Fast For­ward to Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment

Southasia - - COMMENT - Syed Jawaid Iqbal

The South Asia Eco­nomic Sum­mit (SAES) is be­ing held in Colombo from Septem­ber 2 to 4 this year. It will be hosted by Sri Lanka’s lead­ing eco­nomic pol­icy think tank, the In­sti­tute of Pol­icy Stud­ies of Sri Lanka (IPS). The event was in­sti­tuted in 2008 and is held in a dif­fer­ent South Asian coun­try each time. The Sum­mit has be­come the pre­mier re­gional event that de­bates so­cio-eco­nomic is­sues fac­ing South Asia and brings to­gether lead­ing ex­perts from academia, govern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and the pri­vate sec­tor in this re­gion. The agenda for this year’s SAES con­cerns the var­i­ous crit­i­cal is­sues that face the economies and peo­ple of South Asia, in­clud­ing the im­per­a­tives for closer re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. The Sum­mit is ex­pected to host around 150 for­eign del­e­gates from South Asia and be­yond, and will fea­ture sev­eral spe­cial events in­clud­ing a tele­vised de­bate on re­gional eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion.

It is heart­en­ing to note that in this en­deav­our, which has been ini­ti­ated from within the re­gion, speak­ers will con­sider the var­i­ous growth op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that South Asia has on of­fer in the con­text of chang­ing global eco­nomic dy­nam­ics. This makes the Sum­mit com­pa­ra­ble to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum which is held ev­ery year in Davos, Switzer­land. The SAES Sum­mit theme this year is ‘To­wards a Stronger, Dy­namic, and Inclusive South Asia’ and it is ex­pected over the three days of de­lib­er­a­tions, that var­i­ous as­pects of the theme will be dis­cussed within the re­gional con­text.

Along with the Sum­mit’s pro­ceed­ings, the United Na­tions Eco­nomic and So­cial Com­mis­sion for Asia and the Pa­cific (ESCAP) will con­duct a Pol­icy Dia­logue on ‘Build­ing Re­silience to Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ters and Ma­jor Eco­nomic Crises‘. South Asia has been bat­tered in re­cent years by a re­lent­less se­ries of shocks linked to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and eco­nomic crises. The re­gion is par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to dis­as­ters caused by nat­u­ral haz­ards, with re­cur­ring floods, drought, earth­quakes and land­slides caus­ing loss of life and wide­spread dam­age. For ex­am­ple, in Pak­istan the es­ti­mated dam­age re­sult­ing from the 2010 floods was close to $10 bil­lion. The re­gion has also been hard hit by eco­nomic shocks, such as the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis and con­vul­sions in global mar­kets that led to rock­et­ing food and en­ergy prices. The tra­di­tional ap­proach has been to con­sider such events in­di­vid­u­ally but this is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly un­re­al­is­tic. To­day, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and eco­nomic crises are in­ter­linked by and large, giv­ing rise to com­plex com­bi­na­tions of risk. Gov­ern­ments across South Asia of­ten find them­selves deal­ing with over­lap­ping shocks that de­mand a more com­pre­hen­sive and sys­temic ap­proach to build­ing re­silience. This means that the ca­pac­ity of coun­tries to with­stand, adapt to, and re­cover from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and ma­jor eco­nomic crises, will be dis­cussed thread­bare so that their peo­ple can con­tinue to lead the kind of life they value.

The broad themes of the Sum­mit - har­ness­ing hu­man cap­i­tal; tack­ling en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges and cli­mate change; man­ag­ing in­tra-coun­try growth dis­par­i­ties; and sup­port­ing the com­pet­i­tive­ness of pri­vate-sec­tor en­ter­prises – are ex­pected to bring into fo­cus some ba­sic is­sues that the re­gion needs to con­tend with in or­der to carve a pos­i­tive fu­ture course. Since 2008, the Sum­mit has be­come the pre­mier re­gional event that de­bates so­cio-eco­nomic is­sues fac­ing South Asia. A lack of en­gage­ment in eco­nomic pol­icy-mak­ing pro­cesses has been a lim­it­ing fac­tor to growth and re­gional in­te­gra­tion in th­ese coun­tries. It is en­vi­sioned that the pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions which emerge from the Sum­mit would pos­i­tively in­flu­ence the di­rec­tion of of­fi­cial pro­cesses in the var­i­ous coun­tries and those of in­di­vid­ual gov­ern­ments in the re­gion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.