How the World Bank Institute supports knowledge exchange on urbanization and cities

Christine Kessides, Urban Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, participated in the closing round-table of the 2012 GDN Annual Conference.

The World Bank Institute works to foster the links that allow knowledge to get translated into action. At the GDN conference, Kessides was not only interested in getting to know the latest research on the topic but also to see how to link practitioners and the researchers. WBI focuses on capacity development as a way of enhancing the application of knowledge. For that, there’s a need to first understand what are the constraints to reform and innovation.

WBI strategy does not focusing anymore just on technical training but increasingly the attention is put on how individuals acquire knowledge and change the way they work with other stakeholders. In this sense, WBI works on codified knowledge (structured learning) but also on practitioner-to-practitioner knowledge exchange, with a specific attention to South-South knowledge exchange.

This strategy has proved to be very effective, and has been deployed in various forms, through study tours, video conferencing, community of practice (online and through local government associations), direct support to local knowledge institutions and by helping governments to develop their own capacity development programmes.

According to Kessides, there is a clear need for more research on cities; likewise, there is also a need for researchers to link to practitioners and for these to be part of research.


Housing and basic infrastructure for all: A conceptual framework for urban India

India is projected to have an urban housing shortage of 29 million units by 2017.  This deficit persists because housing interventions to date have been delivered in an ad hoc and fragmented manner in the absence of an enabling framework to facilitate housing delivery. In light of this, the paper presented by Pritika Hingorani (IDFC, India) during the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference develops a conceptual framework which stresses integration – an alignment of the economic, legal, planning, financial systems and a clear mapping of requirements – tenure mix, associated infrastructure that can help ensure targeted and productive investment.

According to the paper Housing and basic infrastructure services for all: A conceptual framework for urban Indiahousing provision must dovetail with a framework to deliver basic infrastructure – in particular, water supply and sanitation, access to transit, electricity and solid waste management. This is crucial to mitigate the externalities associated with urban growth. Planning and economic policies in particular can help create a strong link in delivering both housing and infrastructure.

Green Cities – A view from an ‘optimistic economist’

Professor Matthew Kahn (UCLA) participated in the second plenary session at GDN’s 13th Annual Conference, looking at the topic of cities as an engine of growth.

Professor Kahn presented his work as an ‘optimistic economist‘ about green cities all over the world. Cities face many environmental challenges as there are more cars, more people, more greenhouse gases. If we don’t have new ideas, these problems will just increase and become more pressing. So where to find reasons for optimism? According to professor Kahn, when we are able to anticipate challenges, that creates the right incentive to step up and address them.

In this context, social media plays a big role in spreading the world about best practices all over the world – this can now happen much faster than before, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and the like. Green ideas can therefore spread quickly as soon as they emerge, anywhere in the world.


Agglomeration Shadow: A Non-Linear Core–Periphery Model of Urban Growth in China (1990-2006)

The core–periphery (CP) model lacks evidence from real data for the nonlinear relationship between distance to core and market potential. The process of industrialization, as well as the geographic diversity across cities, makes China suitable for practical application of the CP model.

The paper presented during the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference by Zheng Xu (University of Connecticut) by Uses Chinese city-level data from 1990 to 2006 to estimates the impact of spatial interactions in China’s urban system on urban economic growth, and fills the gap between CP model and reality. The results show that proximity to major ports and international markets is essential for urban growth. Moreover, the geography–growth relationship follows the ∽-shaped nonlinear pattern implied by the CP model, presenting the existence of agglomeration shadow.

Spatial Concentration/Diversification in India

The process of urbanization in India is large city oriented. Beside the dominance of large cities, there is spatial disparity in terms of their distribution and other characteristics. Since class I cities itself is not a homogeneous category, this paper aims to see the effect of location on characteristics of these cities. In this context it compares the class I cities located within UA boundaries and those located outside UA’s in terms of their growth characteristics. It also aims to analyze the process of concentration/dispersal of population in the urban agglomerations of million plus cities. It also analyses the sectoral and spatial concentration of workforce in class I cities according to size class and their location within or outside the urban agglomerations.

The paper Spatial Concentration/Diversification: Comparative Analysis of Class I Cities Located within and outside Urban Agglomerations in India (1991-2001) presented byRupinder Kaur (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) at the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference concludes that Indian urbanization is experiencing concentrated decentralization where growth is concentrated in class I cities particularly within UAs. While within this category, cities located outside UAs are catching up with those located within UAs. There is a movement from monocentric to polycentric urban pattern in largest UAs of the country. Larger class I cities are experiencing workforce diversification while concentration tendencies are found in smaller cities particularly those which are located outside UAs.


Meghalaya Model to fight against human trafficking

Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. It means the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs. The legal end of slavery only pushed it under the ground – making the modern slaves invisible.

