Annual Meeting of The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
President Lemierre Honourable Ministers Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen I am pleased to have the opportunity to join the participants in the Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Tashkent this year. I would like to thank President Karimov for his gracious welcome. It is with pleasure that I am visiting Uzbekistan again It is a particular honour to have been invited to deliver the Jacques de Laroisiere Lecture to such a distinguished gathering. It is, I must admit, an honour that I accepted with considerable trepidation. My first reaction was to question whether I would have anything to say that would be of interest to this audience. Unlike those who have presented the Larosiere Lecture in previous years, I am neither an economist, a banker, nor a specialist in national or international finance. But I have been involved in the field of development for nearly four decades. This engagement has been grounded in my responsibilities as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Community, and Islam's message of the fundamental unity of "din and dunia", of spirit and of life. Throughout its long history, the Ismaili Imamat has emphasised the importance of activities that reflect the social conscience of Islam, that contribute to the well being of Allah's greatest creation - mankind, and the responsibility which Islam places on the fortunate and the strong to assist those less fortunate. When I became Imam in 1957, I was faced with developing a system to meet my responsibilities in an organised and sustainable manner that was suited to the circumstances, demands and opportunities of the second half of the twentieth century. In a period of decolonisation in Asia and Africa, the Cold War and its disastrous impact on developing countries, and the painful progress towards a global movement for international development, it became essential that the Imamat's economic and social development efforts be broadened beyond the Ismaili community, to the societies in which they lived. Presently, the Ismaili community of approximately 15 million resides in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America. This led me to establish what is now the Aga Khan Development Network (the AKDN), a group of eight agencies with individual mandates, to engage in critical dimensions of development from distinct yet complementary perspectives and the competencies they require. The Network is active in the fields of health, education, civil society enhancement, culture, and economic and rural development, and now has more than three decades of experience working in South Asia and Eastern and Western Africa, and since 1993, has been active in Central Asia. This work started in Tajikistan with humanitarian assistance and then post conflict reconstruction and redevelopment, and has expanded to other countries including Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan more recently. The Network's newest engagement is a major commitment to reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Time and experience have taught us a number of lessons, which you may already know, but which explain why our development agencies are structured in number and purpose as they are. Development is a multifaceted process that:
- must be approached from multiple perspectives, and competencies;
- necessitates the mobilisation and development of the capacity of local communities or beneficiaries to take responsibility for activities designed to produce sustained results, and;
- requires long-term engagement with programmes developing into institutions to become permanent and localised.