market discipline in the financial sector would also seem recommended.

Sovereign borrowing set to fall in 2014, says OECD

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Sovereign borrowing set to fall in 2014, says OECD
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
From press release:

Borrowing operations by OECD governments are set to decrease, as their borrowing needs continue to decline, according to a new OECD report. Net borrowing needs are projected to fall from USD 2.0 trillion in 2013 to USD 1.5 trillion in 2014, the lowest level since 2007.

The Sovereign Borrowing Outlook 2014 estimates that gross borrowing requirements will total USD 10.6 trillion in 2014, down from USD 10.8 trillion in 2013.

The redemption profile of medium- and long-term central government debt in the OECD area remains challenging, according to the Outlook, with large projected payment flows for the G7 and euro area governments for 2013 and 2014. For the OECD area as a whole, governments will need to refinance close to 29 % of its outstanding long-term debt in the next 3 years.

PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems (Volume V)

April 1, 2014 Comments off

PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving: Students’ skills in tackling real-life problems (Volume V)
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

This fifth volume of PISA 2012 results presents an assessment of student performance in creative problem solving, which measures students’ capacity to respond to non-routine situations in order to achieve their potential as constructive and reflective citizens. It provides the rationale for assessing problem-solving skills and describes performance within and across the 44 countries and economies that took part in the assessment. In addition, the volume highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of each school system and examines how they are related to individual student characteristics, such as gender, immigrant background and socio-economic status. The volume also explores the role of education in fostering problem-solving skills.

Income Distributions, Inequality, and Poverty in Asia, 1992-2010

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Income Distributions, Inequality, and Poverty in Asia, 1992-2010
Source: Asian Development Bank Institute

In this paper, income distributions for developing countries in Asia are modeled using beta-2 distributions, which are estimated by a method of moments procedure applied to grouped data. Estimated parameters of these distributions are used to calculate measures of inequality, poverty, and pro-poor growth in four time periods over 1992–2010. Changes in these measures are examined for 11 countries, with a major focus on the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, and Indonesia, which are separated into rural and urban regions. We find that the PRC has grown rapidly with increasing inequality accompanying this growth. India has been relatively stagnant. Indonesia has grown rapidly after suffering an initial set back from the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

IPCC Report: A changing climate creates pervasive risks but opportunities exist for effective responses; Responses will face challenges with high warming of the climate

March 31, 2014 Comments off

IPCC Report: A changing climate creates pervasive risks but opportunities exist for effective responses; Responses will face challenges with high warming of the climate (PDF)
Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report today that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.

The report, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, from Working Group II of the IPCC, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. A total of 309 coordinating lead authors, lead authors, and review editors, drawn from 70 countries, were selected to produce the report. They enlisted the help of 436 contributing authors, and a total of 1,729 expert and government reviewers.

The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate change will also continue to produce surprises. The report identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world. It finds that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Each of these three components can be a target for smart actions to decrease risk.

+ Summary and Full Report

Public Service Delivery: Role of Information and Communication Technology in Improving Governance and Development Impact

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Public Service Delivery: Role of Information and Communication Technology in Improving Governance and Development Impact
Source: Asian Development Bank

The focus of this paper is on improving governance through the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the delivery of services to the poor, i.e., improving efficiency, accountability, and transparency, and reducing bribery. A number of papers recognize the potential benefits but they also point out that it has not been easy to harness this potential. This paper presents an analysis of effective case studies from developing countries where the benefits have reached a large number of poor citizens. It also identifies the critical success factors for wide-scale deployment.

The paper includes cases on the use of ICTs in the management of delivery of public services in health, education, and provision of subsidized food. Cases on electronic delivery of government services, such as providing certificates and licenses to rural populations, which in turn provide entitlements to the poor for subsidized food, fertilizer, and health services are also included. ICT-enabled provision of information to enhance rural income is also covered.

WEGrow — Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean

March 28, 2014 Comments off

WEGrow — Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean
Source: Multilateral Investment Fund
From press release

The new study “WEGrow: Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean,” finds that these entrepreneurs are opportunity-driven rather than necessity-driven, and that they mention economic independence, passion and creating jobs as their main reasons for launching their business ventures. According to the study, 85% of high-growth women entrepreneurs have the ambition to keep growing their business. These high-growth businesses belong to traditional or non-mature sectors such as food and beverages and services, which tend to have lower rates of potential growth than sectors like software and Internet, which are preferred by high-growth men entrepreneurs.

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient
Source: World Bank

  • In the last 30 years, urbanization helped lift half a billion people in China out of poverty
  • Urban strains caused by inefficient urban sprawl are showing
  • New report lays out comprehensive reform agenda toward efficient, inclusive and sustainable urbanization

United Nations Research Guide — Peace & Security: The Situation in Ukraine

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Peace & Security: The Situation in Ukraine
Source: United Nations

This guide provides Security Council documentation, news, and other resources related to the situation in Ukraine.

Categories: Ukraine, United Nations

OECD — Equity, Excellence and Inclusiveness in Education: Policy Lessons From Around the World

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Equity, Excellence and Inclusiveness in Education: Policy Lessons From Around the World (PDF)
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Across OECD countries, almost one in five students does not reach a basic minimum level of skills to function in society, and roughly the same proportion of students drops out of school before completing their secondary education. Disadvantaged students are twice as likely as their advantaged peers to be poor performers, implying that personal or social circumstances are obstacles to achieving their potential. As the recent Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) found, having poor skills in literacy and numeracy limits people’s access to better-paying and more rewarding jobs. By contrast, among the OECD countries with the largest expansion of university-level education over the past few decades, most still see rising earnings differentials for tertiary graduates, which suggests that the increase in the number of “knowledge workers” has not led to a decrease in their pay, as was the case for low-skilled workers. Skilled individuals are also more likely to volunteer, to see themselves as actors, rather than objects, in the political process, to report good health, and to trust others; and trust is the foundation on which democracies are built (OECD 2013a).

As the benefits – both social and economic – for the highly skilled keep rising, the economic and social penalties for individuals without adequate skills are becoming more severe. Providing all individuals with the knowledge and skills to participate fully in our economies and societies, and to collaborate, compete and connect, is now a policy imperative. This has profound implications for teachers, students and for the leadership of schools and education systems. The most advanced education systems now set ambitious goals for all students, with a clear focus on equity, and are clear about what students should be able to do. They also equip their teachers with the pedagogic skills that have been proven effective and with enough autonomy so that teachers can use their own creativity in determining the content and instruction they need to provide to their students.

7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution

March 25, 2014 Comments off

7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution
Source: World Health Organization

In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

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