Meghalaya Model is a comprehensive approach to address human trafficking from different angles, engaging stakeholders to work in a collaborative network, connected by Impulse Case Info Center. Hasina Kharbhi, finalist in the 2011 Global Development Awards Competition – Japanese Award for the Most Innovative Development Project (MIDP), presented this initiative at the GDN 13th Annual Conference. In this video, Hasina introduces the project and what it aims to achieve.


Meghalaya Model is designed to track and rescue trafficked children; to facilitate rehabilitation, making sure that survivors will not get re-trafficked; provide families with livelihood alternatives; to prosecute offenders; to create new policies making the fight against human trafficking always more efficient; and to raise awareness, also through media, preventing human trafficking all together. These activities translate to the pillars of Meghalaya Model, which are the five “Ps” Prevention, Protection, Policing, Press and Prosecution. The process of Meghalaya Model is Reporting, Rescue, Rehabilitation, Repatriation and Re-education.

Through a collaborative, far-reaching network children are more likely to be recovered, traffickers will face prosecution and survivors will have better access to rehabilitation. To make the collaboration more coordinated and proficient between the stakeholders, Impulse established Case Information Centre. It is a one of a kind database to collect all the information about human trafficking cases reported to Impulse or to its partners. Impulse Case Info Center has facilitated over 2000 (and counting) rescue operations of human trafficking victims – none of the survivors have been re-trafficked.

Before the invention of the Meghalaya Model there was no other workable system in order to combat human trafficking in the Northeast of India in a holistic network approach. Now the Model is replicated in all the 8 states of Northeast India bringing together Government and Police Departments to address the issue of human trafficking collectively.

Strengthening youth capacity to climate change mitigation and adaptation

Verengai Mabika finalist in the 2011 Global Development Awards Competition – Japanese Award for the Most Innovative Development Project (MIDP), presented his project at the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference. In this video, he introduces the project and what it aims to achieve.

Development Reality Institute (DRI) has pioneered a catalytic and innovative capacity building programme for youth in Africa aimed at strengthening their capacity to effectively mitigate and adapt the effect of climate change in their communities. The program is a source of inspiration and a platform for experience sharing for the youth as they device solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. DRI project has three output areas which are:

  • Strengthening youth capacity to climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • Strengthening institutional, legal and policy framework for climate change programming; and
  • Promoting innovative ideas in coping with climate change by harnessing and documenting indigenous knowledge systems.

DRI project fulfils its objectives through a Climate Change Virtual School, video conferencing and live streaming, Cool clubs, policy dialogue and knowledge management activities.

Global Financial Governance: Quo Vadis?

The final Roundtable Session of the GDN conference discussed Global Financial Governance, and revealed a range of views and perspectives on the causes of the recent crisis, and some consensus on what needs to be done to avoid – or at least mitigate the worse effects of – the next one.

Ernesto Zedillo, Chair of GDN and Director of Yale Center for the Study of Globalisation, made the simple case for new forms of global governance. He said “We have more intense globalisation, more interdependence and therefore we need more global governance.” He said that the initial impetus for such reform during the 1990s, catalysed in part by the late Willy Brandt’s book ‘Our Global Neighbourhood’, had gone nowhere.

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Regionalism provides solidarity for Islanders

Wood Uti Salele from the Oceania Development Network (ODN) chaired the parallel session. ‘Regionalism on Service Delivery in Pacific Island States; Emerging Issues’ discussed the recent changes in approaches to Pacific regionalism and their impact on service delivery at household, district, national and Pacific-wide levels.

The session included a paper by Claire Slatter from the School of Social Sciences, University of the South Pacific in Fiji, titled ‘Reclaiming Pacific Island Regionalism: Women’s Voices’. Slatter approached the issue from a critical perspective focusing on easing capacity constraints for governments through increases in the provision of services and new pacific regionalism. Read more of this post

Assessing Participatory Development: Reflections from the World Bank

GDN 2010 Conference: Parellel sessionParticipation has become a ‘buzz’ word strongly associated with varying forms of governance. In the development field participatory approaches to decision-making have emerged in part as a consequence of governments’ failure to get funds and services to the most poor and vulnerable. Participation through community engagement attempts to place the emphasis on ‘the people on the ground’, the poor and vulnerable who are often excluded from the process of identifying their own needs.

The session ‘Participatory Development: Assessing the Evidence on Policy and Practice’ offered representatives from the World Bank’s Development Research Group and associated scholars the opportunity to discuss the current ‘state of play’ in terms of participatory approaches and how they are assessed. The topic was framed by the World Bank’s policy research report entitled Localising Development: Challenges of Policy and Practice. Read more of this post