Paradigms of Sustainable Development in South Asia
Jointly published by SDPI and Sang-e-Meel
Over the last five to six years, there has been much debate, discussion and argument about the multiple crises the world has been grappling with, forcing governments and other institutions alike to critically evaluate systemic concerns linked to local, national and global institutions and structures. This book showcases research conducted by academics and to providing unique and fresh perspectives about how some of the challenges South Asia faces can be tackled, using innovative, local and ‘redefined’ initiatives and ideas.The purpose of the book is to share the lessons learned and to focus on advice and recommendations from advocates in the field of economics, environment, public policy, social sciences and beyond.
Section one of the book dwells on New directions in energy sustainability and climate change. It explores transformative advances in energy sciences, given the complex challenges posed by climate change to modern technology, requiring researchers to delve into unfamiliar territory such as hydrogen energy, especially in a country like Pakistan. While fuel cells and a hydrogen infrastructure can together pave a sustainable energy future for the country, the state has to play a critical role in encouraging and funding Research and Development (R&D) in alternative energy. The feasibility of bringing state forests under a community-based, participatory institutional framework for effective management of forest resources for Uttarkhand State in Himalaya, India, is discussed at length in chapter two. The third chapter draws linkages between climate change and food security from the perspective of farmers in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, and recommends establishment of a food bank, knowledge sharing and investing in climate resilient agriculture.
Section two concerns sustainable livelihood options and local communities. It discusses the case of the Sri Lankan fishermen’s community and provides indicative insights into the tensions between local and migratory fishermen based on perceptions of inequality and identity, manifesting themselves in competition for a rapidly declining resource. The case identifies several creative and alternative practices for peaceful co-existence. The next two chapters on Nepal look at the political economy of existing land distribution in the country that has caused social exclusion, injustice, inequity and disparity, leading to skewed power relations. Then there is the inspiring story of remote Nangi village where installation of a wireless fibre (wi-fi) project has left a remarkable impact on the lives of the local populace from online selling and buying portals to virtual educational classes and an operational tele-medicine clinic supplementing the lack of medical facilities in the village.
Section three is on readapting forest management deals with the historical and legal nuances of forest ownership in Swat district of Pakistan, contested by both the state and the people. Based on archival record and statutory and oral sources, the paper calls for immediate and urgent action to resolve the crisis of ownership before it escalates into potential conflict. Highlighting Nepal’s community forestry model, the second paper in this section discusses five innovative interventions for implementing REDD+ including community-based monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV); creating forest carbon additionality and permanence; establishment of a Forest Carbon Trust Fund; formalised distribution of REDD+ payments to local communities and initiation of institutional and biophysical bundling.
Section four is based on interrogating religious and gender identities. It first traces the historical trajectory of the religiously and legally defined citizenry in Pakistan. It argues that Pakistan’s political elite instrumentalised Islam as a means of forging an all-inclusive national identity in a state marked with religious plurality and ethnic diversity, by creating distinctions between Muslim and non-Muslim citizens of the country. The chapter on Palestinian women’s movement recommends that it needs to find strategies that maintain the connection between achieving Palestinian national rights and women’s rights, with the potential to create conditions conducive to reaching women in all sectors of Palestinian society, not just the elite and educated. For women to benefit from both collective and individual rights, stable democracy and economy as well as a robust civil society is crucial.
Section five features integrating policy processes with trade and development. It explores an empirical study of the consumer welfare impact of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) on Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It highlights the need for trade policy reforms at the regional level in South Asia in order to fuel growth of trade relationships, resulting in better trade facilitation measures, procedural ease and economies of scale in the transport sector. The next chapter in this section shares the finding of a policy community survey that points out that while policy makers in South Asia have a positive view of the quality of policymaking processes, research-based evidence is often hard to get and its usefulness and quality is questionable. The study suggests that think tanks should work to build more trust with policy actors in government and ensure that their findings are easily accessible, relevant and of high quality over time, in a region where post-MDG development agendas continue to unfold in highly dynamic political, economic and social contexts.
Through the lens of reflexive governance, the final chapter of the book focuses on the emergence of new kinds of institutions, strategies, processes and interactions in the local governance system in post-conflict rural Nepal. It shows how differently positioned people enact, subvert and resist local governance and development projects; and how local governance transpires through ordinary peoples’ participation, networked arrangements, and articulation of local state authority and civil society.