Climate Change
It is unfortunate for a family to go without food or water for extensive periods of time. However, the real disaster is climate change. In the world’s poorest countries, where carbon emissions are at their lowest, people experience the worst natural disasters. Droughts affect the production of crops and storms destroy developing regions.

According to Oxfam, “In the next 40 years, climate-related disasters are projected to displace between 150 million and one billion people.”

People living in poverty will experience the greatest loss when natural disasters occur, increasing their risk of starvation and lack of clean water. However, natural disasters will put all people, rich and poor, out of homes and ultimately make climate change one of the main barriers to ending world poverty.

“Just about everything we do has to be focused on tackling climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation,” says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

During his lecture at Georgetown University, Kim addressed the importance of tackling climate change in order to help the world’s poor and shared his five-point plan that will reduce carbon emissions.

The leading countries in carbon emissions are China and the U.S., therefore these nations are the most responsible for the ongoing production of greenhouse gases. However, these nations are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. In 2014, the U.S. and China set a goal to reduce emissions by 2025.

“The announcement was a historic step for climate change action and for the U.S.-China relationship, as the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers, and carbon emitters came together to demonstrate leadership on an issue that affects the entire world,” said the White House.

Since climate change affects electricity in some regions, technology is being built to accommodate these issues. The Gates Foundation has invested in the Omniprocessor that not only produces clean water from human waste but also generates electricity without exerting carbon emissions. Additionally, 3D printers have become a potential resource to help developing regions. Given the versatility of 3D printers, they can be used, for example, to create tools to monitor the weather so that people can better prepare for storms or heat waves.

Although technology is being produced and people are fighting for laws that recognize and halt climate change, individuals can help. Saving energy, water and recycling are all steps that can be taken to help the environment and, ultimately, the nations being affected.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: Georgetown University, Oxfam America, The White House
Photo: Flickr

Eradicate Poverty
As part of the Moral Imperative, religious leaders from around the world joined the World Bank Group and other organizations in a call to end global poverty by 2030.

On April 9, 30 leaders and chiefs from religious and faith-based organizations came together to introduce their commitments in ending extreme poverty around the world. Religious institutions and faith-based organizations partnered in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and ultimately, help end global poverty.

Many religious leaders believe that there is a moral obligation to help lift the poor out of poverty, but more than that, they believe religious organizations should band together as part of a movement to change and influence the world. The Moral Imperative believes that joining the World Bank Group and others that posses mutual goals to end poverty is both imperative and inspiring. It brings organizations together in pursuit of a better world.

“The Moral Imperative statement seeks to generate the necessary social and political will by inspiring greater commitments from others to join in this cause, tapping into many of the shared convictions and beliefs that unify the world’s major religions around the call and responsibility to combat poverty,” says the World Bank Group in a recent press release.

The announcement was inspired by a previous meeting held between the World Bank Group’s president and religious leaders. The Faith Based and Religious Leaders Roundtable cultivated a setting where talks of endorsement regarding goals to end global poverty was made, resulting in the joint Moral Imperative statement.

As part of the Moral Imperative statement, the endorsers are dedicated to driving change on a global scale through actions made by the faith community. The World Bank Group along with the faith-based community believe that ending extreme poverty in a matter of 15 years is possible. The new 2015 Sustainable Development Goals are expected to build upon previous success and the shared belief that ending global poverty is an essential and urgent burden that must be achieved.

The actions of religious and faith-based leaders came at a crucial time where ending global poverty has become increasingly urgent. The partnership can further help hundreds of millions of impoverished people out of extreme poverty.

In the past 25 years alone, extreme poverty has been reduced by half and continues to decrease as a result of the support provided. At one time, two billion people were living in poverty, but today there are fewer than one billion people living in extreme conditions. Especially in recent years, there has been major progress in lowering global poverty rates. The idea of ending global poverty is no longer distant and impossible, but as progress becomes more evident, so does the possibility.

“Now, for the first time in human history there exists both the capacity and moral responsibility to ensure that no one has to live in extreme poverty’s grip,” says the World Bank Group in a recent press release.

Through commitments made, the possibility of ending extreme poverty has quickly become feasible. Advocates who continue to build this imperative in partnership with the World Group Bank can influence the movement and take it further, and at a much faster pace.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: The Salvation Army, The World Bank

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Vietnam
Over the years, Vietnam has made incredible strides against poverty. During the 1990s, the number of people living in poverty in Vietnam was around 60 percent and today that number has dropped to less than 20.7 percent. On July 17, 2014, the nation demonstrated its continued commitment to fighting poverty with the announcement of a joint government and World Bank Group study.

