Recently the Country Manager of World Bank Liberia, Ms. Larisa Leshchenko spoke at the University of Liberia Third Research Symposium for the 98th Commencement Activities held at the UL Fendell Campus, Rural Montserrado County on December 12, 2017; below is the full text of Ms. Leshchenko’s speech:
Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, President, University of Liberia;
Professor Weade Kobbah-Boley, Vice President for Administration, University of Liberia;
Rev. Dr. Julius S. Nelson, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Liberia;
Other Officials of the University of Liberia and Liberian Government;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the World Bank family, I am pleased to be with you here today at this scholarly occasion bringing together officials of the University of Liberia, officials of the Liberian Government, foreign dignitaries, Honored graduates and other distinguished guests. I want to start by congratulating all honored graduates of the various academic programs at the University of Liberia who have distinguished themselves by exceptional academic performance, thus enabling them to participate in the Symposium today.
According to the theme of this Symposium: “Research, the Gateway to Finding Solutions to Critical National and Global Issues,” clearly lays out the foundation in arriving at solutions to critical problems underpinning growth and development of societies. Therefore, I want to applaud the authorities of the University of Liberia for attaching importance to this Honors Program Day, which is executed annually.
For the purpose of my remarks, I will be delving a bit into the significance of Research for Sustainable Development. As you may be aware, the World Bank is a development institution that works with countries around the world with the aim of reducing poverty and boosting shared growth and prosperity.
The concept of sustainable development requires balancing economic, societal and environmental considerations in the pursuit of development and an improved quality of life. According to the Global Business Research Journal, sustainability includes intergenerational and gender equity, just and peaceful societies, social tolerance, environmental preservation and restoration, poverty alleviation and natural resource conservation. Essential tools for achieving sustainable development include the following:
- Improving the quality of basic research;
- Reorienting existing research programs to address sustainable development;
- Developing public awareness and understanding; and
- Providing training for all sectors of society, mainly public and civil.
Research for Sustainable Development is the focus of research that seeks to equip or prepare people towards creating a sustainable future. Stakeholders such as government, businesses, research and academic institutions, media, and other organizations play important roles in achieving sustainable development. Each of these categories of stakeholders has a different vision of sustainable development. Some are interested in environmental preservation and protection; some have economic development interests; while others may be more interested in social development.
According to UNESCO (2000) report, the way each nation, cultural group and individual views sustainable development will depend on its own values. In many European nations, universities and technical colleges train students of science, economics and business management in skills that help to build more sustainable societies. Programs such as Peace Research, Human Right Research, Environmental Research and “Youth Entrepreneur” schemes are carried out in many academic institutions. Such initiatives help students and lecturers to gain understanding of the inter-linkages needed for sustainable development. The emphasis has been on research that will provide life and occupational skills that will enhance the potentials of individual, reinforcing self-sufficiency and improving quality of life.
Research, therefore, is a systematic search and investigation for increasing the sum of knowledge, the search and application of this knowledge for development of new and improved products, services and industrial processes of capital development which have emerged to occupy the center stage in the activities of the universities. This is understandable because research and development have become the most enduring and effective means of boosting sustainable economic development and re-enforcing competitiveness in the face of rapid growth taking place between industries, countries and people in the world. This is a search or investigation which is directed to the discovery of some facts by careful consideration or study of a subject.
Let us take a quick look at the World Bank, which is a knowledge-based institution that helps many students, researchers, policy makers and other categories of professional stakeholders satisfy their insatiable thirst for knowledge. The Bank regularly produces lots of reports, analytical works and other knowledgeable materials spanning several sectors of development in society. These resources are made available through our Access to Information Policy.
The World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information has enabled the organization to become a global leader in transparency and has made a groundbreaking change in how the World Bank makes information available to the public. Now the public has access to more information than ever before-information about projects under preparation, projects under implementation, analytic and advisory activities, and Board proceedings.
Underlying the policy is the principle that the World Bank (namely the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association) will disclose any information in its possession that is not on its list of exceptions. The exceptions include the following:
* Personal Information
* Communications of Governors and/or Executive Directors’ Offices
* Ethics Committee
* Attorney-Client Privilege
* Security and Safety
* Information Restricted Under Separate Disclosure Regimes and Other Investigative Information
* Information Provided by Member Countries or Third Parties in Confidence
* Corporate Administrative Matters
* Deliberative Information
* Financial Information (Forecasts, Analysis, Transactions, Banking and Billing)
The policy also outlines a clear process for making information publicly available and provides a right to appeal if information-seekers believe they were improperly or unreasonably denied access to information or there is a public interest case to override an exception that restricts access to certain information.
How has the policy changed?
Over the past 20 years, the World Bank’s policy on disclosing information has gradually evolved. Before the adoption of the Policy on Access to Information, the World Bank’s approach had been to spell out what documents the World Bank discloses. The World Bank’s Policy on Access to Information, which became effective on July 1, 2010, was a pivotal shift in the World Bank’s approach to making information available to the public.
The World Bank Access to Information Policy was revised by the World Bank’s Board on April 3, 2013. The Policy, as revised, took effect on July 1, 2013. The World Bank recognizes that transparency and accountability are of fundamental importance to the development process and to achieving its mission to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Transparency is essential to building and maintaining public dialogue and increasing public awareness about the Bank’s development role and mission. It is also critical for enhancing good governance, accountability, and development effectiveness. Openness promotes engagement with stakeholders, which, in turn, improves the design and implementation of projects and policies, and strengthens development outcomes. It facilitates public oversight of Bank supported operations during their preparation and implementation, which not only assists in exposing potential wrongdoing and corruption, but also enhances the possibility that problems will be identified and addressed early on.
With the wealth of information available to the public online, I want to strongly urge students and faculty of the University of Liberia to regularly visit the Bank’s website to gain access to valuable information. The Bank supported bringing of the Fiber Optic Cable to Liberia to assist various institutions, including learning institutions like the University of Liberia to help students and faculty members gain access to affordable internet services. Through research using the internet, your quest for knowledge will be partly satisfied. Therefore, I want to challenge you honored graduates to pursue knowledge through research. This will help you contribute to the growth and development of Liberia.
On behalf of the World Bank, a development institution, I want to assure you Madam President of our continuing commitment to working with the University of Liberia and other higher institutions of learning. Our collaboration with you all will greatly contribute to the Human Development capacity in Liberia, which is very essential for the continuous growth and development of Liberia. I want to pay tribute to former University of Liberia President Dr. Emmett Dennis, who laid the foundation for this important partnership. We pledge to continue this professional relationship.