Faculty share ideas with World Bank

More than 150 faculty members from UBC and other western Canadian universities took part in a two-day workshop with World Bank senior officials on campus recently to explore ways of working together to help developing countries achieve sustainable growth.

"This was a unique, unprecedented initiative on the bank's part," says workshop organizer Prof. Tony Dorcey of the Institute for Resources and Environment. "It was an incredible opportunity to hear directly from senior officers about the bank's plans going into the next century and how UBC researchers could support them."

The bank was attracted to UBC because of its research strengths, especially in Asian countries, says Tim Cullen, World Bank senior adviser of external affairs.

"We knew we could get valuable feedback from academics," he says. "Also, if our work is to be understood in Canada, we couldn't find a more influential group to speak with."

Seventeen UBC researchers from the Liu Centre for International Studies, the Sustainable Development Research Institute, the School of Community and Regional Planning, the Institute of Asian Research, the Economics Dept. and the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration made presentations related to themes for bank programs in the next century.

Topics included poverty eradication, sustainable development and natural resources, environment and health, and megacities.

UBC President Martha Piper led some of the discussion concerning potential World Bank/UBC collaboration, which could include areas such as applied research, specialized training for officials of developing countries and operations evaluation.

The World Bank's executive director for Canada, as well as Cullen and five other senior bank members, travelled from bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. to describe programs and priorities to UBC researchers.

Dorcey says the workshop has opened the door to becoming part of the World Bank network.

"This workshop was an investment in the future," says Dorcey, who has worked with the bank on international waterways planning. "Our expertise relating to developing countries could result in hands-on work on real problems in real time."

The World Bank promotes sustainable economic growth in developing countries by providing loans, technical assistance and policy guidance.It is also a centre of research in economics and development policy issues.

Canada is a non-borrowing member of the World Bank's 181-country membership.