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The South Asian Consultation on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held on the 6th and 7th of November, was hosted by CEPA in an effort to bring together regional development practitioners and thinkers together, to discuss what South Asia's primary concerns and focus should be.
As the expiry date of the MDGs is drawing nearer, different quarters are discussing the post 2015 development agenda and framework. Accounts of these discussions project a considerable degree of skepticism about the extent to which the current economic growth centered development models address the alleviation of extreme poverty. In this sense, South Asia presents a depressing paradox. It is among the fastest growing regions in the world, but it is also home to the largest concentration of people living in debilitating poverty, conflict and human misery. While South Asia is far more developed than Sub-Saharan Africa, and India (the largest country in the region) and Sri Lanka have achieved lower middle-income status, South Asia has many more poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally Climate scientists predict that South Asia will be one of the worst affected regions with more extreme heat, floods, droughts and rising sea levels threatening coastal and urban populations, food production and trapping people in poverty. This raises the crucial question of whether the best escape from poverty comes from general economic growth.
There is a growing lobby for a new set of development goals – that go beyond the economic and look to integrate social and environmental needs. This has become the crux of the debate gathering momentum since the Rio+20 summit's declaration of the need for sustainable development goals (SDG), and the post 2015 discussion on the next round of millennium development goals (MDGs). So far, the input to the on-going discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have been provided mainly by the "Northern" institutions, carving out a need for more voices from the global South to infuse evidence-based policy perspectives in the ongoing discourse.
To this end, the Centre for Poverty Analysis, in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Dialogue (Bangladesh) and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (Pakistan), and Practical Action (Sri Lanka) aimed to advance and compliment the Southern Voice Initiative (Centre for Policy Dialogue) that has spearheaded the effort to increase southern think tank perspectives and ideas with a strong potential to influence the high-level discussions on the post-2015 development framework. The Southern Voice Initiative is already engaging with many international fora, communicating concerns of the 'global South' related to the post-2015 development framework, and CEPA's symposium will add to the knowledge hub that is driving the ongoing international conversations on post-2015 goals.
The concept for this initiative came from a sense that key global environmental indicators are now deteriorating with frightening rapidity and if the post-2015 agenda does not focus on the need for growth and development to take place in a fundamentally different way, then it will only perpetuate the existing problems and will also not meet some of the key goals of poverty reduction. In this sense, the symposium activities were aimed at creating opportunities to bring to the fore the issues of sustainable growth within resource limits that will directly affect poverty reduction and development in South Asia. Second, the symposium served as a forum to relay post-2015 discourse stemming from various international fora; to gain a deeper understanding of issues that are being highlighted at the global level. Thirdly, the event formulated informed proposals addressing Southern concerns and interests in relation to development.
The themes of this symposium were driven by the current debate and issues seen as important to South Asia. The two themes guiding the content of this symposium were 1) the nature of development goals that address issues that are crucial to the South Asia region and 2) the process of incorporating these goals into the post-2015 development framework.
The agenda of the event and the papers presented can be found here. All the sessions from the symposium can be viewed here. The Outcome Document of the South Asian Consultation on the Post-2015 Development Agenda can be found here.
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