Date of publication
October 2016

This yearbook chapter discusses the link between international investment law and commercial pressures on the world’s natural resources. It argues that changes in legal frameworks are redefining control over natural resources, and facilitating transitions toward more commercialised land relations. As pressures on resources increase, many national laws undermine the rights of people impacted by investments. If not properly thought through, international treaties to protect foreign investment could compound shortcomings of local and national governance. Addressing these issues requires a holistic understanding of the interplay of national and international law. Ongoing debates about reforming the investment treaty regime need to consider the on-the-ground reality of investment processes in low and middle-income countries. At the same time, only by tackling the international dimensions will it be possible to secure land rights at the grassroots.

A Q&A on Law in the natural resource squeeze: ‘land grabbing’, investment treaties and human rights (first link below) provides a fuller summary of the main findings.


Date of publication
August 2012
Geographical focus

Buying, selling and mortgaging farmland
are still rare in Eastern and Central Europe. Not
surprisingly, given the level of risk in many of these
countries, short-term transactions, especially leasing, are
more common. These short-term transactions do almost as well
as land sales in allocating resources. Making them more
secure by improving simple registration and enforcement
systems and increasing public access to information on what
is for rent and at what price would do much help revive the
farm sector.

Date of publication
July 2014
Geographical focus

The purpose ofthis report is to provide guidance to the staff of the World Bank's
Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region with respect to mobilizing cultural assets to
support socioeconomic development in our country and regional work programs. To this
end it seeks to demonstrate how and when it makes sense for us to get involved in
activities related to cultural asset mobilization. Equally important, it also indicates how
and when we should leave cultural heritage activities to others. In particular, this report
addresses the following questions:
• What do we mean by integrating culture and cultural assets into our work?
• Why may cultural assets be of importance for a development institution like the
World Bank?
• What is particular about the cultural assets of the ECA Region?
• What lessons can be drawn from ECA's experience with interventions focused
on cultural assets to date?
• How should ECA staff address issues of cultural assets in the future?

Date of publication
August 2013
Geographical focus

The paper's main objectives are to
provide a common thematic basis for urban transport inputs
into the making of country-specific assistance strategies,
and thereafter to guide urban transport project and sector
work included in the business plans agreed under these
strategies. It is a companion volume to the forthcoming ECA
Transport Strategy Paper, which covers all modes of
transport. It also represents a bridge between the
project-related and policy studies done for specific
cities/countries in ECA, and the Bank-wide urban transport
policy, whose latest expression is the document Cities on
the Move: The World Bank Urban Transport Strategy Review,
published in August 2002. Also, urban transport activities
being highly interdependent with other aspects of urban life
and economy, this paper is related to parallel Bank writings
on urban development, water, and environment in the ECA region.

Date of publication
August 2013
Geographical focus

Lithuania's long-term economic
strategy aims at building the foundations for achieving
rapid convergence with Western European countries. The
medium-term objective of the economic policy is to meet the
economic criteria for accession and to get ready for
membership in the European and Monetary Union (EMU) after
accession. This will be acheived through continued
macroeconomic stability, fiscal consolidation, and further
implementation of structural reforms needed for an efficient
functioning of the market economy, improved productivity,
and enhancement of competitiveness. This report focuses on
three critical elements of the structural reform agenda: 1)
labor market reform, aimed at increasing labor market
flexibility and improving the utilization of labor resources
throughout the economy; 2) regulatory reform and reform of
the business environment, to support private sector
development and growth in both urban and rural areas; and 3)
social protection reform, to improve targeting,
effectiveness, and efficiency.

Date of publication
June 2013
Geographical focus

The transition economies of Central and
Eastern Europe, through the reform process of
decentralization, are now seeking the devolution of fiscal
powers, and responsibilities from central, to local
governments, within financially sustainable environments. To
this end, a system of local budgets, and taxes needs to be
devised, over which local governments may have control.
Thus, this report focuses on the tax on immovable real
property, one of the most important local tax options, and,
undertakes comparative analysis of tax policy formulation,
within a context of rapid institutional changes. Case
studies provide insights into the policy debates, and
choices that guide the process of property tax reform, and,
shed light on the entire cycle, from initial impetus, to
resulting legislation, and the subsequent administrative
challenges of assessment, collection, appeal, and review.
Because of the multiple roles of property taxation (as an
instrument of decentralization, an element of property
rights, an adjunct to privatization and restitution, and a
source of revenue), it is appropriate to consider its
development in multiple contexts. Therefore, the cases range
from first generation reformers, i.e., Poland, Estonia,
Slovakia, and parts of the Russian Federation, to later
efforts in the Czech Republic and Armenia. These cases aim
to broaden the understanding of available alternatives, and
their relationship to specific political, legal, and
economic settings.

Date of publication
July 2013
Geographical focus

This report reviews the status of the 28
countries of Europe and Central Asia (ECA) with respect to
the environmental Millennium Development Goal (MDG). The aim
of this goal is to 'ensure environmental
sustainability,' which is elaborated by a set of three
targets and eight indicators. The indicators for the
environment MDG are important not only as measures of
environmental sustainability, but also as contributors to
the health and poverty goals. In ECA, these linkages are
clearly brought out for the water supply and sanitation
indicators, but also apply to the carbon reduction, forestry
and biodiversity indicators. The three targets and its
indicator are: (i) halve, by 2015, the proportion of people
without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic
sanitation: (a) proportion of population with sustainable
access to an improved water source; and (b) proportion of
population with access to basic sanitation; (ii) integrate
the principles of sustainable development into country
policies and programs and reverse the losses of
environmental resources: (a) energy use (kg oil equivalent)
per $1 GDP(Purchasing Power Parity(PPP)); (b) carbon dioxide
emissions (per capita); (c) proportion of land area covered
by forest; (d) ratio of area protected to maintain
biological diversity to surface area; and (e) proportion of
population using solid fuels; (iii) by 2020 to have achieved
a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100
million slum dwellers: (a) proportion of households with
access to secure tenure.

Date of publication
August 2013
Geographical focus

The objective of the study is to analyze
conflict-induced displacement from the point of view of
vulnerability, using a multifaceted definition of
vulnerability. As many as 10 million people have been
displaced by war in the Europe and Central Asia region since
1990. While many people have been able to return home,
approximately half remain displaced, with no available
avenues for sustainable reintegration. Currently, in five
countries of the region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Georgia, and Serbia and Montenegro) displaced
persons (DPs) represent more than 5 percent of the total
population. In two other countries (Russia and Turkey), they
represent high proportions of the population in specific
regions (Ingushetia, southeast Turkey). A detailed analysis
of the causes and characteristics of displacement-induced
vulnerability, Living in Limbo provides pragmatic
operational recommendations for policy-makers and
practitioners in both development and humanitarian agencies.


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