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World Bank in Turkey Focuses on Protecting People and Firms

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As Turkey continued to battle the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, the World Bank extended financing worth $1.5 billion for five critical development projects, during Fiscal Year 2021, which ended on June 30.

The financial support, together with technical and policy advice and analytical work, contribute to the implementation of Turkey’s 11th National Development Plan, as laid out in the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework (FY17-23). With the new lending approvals in 2021, the active lending portfolio in Turkey has reached just over $7 billion covering 23 projects.

“Given the ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank is supporting Turkey to limit the harm from the pandemic, while advancing progress on long-term development needs. Our programs, during the fiscal year that just ended, help to preserve jobs, maintain the private sector, improve resilience to climate change and other development priorities,” said Auguste Kouame, World Bank Country Director for Turkey.

Highlights of financing support during FY21 are:

Supporting Turkey’s Response to the COVID-19 Response

After delivering two pandemic response projects in FY20 for health, education and access to finance for export firms, the Bank delivered in FY21 two additional critical projects to help preserve jobs and viable small and medium size firms:

  • The $500 million Turkey Emergency Firm Support Project aimed at ensuring access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by – or adapting to – the economic impacts of COVID-19. The project is being implemented through sub-loans managed by VakifBank and the Development Bank of Turkey (TKYB).
  • The $300 million Rapid Support for Micro and Small Enterprises during the COVID-19 Crisis Project, implemented by KOSGEB, aims at averting the closure of viable micro and small enterprises (MSEs) affected by the pandemic and maintain their employment levels. The project supports people and firms by providing reimbursable financing for manufacturing firms and other innovative young firms focusing on manufacturing, scientific research and development, and computer programming.

Maintaining a Focus on the Long-term Development Agenda

The Bank’s emergency COVID-19 operations did not derail the focus on long-term development challenges or its strategy to support Turkey’s climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience efforts. In line with the Country Partnership Framework (CPF), the Bank’s regular program of support continued to focus on inclusive and sustainable growth with a renewed focus on the climate change agenda:

  • A $300 million Organized Industrial Zones (OIZ) Project for Turkey, implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Technology (MoIT), with the objective to support investments in basic infrastructure – such as new roads, water and gas pipelines, power lines, and logistics facilities – as well as in “green” infrastructure – including improved energy and water efficiency facilities, advanced wastewater treatment plants, and energy-efficient buildings in industrial zones.
  • A $135 million Turkey Resilient Landscape Integration Project (TULIP) aimed at improving livelihoods and resilient infrastructure services for rural communities in the Bolaman River Basin, located in the eastern Black Sea Region, and Cekerek River Basin in central Anatolia Region. The project will support investments in resilient landscape integration in targeted areas and restore and maintain green infrastructure and promote sustainable livelihoods.
  • A $265 million loan to Turkey’s Seismic Resilience and Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings Project to strengthen the safety of public buildings against the dangers of earthquakes while also improving energy efficiency to reduce energy bills and harmful carbon emissions. The project aims at better insulating, strengthening or reconstructing more than 140 schools, dormitories, hospitals, and government buildings, directly benefiting about 26,000 people who live, work or use these buildings, including school children and employees. More broadly, the benefits will accrue to more than 6 million citizens reliant on the public services provided by the targeted buildings.

Development Challenges Related to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Bank also contributed to Government efforts in managing the refugee crisis which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and requires stronger efforts to protect those most at risk, including women. As part of the program of support to regions and municipalities hosting refugees, the Bank continued to implement and prepare new projects that benefit from the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT) financing.

Building on the success of projects managed by the World Bank under FRIT-1, the Bank signed Administrative Agreements for five new Recipient Executed Trust Funds (RETFs) from the second batch of FRIT Funds also known as FRIT-2. The five projects, worth € 392 million, are:

  • Municipal Services Improvement Project in Refugee Affected Areas;
  • Formal Employment Creation for Refugees and Turkish Citizens;
  • Employment Support and Activation of Work-Able People under Protection and Turkish Citizens Project;
  • Agricultural Employment Support for Refugees and Turkish Citizens through Enhanced Market Linkages;
  • Social Entrepreneurship, Empowerment and Cohesion in Refugee and Host Communities.