The study will detail policies Vietnam should undertake to continue increasing economic growth. It will also pinpoint the specific obstacles the country needs to overcome in order to ensure sustainable growth, modernization and prosperity for all social classes.

By working with the World Bank Group, the government of Vietnam hopes to increase the country’s economic competitiveness and, in so doing, help its citizens prosper. One way the nation seeks to reduce poverty is by improving the efficiency of the economy in attracting foreign and domestic investments. Increased private sector investments will lead to higher job creation, free flowing capital and innovation, which will be beneficial to everyone.

The study’s aim is to boost Vietnam’s economy to reform policies that widen inequality, and create more opportunities for everyone in the country. Such measures include demanding more transparency from businesses and state-owned enterprises.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim plan to have their agencies finish the study within one year. The hope is that, through observations made in the study, Vietnam will be able to guide its economy to reach the marker of a high-income nation within a single generation.

In addition announcing the study, Dung and Kim finalized plans for five new projects which credit Vietnam with over $876 million. The World Bank Group also loaned about $3.8 billion over the next three years to the country through the IDA, a fund used by The World Bank for the world’s poorest nations.

The financing now makes Vietnam the second biggest IDA recipient to date.

The government will use recommendations from the study to apply these funds in a way that increases private sector investment.

The effort comes as a continuation of the World Bank Group’s investment in Vietnam, as IFC, a World Bank Group member that deals only with private sector development, has contributed $5 billion to the nation’s private sector over the past 20 years.

With Vietnam’s growth rate averaging over 6.4 percent per year for over 10 years, it is hoped that renewed investment in the private sector will increase growth and help bring more individuals out of poverty.

The government of Vietnam and the World Bank Group’s efforts aim to lead the country down the path of economic growth and prosperity for all because, despite the nation’s sustained progress over the past 20 years, income inequality has grown. With this new study and loans from the World Bank Group, Vietnam seeks to foster growth that is accessible to all of its citizens and continue reducing the prevalence of poverty throughout the country.

Kathleen Egan

Sources: World Bank, Thanhnien News, USAID
Photo: World Bank

UN flags
“We the Peoples of the United Nations determined to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of the men and women and of nations large and small,” the UN Charter.

Over 60 years ago an organization with a mission to bring peace to the world was born. Rightfully called the United Nations, this organization started with just a handful of nations, though now well over one hundred countries have signed up to accept the pledge of peace.

Here are some quick facts about the UN, present and past:

  1. 51 countries founded the UN in 1945.
  2. The UN’s mission is to maintain peace, security, develop friendly relations with other nations, promote social growth and advocate for human rights.
  3. New York City houses the UN’s headquarters. Three other main offices reside in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna.
  4. The UN is comprised of six main sections: The General Assembly, The Security Council, The Economic and Social Council, the Secretariat and the United Nations Trustee Council.
  5. The original members of the UN were Russia, USA, France and the UK. These four along with the Republic of China hold five permanent seats on the Security Council.
  6. A few agencies established by the UN are the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization (WHO), The World Food Program, UNESCO and UNICEF.
  7. The current leaders of the UN are :
    • Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (South Korea)
    • Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson (Sweden)
    • General Assembly President John William Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda)
    • Secretary Council President Gerald Araud (France)
  8. Each nation must sign the UN charter in order to join the United Nations. The Charter consists of two preambles and a series of articles.
  9. When war breaks out in a country, the UN sends peace keeping soldiers to help resolve the conflict. These soldiers are also called “Blue Helmets.”
  10. There are, currently, 183 member nations in the UN.
  11. The UN was initially established to prevent a repeat of World War II.
  12. The UN’s motto: It’s your world.
  13. Over 120,00 peacekeepers from the UN maintain civility on 4 continents.

– Amy Robinson

Sources: Wikipedia, Fun Trivia, United Nations, UNFPA
Photo: Flickr


What is Universal Health Coverage?


Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pools resources and finances to provide health care services to the world’s entire population by focusing on improving health care for citizens and reducing poverty caused by health care costs.  Universal Health Coverage can improve the health and economic well being of individuals and communities — especially those that are socially disadvantaged or vulnerable.

