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Weekly News Roundup: First Week of January 2013

The weekly news roundup is back! In the first full week of the new year, we’ve already got a lot of interesting things to catch you up on. Check out some of our selected readings below!

Globalization and Rising Inequality: A Big Question and Lousy Answers (Council on Foreign Relations)

Globalization has long been a tricky subject among the development community and economists. On the one hand, relaxing borders and lowering trade/business restrictions could open the world up to more activity that would ultimately benefit the majority of people and lower global inequality, but it is always the case that there are some who gain much and some who gain little. The argument has been that those who gain much should give back to those who gain little, but how? Edward Alden, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, looks at some of the answers people have given in the past and how they ultimately prove inadequate. Although Alden focuses on inequality in the U.S., his thoughts could be pertinent to Vietnam too.

Regional Integration: Asia’s New Frontier in 2013 (In Asia)

Over half of world trade takes place between members of regional trade agreements…Southeast Asia is shoring up its economic integration efforts through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community Blueprint for 2015, with plans to continue attracting foreign direct investment, capitalize in the growth of its neighbors (mainly China and India) and accelerate the pace of its trade facilitation through a single market strategy….

As noted by the economists of the Asia Foundation, Asia is heading into a period of rapid regional integration, and Southeast Asia has taken an active lead in the process (a true change from many Southeast Asian’s isolationist tendencies in the past). Regional integration, like globalization, can bring with it rapid growth, but the Asia Foundation’s economists also note that increased cooperation between these countries can stave off economic shocks and push forward socioeconomic and environmental issues. Of course, regional integration alone will not be a cure-all; among individual countries, investing in infrastructure and human capital still remain top priorities.

Painting the Town Green: Asia’s Smart City Revolution (In Asia)

People are moving into cities at a faster rate than ever. But even though cities make up a small portion of overall land distribution, they still consume 75% of the planet’s resources and produce the most waste. In no where is this more apparent than Asia, where three-quarters of Asian cities fail to meet European Union air quality standards. To combat the environmental damage of cities, many planners and developers in Asia are looking at ways to design “green cities”–cities that rely on “renewable resources, green space, recycling, energy-saving building, and other friendly measures.” Examples of such new technology being put in place include Vietnam, where urban metro rail systems are being looked into.

4 Philanthropy Fallacies (Arabella Advisors)

2012’s year-end giving rush has come to an end, but that’s no reason to stop thinking charitably. No matter what month or season, we should be thinking about how we can make the most of our donations and yield the best impact possible. In this article, philanthropy advisor Eric Kessler dispels four common fallacies you should NOT fall for, including the myth that other people know where you should give; that the money you give should only go to programs; that impact is obvious; and that giving to big organizations is always a reliable solution.

City Transport: It’s About Moving People, Not Vehicles  (World Bank)

Like most things, an expanding transportation system can be a double edged sword. Opening up roads can mean more traffic, which has detrimental effects on the environment and public health. As this blog post notes, “14 percent of climate changing greenhouse gases come from the transport sector, and 90 percent of urban air pollution is generated by motor vehicles.” (Consider Vietnam’s notoriously dense and dangerous traffic.) But an “inclusive urban transport system” can ultimately bring about much good as well, connecting people to one another, bringing people to jobs, and expanding access to education and healthcare. You can join World Bank President Jim Kim and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a discussion on improving transportation on January 17 – 18 via the World Bank’s website.

The Developing World Needs More Female Internet Users (Slate)

Even as the world becomes increasingly interconnected through the web, where a single tweet can spread like wildfire and a viral YouTube video can make a South Korean rapper a household name, a new report by the UN, the U.S. State Department, and Intel finds that across the developing world, there are 23% fewer women online than men. Part of this is because of availability and affordability, with the internet just not being a modern convenience poorer women have access to yet, but part of it is also due to continued patriarchal dominance in many countries that precludes women from using computers and accessing technology. With this in mind, the report outlines a plan the current 600 million women online to 1.2 billion in the next year. The increased number of women online could increase GDP across developing countries up by $13 to $18 billion, as women find a new source for their consumption and open up online businesses of their own. Check out the full report, “Women and the Web: Bridging the Internet Gap and Creating New Global Opportunities in Low and Middle-Income Countries,” here.

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