The South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) Initiative
A lack of civil society engagement in economic policy-making processes has been a limiting factor to growth and regional integration in South Asia. The South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) was launched in 2008 as an attempt to remedy this state of affairs. SAES was initiated by a regionally-based group of five civil society think-tanks, namely, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Sri Lanka, the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in India, the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) in Nepal, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh, and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Pakistan.
SAES aims to provide a colloquium for regional stakeholders including academics, policymakers and private-sector representatives, at which issues concerning key growth opportunities and challenges experienced by the economies of South Asia constitute the central focus. In this sense, it follows the example of the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, albeit it at a regional rather than a global level. SAES provides an opportunity to discuss cooperative solutions to issues of regional scope, as well as to share ideas for policy-making in a manner that draws usefully on the past experience of individual states.
It is envisioned that the policy recommendations which emerge from each Summit would inform the direction of official SAARC processes, as well as those of individual governments in the region. A wide dissemination of these outcomes among regional stakeholders is also one of the aims of this forum.
The topics discussed at the SAES are many and varied, although certain key issues recur. These include trade facilitation, food security, investment, transportation, energy and water management, and climate change. Importantly, past Summits have laid particular emphasis on the role of regional cooperation and integration in addressing these challenges. The major themes of previous Summits are as follows:
- 3rd SAES, Kathmandu – Regional Economic Integration, Climate Change and Food Security: Agenda for the Decade 2011-2020