Development Knowledge and Learning

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The Development Knowledge and Learning series is geared toward making specialized World Bank knowledge rapidly available to policy makers and the development community. Studies in the series comprise the knowledge outputs of the Bank's operational work, tend to be focused on narrowly defined topics, and can include works in progress that are disseminated for discussion purposes.

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    Revising Public Agricultural Support to Mitigate Climate Change
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-05-04) Searchinger, Timothy D. ; Malins, Chris ; Dumas, Patrice ; Baldock, David ; Glauber, Joe ; Jayne, Thomas ; Huang, Jikun ; Marenya, Paswell
    Agriculture generates roughly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, without major mitigation efforts, agricultural emissions are likely to reach levels that would make meeting global climate targets practically unachievable. Meanwhile, countries that produce two-thirds of the world's agricultural output provided US$600 billion per year in agricultural financial support on average from 2014 to 2016. By evaluating these support programs, both overall and with six case studies, this report finds that many governments have moved to make their farm support less likely to distort what farmers produce, but only a modest portion of programs support environmental objectives, and even fewer support the mitigation of climate change. Out of US$300 billion in direct spending, only 9 percent explicitly supports conservation, while another 12 percent supports research and technical assistance. Instances in which receiving government funding is contingent upon supporting environmental objectives provide models on which to build but so far have produced only modest environmental benefits. Because crop and pasture yields need to grow dramatically to avoid more deforestation and other conversion of native habitats, mitigation priorities include help for farmers to boost yields and livestock productivity. Yet to avoid inadvertently encouraging more conversion, this aid must be conditioned on the protection of forests and other native areas. Overall, climate-oriented support for agriculture should have as a guiding principle increasing the efficient use of land and other natural resources. Incentive programs should be structured so that they offer graduated payments for higher climate performance. Governments should also prioritize coordinated projects across multiple producers to explore critically needed innovations in farm management, and should support those projects with research and technical assistance.
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    A Benchmark for the Performance of State-Owned Water Utilities in the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020-01-29) Burdescu, Ruxandra ; van den Berg, Caroline ; Janson, Nils ; Alvarado, Oscar
    Improving the management and governance of state-owned enterprises in the water supply and sanitation sector in the Caribbean is critical. State-owned enterprises play a significant role in the economy through their impact on fiscal accounts and service delivery to citizens. This benchmark analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of 14 water utilities, with focus on Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Lucia. It is a tool for policy makers and practitioners seeking to improve service delivery in the sector, restore or maintain fiscal discipline, and pursue sector goals in a sustainable manner. In the Caribbean region and beyond, building smart and resilient water utilities for the future is a priority. The challenges are complex and multidimensional. Political problems, weak institutions, low capacity, and inefficient practices exacerbate less-than-satisfactory performance. These challenges cannot be met by applying a cookie-cutter approach or by focusing only on standard technical and managerial techniques. Improving corporate governance will increase operational and managerial efficiency. Evidence shows that water supply and sanitation utilities with access to commercial finance are more likely to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This benchmark finds that many of the analyzed state-owned water utilities are underperforming in terms of coverage, quality of service, operating efficiency, and financial performance. Overcoming these challenges will require long-term measures, with implementation that is likely to be ambitious and challenging. Shorter-term measures targeted at strengthening financial sustainability would involve establishing reliable cash flows that allow utilities to cover their costs. Benchmarking governance in state-owned enterprises varies across the region. Some countries have a strong governance framework with well-developed policies and legal and regulatory frameworks, while others have unclear sector policies and underdeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks. Water supply and sanitation utilities with better-developed governance frameworks usually perform better than those with underdeveloped frameworks.