Sharing Knowledge for Better Policies

The World Bank delivered policy-oriented research and analytical work that has informed Government policy and programs, facilitated the preparation of many WBG-funded projects, and underpinned investments from other development partners.  In FY21, areas of focus for the World Bank’s Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA) included the bi-annual Turkey Economic Monitoring (TEM) reports; Policy dialogue on the digital economy in Turkey; Women’s Access to Economic Opportunities in Turkey; Leveraging Global Value Chains for Growth in Turkey; Buildings Resilience in Turkey; Improved Equity and Social Services; Impact of Syrian Refugee Crisis; Turkey Business Environment; Advisory Support for Turkey on Smart Grid Options, Generation Planning and Commercial Financing; Enhancing the Impact of the Turkish Court of Accounts on Good Public Governance; Review of National Planning, Policy Formulation and Public Financial Management Institutions and Performance; Building Institutional Capacity for Risk Informed Decision Making and Urban Resilience in Turkey.

Looking Ahead

“We are very pleased to have had a productive fiscal year 2021 working closely with the Government as well as many stakeholders and development partners in Turkey to support the people of Turkey in the face of COVID-19 and the refugee crisis while contributing to Turkey’s long-term development ambitions and its strong climate change agenda.  We look forward to building on this success as we start a new fiscal year yea,” added Mr. Kouame.

Projects under preparation for the new Fiscal Year include: Geothermal Development Project Additional Financing; Urban Resilience Project; Integrated Water Conservation Project; Climate Smart and Competitive Growth in Agrifood Value Chains; Scaling-up Distributed Solar PVs in Turkey; and Izmir Post-Earthquake Green, Resilient and Inclusive Emergency Reconstruction Project. For these projects, no lending agreement has been signed yet.  Finalization of the preparation of these projects and their submission for internal approval are subject to the confirmation of continued interest from all involved borrowing and pre-identified implementing institutions.

Analytical work underway includes: Climate Change and Development Report (CCDR); Sustainable Recovery and Green Growth Analytical and Advisory Program including a Low-Carbon Options Paper; Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Technical Assistance; Impact of the proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism; Public Expenditures and Fiscal tools to support green transformation; Private Investment for Climate Adaptation; Regional Disparities and Development; Human Capital Review and Education Quality; Social Development; Energy Transition and E-Mobility; Pandemics Preparedness; Institutional Development for High Income Status; Options for Enabling Long Term Financein Turkey.

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Development

Vaccination, Jobs, and Social Assistance are All Key to Reducing Poverty in Central Asia

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As the pace of economic recovery picks up, countries in Central Asia have an opportunity to return to pre-pandemic levels of poverty reduction – if they put in place the right policies. This was the overall message shared by World Bank economists today at a regional online event “Overcoming the Pandemic and Ending Poverty in Central Asia”.

In the early 2000s, Central Asian countries were among the world’s best performers in poverty reduction. Starting in 2009, however, the pace of progress began to slow and even stagnated in some of the countries. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted a region already struggling to generate inclusive growth and end extreme poverty. Now in the second year of the pandemic, poverty rates in Central Asia are falling again, but with high inflation and low vaccination rates, the poor and the most vulnerable continue to suffer from food insecurity, uncertainty, and limited employment opportunities, especially for women.

“Central Asia is recovering from the first shocks of the pandemic, albeit in uneven ways,” said Will Seitz, World Bank Senior Economist in Central Asia. “Migration and remittances, key drivers of poverty reduction in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, are quickly returning to 2019 levels. Labor markets are also recovering, and work disruptions are much less common. However, the region is yet to get on a stable poverty reduction path.”

Among policy priorities to reduce poverty, the World Bank is focused on three key areas: widespread vaccination, increasing employment and wages, and strengthening social assistance programs to support the most vulnerable. To support labor market recovery, the World Bank economists outlined short-term and medium-term measures, including the need to invest in green jobs and encouraging the creation and growth of firms.

It was also stressed that employment alone will not address all drivers of poverty, and strong safety nets are essential to protect the most vulnerable. Compared with other middle-income countries, Central Asian governments typically provide smaller shares of their populations with social assistance.

“Along with ensuring fair, broad access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines, Central Asian countries need to urgently address vaccination hesitancy, as it threatens to slow down the recovery,” said Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “For every million people vaccinated, global GDP recovers on average nearly $8 billion. We are expecting advanced economies with relatively high vaccination rates to demonstrate much better growth rates than developing economies with low vaccination rates.”

