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Sustainable Rural and Urban Development Research

The research program on environmental issues focuses on topics at the household and firm level as well as at the national and global level.It includes studies on "brown" issues (indoor pollution, health hazards of agricultural pesticides), pollution related to transport and industrial activities, related regulatory policies, and climate change and the associated global, regional and national impacts, mitigation and adaptation policies, and carbon trading mechanisms.


This program addresses the role of infrastructure in urban and regional development—both to increase poor people’s access to crucial services and to provide an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth.


One area of research examines how national and regional infrastructure investments can complement natural advantage and other agglomeration economies in promoting economic growth. This includes city level public services that benefit both households and firms as well as regional investments, in particular in the transport sector.


Another focus area investigates options for infrastructure reforms—restructuring, privatizing, and establishing new approaches to regulation. This includes the assessment of the outcomes of infrastructure reform and its distributional consequences, especially for poor households and other disadvantaged groups.


Rural Development
The Rural Development research program focuses on policies and public investments that affect the growth of, efficiency of resource allocation in, rural economies, as well as the well being and poverty of rural populations. Various studies focus on issues of land policy, community driven development, rural finance, the economics and institutions of water allocation, agricultural extension, and several aspects of rural investment climate (such as the impact of rural roads and rural energy infrastructure).


Urban Development and Spatial Economics
This work program deals with problems related to rapid urban growth in developing countries as well as with the potential contributions to economic growth from dynamically growing cities.

At the city level this research focuses on access to public services, housing market dynamics and their link to employment opportunities, and ways to improve the fiscal sustainability of urban service provision. Closely related are impact evaluations of urban upgrading projects, titling, and other pro-poor policies for improving the life of slum dwellers.


At the regional level, the research program focuses on the role of cities in providing a dynamic environment for private sector growth and on the effectiveness of policies to promote development in lagging regions, such as infrastructure investments and secondary city strategies. These activities are closely linked to the concepts of the new economic geography and typically utilize georeferenced data and spatial analytic techniques.

GIS Spatial Analysis Unit
An increasing number of research activities in the Sustainable Rural and Urban Development team—as well as in other DECRG teams and other units in the Bank—involve the compilation, analysis and dissemination of spatially referenced information. The spatial analysis team uses geographic information systems and spatial analytic techniques to support research and operational activities in areas as diverse as household survey analysis, poverty mapping, rural land management, hazard risk identification, investment climate assessments, natural resource management, and transport sector analysis.

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