He was addressing the opening session of the three-day conference on “Pathways to Sustainable Development,” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
“South Asia has achieved impressive macro-economic growth but at the same time income inequality has also risen,” the president remarked.
“We need regional response mechanisms to deal with the climate change issue that is becoming a major threat to economies and societies as is evident from the recent floods,” said the president.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said South Asia is home to the most poor and malnourished children in the world. “In fact we have the most ‘uns’ in every field. We know the answers to these problems but cannot translate them into practice,” he said, calling for a K2D approach (from knowing to doing).
“With unprecedented challenges, we need unprecedented collaboration on the issues confronting the region. We believe that Pakistan needs out-of-box solutions to kickstart sustainable development process.”
Iqbal said the old model of democracy was no longer applicable to new aspirations and pointed out to decreasing voter turnout in some developed societies due to voter disillusionment.
The minister called for a collective South Asia Vision 2025. “Instead of throwing mortars on one another, let’s throw mortars on illiteracy, poverty, and hunger in the region.”
United Nations Under Secretary-General and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UN-ESCAP) Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar said South Asia had grown below its potential.
“With 40 per cent population below the poverty line, South Asia has the highest concentration of poor people in the world. It also accounts for half of the world’s fatalities due to natural disasters,” said Akhtar, who is also the former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.
She said South Asia has the potential to bridge the skilled workforce gap in the world but that depends on effective skill development programmes. Akhtar said Pakistan could learn from India’s skill development programme.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri earlier noted that the South Asian countries have changed over the last few years with democratic transitions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. “Things have changed in less than a decade for the good. Conflicts within and without have eroded the capacity of every South Asian country. We can work in isolation and fail in isolation or we can work collectively and ensure a better future for our people.”
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>