Among the main reasons behind vaccine hesitancy in Central Asian countries are worries about vaccine contraindication and safety. While people with pre-existing health conditions in other countries are usually prioritized for vaccination, in the Central Asia region they are more likely to be hesitant to get vaccinated. Providing the public with accurate information on the safety of vaccines and encouraging people with pre-existing health conditions to be vaccinated may help address hesitancy issues.

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Vietnam’s Development Agenda Receives Additional Boost

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Vietnam’s push to enhance competitiveness, reduce its carbon footprint, and improve lives and livelihoods has been given a boost with the approval of an AUD 5 million grant by the Australian Government.

This grant represents additional funding to the ongoing Australia – Bank Partnership in Vietnam (ABP), which focuses on a wide range of policy areas designed to support the country’s development agenda.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on Vietnam’s reform agenda and exacerbate inequalities, which are more pronounced and harder to close for ethnic minorities, for women and for other marginalized groups. Responding to this, Australia’s extended collaboration with the World Bank will continue to support Vietnam’s quick economic recovery and help achieve its development goals,” said Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam HE Robyn Mudie.

The ABP will continue its work on gender equality and the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta. In addition, it will also help address new priorities set out in the country’s recently adopted Socio-Economic Development Strategy and Socio-Economic Development Plan, including the transition to a low carbon economy, social equity and inclusion, and innovation-driven growth.

“The ABP will continue providing high-quality advisory work, enabling Vietnamese policymakers to pursue substantive reforms,” said Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “These reforms are needed both for recovery from the economic costs of COVID, but also to set a solid basis for the pathway to higher income status.”

The ABP was established in 2017 with an initial funding amount of AUD 25 million. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABP responded quickly and provided an additional AUD 5 million to support Vietnam to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic. The program leverages expertise from Australia and the World Bank Group to support the Government of Vietnam in strengthening its development policies and programs.

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Cotton sustains more than 100 million families worldwide

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Women workers clean cotton in Multan city in Pakistan. © FAO/Aamir Qureshi

A single metric tonne of cotton provides jobs for five people on average, often in some of the world’s most impoverished regions; that adds up around 100 million families across the globe. 

To recognize these and other contributions, the United Nations is marking World Cotton Day, this Thursday. 

Cotton is an important means of livelihood for millions of smallholders and attracts export revenues to some of the poorest countries. This makes the sector a key contributor to reaching the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

For the UN, this natural fabric “represents so much more than just a commodity”, it is “a life-changing product.” 

Important source 

Cotton is a major source of income for many rural laborers, including women. With this World Day, the UN wants to raise awareness of the critical role that cotton plays in economic development, international trade and poverty alleviation. 

The initiative also wants to highlight the importance of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. 

Resilient and multipurpose 

As a crop resistant to climatic changes, cotton can be planted in dry and arid zones. It occupies just 2.1 per cent of the world’s arable land, but it meets 27 per cent of the world’s textile needs. 

Around 80 per cent of cotton is used in the clothing industry, 15 per cent in home furnishings and the remaining 5 per cent mostly accounts for non-woven applications, such as filters and padding. 

Almost nothing from cotton is wasted. In addition to textiles and apparel, food products can be derived from it, such as edible oil and animal feed from the seed. 

Other uses have been developed recently, like using cotton-based filaments in 3D printers, because they conduct heat well, become stronger when wet, and are more scalable than materials like wood. 

The ‘Cotton Four’ 

The idea for the World Day was born in 2019, when four cotton producers in sub-Saharan Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, known as the Cotton Four -proposed a celebration on October 7, to the World Trade Organization

With the UN officially recognizing the date, it became an opportunity to create awareness of the need of market access from least developed countries, to foster sustainable trade policies and to enable developing countries to benefit more from every step of the value chain. 

For years, UN agencies have worked towards this goal. 

For instance, since 2003, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization have helped the Cotton Four to improve production local processing capacity, as well as to discuss the trade reforms needed to address high trade barriers.  

Another UN agency, FAO, has long offered developing countries technical and policy support. One example is the +Cotton project, a cooperation initiative with Brazil that helps Latin American producers with innovative farming methods.

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