Daily Archives: Sep 23, 2015

As multilateral development banks (MDBs) gear up to fill serious gaps in infrastructure in Asia and elsewhere, attention also focuses on safeguards used to deflect potential spillover damages to communities, habitats and livelihoods from such large-scale projects. The value of such protection is at an all-time high because of the heightened fragility the environment and society face today—as the United Nations’ new Sustainable Development Goals emphasise.

Indeed, safeguards should be a top concern for established lenders such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and for two new lenders: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank set up by the Brics countries. While the borrower is responsible for implementing these defences, the lender must be accountable for robust checks on the projects financed. Read more

When world leaders meet this week for the UN’s general assembly to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they will also call for a “data revolution”. In a world where almost everyone will soon have access to a mobile phone, where satellites will take high-definition pictures of the whole planet every three days, and where inputs from sensors and social media make up two thirds of the world’s new data, the opportunities to leverage this power for poverty reduction and sustainable development are enormous. We are also on the verge of major improvements in government administrative data and data gleaned from the activities of private companies and citizens, in big and small data sets.

But these opportunities are yet to materialize in any scale. In fact, despite the exponential growth in connectivity and the emergence of big data, policy making is rarely based on good data. Almost every report from development institutions starts with a disclaimer highlighting “severe data limitations”. Like castaways on an island, surrounded with water they cannot drink unless the salt is removed, today’s policy makers are in a sea of data that need to be refined and treated (simplified and aggregated) to make them “consumable”. Read more