Policy Dialogue - Unlocking the Potential of Regional Cooperation in South Asia for achieving Sustainable Development Goals: The Way Forward
Accounting for more than 30 per cent of the world’s poor, the South Asia subregion today faces many economic and environmental vulnerabilities. While the subregional countries share a host of common and mounting development challenges, economic cooperation and integration amongst them remain less than adequate. Trade between South Asian countries currently stands at less than one third of its full potential. Trade barriers, poor connectivity, inadequate infrastructure and a lack of political commitment to free trade is costing South Asia over US $54 billion per year in lost export opportunities, hurting the subregion’s trade led growth prospects. However. South Asian countries have an opportunity to tackle many of their development challenges, and accelerate their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, through enhanced regional cooperation for increasing market integration, improving connectivity, promoting investment in infrastructure and tackling shared vulnerabilities and risks.
The Policy Dialogue will examine the state of regional cooperation in South Asia and discuss potential areas for further strengthening subregional linkages. Various dedicated sessions will explore policy options to promote regional cooperation in areas such as trade, connectivity and food security. The discussions will focus on how enhanced trade and improved connectivity can be channeled into inclusive growth and sustainable development outcomes, with due attention given to specific constrains and requirements of the Landlocked Least Developed Countries (LLDCs) of the subregion. The Policy Dialogue will also deliberate on the potentials of a subregional network of think-tanks in bridging knowledge gaps through collaborative research and outreach. Policy makers, leading developmental think-tanks, media and other key stakeholders from various South Asian countries will participate in the Policy Dialogue.