The Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future hosted a high-level experts panel on ‘South Asia 2060’ bringing leading experts from across South Asia: including from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The panel was sponsored and hosted by the BU Pardee Center as part of the 12th Annual Sustainable Development Conference of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), in Islamabad, Pakistan. Holding the panel on South Asia’s future in South Asia itself allowed the Pardee Center access to leading South Asian experts as well as a large South Asian audience (nearly 200 people attended).
The panel was part of a larger Pardee Center research project by the same name – South Asia 2060 – which invites leading thought leaders from South Asia to think ahead to 2060 and what the future of the region, as a region, might look like. Commentary essays from these thought leaders would then be compiled in a Pardee Center publication. This, the first panel convened as part of this project, was moderated by Pardee Center Director Prof. Adil Najam and included Amb. Nihal Rodrigo, former Sri Lankan Ambassador and former Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Dipak Gyawali, Pragya of the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Prof. A.K. Enamul Haque of the United International University in Bangladesh, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and Director of the Institute of Business Administration, and Prof. Amitabh Mattoo of the Jawaharlal Nehru Univeristy, New Delhi, India.
The far-reaching discussion in the panel focussed on scenarios and trends for the region as a whole over the next five decades, but rooted in the steps that could be taken now to move towards a more positive future for the region. Amb. Rodrigo looked at the SAARC and highlighted the positive trends of regional cooperation through SAARC. Dipak Gyawali looked at the issue of water and defined it as a key indicator of whatever will become of the region. He argued that the greatest hope lies in ‘Track Zero’ efforts that are people to people rather than in state to state solutions. Dr. Enamul Haque and Dr. Ishrat Hussain both highlighted key regional trends, including those of demography, security, knowledge and poverty as the key elements which will impact the region’s future. Prof. Mattoo presented three scenarios, as had Dr. Ishrat Hussain, for the region’s future and pointed out that the region lies at a tipping point and the decisions taken in the region over the next five years will determine the direction that the region will take over the next 50 years.
The presentations from the panel were followed by a lively question and answer session.
A video of the panel will soon be added to the Pardee Center website’s multimedia page.