SPPD Signs Pact With World Bank
The memorandum of understanding is signed during a conference focusing on challenges facing megacities in the developing world.
At a ceremony at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., university officials and World Bank representatives also convened the first cooperative venture under the new agreement: a day-long conference on the challenges facing megacities in the developing world.
Representing USC at the signing ceremony were Adam Clayton Powell III, vice provost for globalization; Jack H. Knott, dean of SPPD; and Eric Heikkila, professor and director of international initiatives for SPPD.
Representing the World Bank were James Adams, vice president for the East Asia and Pacific Region; John Roome, director of sustainable development for the East Asia and Pacific Region; and Magda Lovi, manager for policy operations of the sustainable development department of the East Asia and Pacific Region.
The memorandum spells out a number of specific areas of collaboration for the World Bank and USC, including climate change, renewable energy, infrastructure, urban development, rural development and education. But representatives of both institutions stressed that words on paper are only the first step toward a mutually beneficial and productive relationship.
“The real challenge is to make sure that we use this relationship on the knowledge side to strengthen both the bank’s interaction with a particular university but more broadly to work together to strengthen our relationships with the region. We bring relationships with government entities, but the university can ensure we reach out more broadly to the university community within these countries that we work with,” Adams said.
Powell said the World Bank and USC are different but complementary institutions that share a “commitment to the creation and application of knowledge” for the benefit of society.
“We hope that one plus one equals three,” Powell said, adding that the collaboration will allow the World Bank and USC to “move forward in a way that neither partner could do alone.”
Knott said the memorandum of understanding provides “a framework for much more activity to come.” Among the possible areas of cooperation, he said, are joint seminars and workshops, efforts to link scholarly research and expertise to the World Bank’s actual field programs in the area, executive education and capacity building in areas such as climate change, infrastructure and urban and financial planning, and creation of a “global knowledge network” with universities in the Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Roome said the challenges facing countries in the East Asia region have become even more difficult to address because the global financial crisis is restricting access to the capital markets. Bringing knowledge, advice and strategy into program development is critical because the World Bank’s clients “want to see hard data” on what works and what doesn’t and “want to know how to do it,” he said.
Roome said the conference on megacities, defined as those with greater than 10 million, was precisely the sort of collaboration that is needed to address the short-term and long-term challenges facing the region, including natural disasters, climate change, energy, infrastructure and the role, design and management of cities and urban areas.
Those areas, along with the growing issues of slums and poverty, took center stage at the day-long conference.
Among those making presentations was John-Pierre Bardet, professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, who noted that by 2015, two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities, with only one-third in rural areas, a complete reverse of the population in 1950. By 2015, he said, 50 cities will have populations greater than 10 million.
Keshav Varma, sector director of the World Bank’s East Asia Urban Development Unit, noted that more than one in every seven people in the world now live in urban slums, and as the population and urban areas grow, slums and poverty will increase.
Other USC faculty members taking part in the megacity conference included Genevieve Giuliano, Richard Little, Adam Rose and Mark Pisano of the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; and Mark Bernstein and Jeffrey Sellers of USC College.
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