By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) is coming to Sri Lanka, six years after its inauguration in Colombo.
The summit was launched here in 2008 and this year it will be hosted by economic policy think tank, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), under the theme ‘Towards a Stronger, Dynamic and inclusive South Asia’.
Other partners involved in the SAES process include the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Bangladesh, South Asia Watch on Trade, Environment and Economics (SAWTEE) Nepal, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Pakistan and Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries (RIS) India.
Held annually since 2008, SAES is the premier regional event that debates socioeconomic concerns faced by the South Asia region. The summit will bring together leading experts from governments, academia, civil society organisations and the private sector.
SAES is expected to host 120 foreign delegates from South Asia and beyond and will feature several events, including televised sessions of regional economic integration.
The three-day deliberation, which is scheduled to take place from 2 to 4 September 2013 at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, will tackle many critical issues experienced by the economies and the people of South Asia. It will consider necessary measures required for closer regional cooperation as well.
Similar to the World Economic Forum, an annual event held in Davos, Switzerland, SAES will also take into account emerging growth opportunities and challenges faced in the context of changing global economic dynamics.
In addition to this, it will discuss actions the South Asian states will have to take up in order to strengthen their economic growth prospects, risk management systems and challenges, while building a stronger region as a whole.
IPS shared at a recent press conference that the key issues will highlighted at the SAES under four broad themes: harnessing human capital, tackling environmental challenges and climate change, managing intra-country growth disparities and supporting the competitiveness of private sector enterprises.
While the diplomatic discussions among South Asian countries will continue at SAARC level, IPS Executive Director Dr. Saman Kelegama opined that the SAES has become an important Track ll process, which feeds in vital analysis and policy insights into the formal regional integration agenda.
“The recommendations emerging from this summit aim to inform and influence the direction of official SAARC processes, as well as those of individual governments in the region,” he said.