Universal Health Coverage is sometimes also referred to as “Universal Coverage” or “Social Health Protection.” Different countries may make different policy changes when implementing Universal Health Coverage, but it generally consists of three main principles:

  1. Reduced out of pocket spending: Three million people around the world pay out of pocket for healthcare. These people often forgo care due to their inability to pay for it. Universal Health Coverage seeks to reduce these direct payments from the individual to the provider.
  2. Repayment: Those who can afford it, contribute to pre-paid healthcare. This can come in the form of general taxes, payroll taxes, member contributions or charitable donations.
  3. Risk pooling: Universal Health Coverage works by pooling the financial risk so that the financial costs incurred when someone is sick or injured are spread throughout the entire system.

Moving Towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Universal Health Coverage, as a goal of many countries, may become part of the post-2015 Millennial Goals sustainable development agenda. Universal Health Coverage, for the most part, means that all people who need health services will receive them when needed without undue financial hardship — this includes prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

The United Nations, World Bank Group and World Health Organization are all in favor of UHC and are pushing that it become part of the new development plan.

Moreover, the World Bank Group has a new goal of eliminating global poverty by 2030 which can only be met if all people have fair and accessible health care.  People should not have to live in poverty in order to pay for health care.

In December of 2013, the World Bank Group and World Health Organization released a report that outlined their findings on the Universal Health Coverage.  They suggest that those receiving both health coverage and financial protection should be covered.

The World Bank Group further supports Universal Health Coverage because it will ultimately improve health outcomes, reduce financial risk and improve equity. However, they point out that each country will have it’s own unique path to achieving this goal.

The World Bank recently studied all 22 countries that provide Universal Health Coverage in addition to the state of Massachusetts, who has had health coverage for six years. These studies provide tools and implementation plans that can be adopted by other countries and states.

To find more information on the World Bank study series go to:

Lisa Toole

Sources: UHC Forward, World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank Group, CNN
Photo: MSH

World Bank Plan for Energy Sector Investments
The World Bank Group’s report “Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector” was released on July 16, and lays out principles-based plans for the World Bank’s work in the energy sector. The report puts a special focus on expanding energy access and sustainable energy.

The report, also known as the Energy Sector Directions Paper, focuses on the poor in terms of their energy access, stating that “supporting universal access to reliable modern energy is a priority.” The report points out the connection between poverty and lack of energy access asserting that “economic growth, which is essential for poverty reduction, is not possible without adequate energy.”

The Energy Sector Directions Paper also emphasizes supporting renewable energy. Declining costs of renewable energies like wind and solar power are increasing their usefulness, and hydropower in particular is one of the largest untapped sources of renewable energy in the developing world. The energy sector directions paper underscored the importance of these renewable energies for sustainability and also in order to increase energy access while trying to reduce climate change. The World Bank Group asserted that they would support and invest in coal power development “only in rare circumstances.”

1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which causes harmful indoor air pollution. These people are mainly in either developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and in rural areas. In order to foster sustainable development in these countries, plans like the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector Directions Paper need to be enacted to give the poor access to renewable energy sources.

– Martin Drake

Sources: World Bank, International Energy Agency
Photo: Value Walk

On April 2, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim gave a speech at Georgetown University outlining the goals and actions the world must to take to reach the 2030 Millennial Development Goals and eliminate global poverty. The President encouraged listeners to “seize the opportunity to end extreme poverty” because the goal is “within our grasp.”

Amid various challenges that threaten the elimination of poverty, such as inequality, global climate change, and an increasing number of natural disasters, Kim remains hopeful. However, to ensure that progress continues, he believes that we must change the way we work together. Kim outlined two lessons learned in the last decades of poverty reduction. By accelerating the end of extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, he believes that poverty can be reduced below 3% within the next generation of activists. The role of the World Bank Group becomes critical in reducing and eliminating world poverty as it encourages the cohesion of these two lessons through its mission and focuses on equity. “We must collectively work to help all vulnerable people everywhere lift themselves well above the poverty line,” said Kim.

While working together is essential, Kim outlined four roles that the World Bank Group will play in reducing poverty. Identifying worthy projects, closely monitoring these projects, conveying advocacy to policymakers, and working with partners to share knowledge are essential aspects to making progress and meeting the Millennial Development Goals.

In closing, Kim noted that April 5 marked 1,000 days to execute the Millennial Development Goals. While he acknowledged the challenges that poverty reduction faces, he remained confident that these goals and the ultimate elimination of poverty are within grasp. To view the transcript of Kim’s speech, visit The World Bank website.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The World Bank
Photo: The Guardian